Chi-An Emhoff

Chi-An W. Emhoff

Location
Berkeley, CA, United States
Chi-An Emhoff
Ask a Question:
Required field
Please note
Due to the unexpectedly large volume of questions being submitted to the Ask an Engineer program, it may take as many as 3 months or more for a response to your question to be posted. Please review previous questions and answers to see if your question may have already been addressed.
Enter the code shown: (only upper case)

Biography

I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, and I have since pursued a PhD in Human Physiology. I enjoy working as both a scientist and an engineer, and I believe acquiring interdisciplinary skills can open up tremendous opportunities. Most people have interests in multiple different areas, so I say, "Go for it!"

Answers by Chi-An W. Emhoff

Hello Cathia, 

Absolutely!  A mechanical-biomedical engineering education will position you for many career opportunities within the medical field.  I myself completed a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering, then pursued graduate school in the Biological Sciences.  I attribute a lot of my current employment opportunities to the engineering training that I received as an undergraduate.  Mechanical engineering is especially relevant, as the medical industry is always looking for individuals with a broad understanding of biomechanics and/or medical devices.  It might be a good idea to explore in what aspects of the medical field you hope to contribute.  If you enjoy the clinical side (directly working with patients), then perhaps consider supplementing your engineering education with some human biology coursework and hands-on experience (internships or volunteering).  If you enjoy the technology side (designing and building), then definitely pursue some internship experience at medical device companies.  As for your current switch from chemical to mechanical engineering, not to worry, you'll be just as successful.  Good luck!!

Chi-An

Hello Alison, 

This is a great question that can be answered 2 different ways. My first answer is that biomedical engineering is a sub-discipline of engineering; therefore, you would be better prepared for your master's program with a bachelor's degree in engineering (and biology minor). My second answer is that biology and engineering are inherently two vastly different fields; so which one is more interesting to you? If possible, an internship in both fields would give you some firsthand experience so that you might discover your interests and strengths fit one area over the other. Also, biomedical disciplines are primarily human-related, whereas biology pertains to all living things (including plants and non-human animals). This means that if you decide to pursue an engineering major and biology minor, make sure there are electives within biology that fit your biomedical interests. Best of luck, and enjoy your journey, as biomedical engineering is an incredibly exciting field!

Chi-An

Hi Joslynn, 

Congrats on setting yourself up for a career with lots of opportunities!  Honestly, I think the general track will provide you all the prerequisite courses you'd need for a master's in Biomedical Engineering, and as you said, most graduate school programs will specify which life science courses you need.  However, I would just look up a few Biomed. Eng. masters programs and see whether they require the GRE-Biology subject test.  If they do, then taking the organic chem, biology, and chemistry courses will be helpful for that test.  If they don't (and they only require the general GRE test), then you should be fine with the general EE track.  My experience has been that "Biomedical Engineering" requires more of a solid engineering education primarily, and biomedical education is secondary.  Best of luck in your endeavors!

Chi-An

Dear Sara,

You have selected an incredibly exciting and growing field, so congratulations! My advice is that since there are very few academic programs that provide combined science & engineering doctoral programs, try to attain some internships in biomedical engineering to get a sense of working in industry. There are some big companies with huge internship programs, such as Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, and there are hundreds of smaller companies (especially in Cambridge, MA) that may have some summer internships here and there. It is important to gain some working experience, because when it comes to engineering, school setting and industry setting can be very different. With a few summers of engineering work experience, you can attend graduate school in cardiovascular physiology and gain the science background. I think combined skills in science & engineering will become more and more valuable as we continue to push biological research and technology. Good luck and please feel free to contact me if you have further questions!

Chi-An Wang