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Biomedical engineering is a highly interdisciplinary profession devoted to solving biological and medical problems for the benefits of mankind through the use of engineering concepts and techniques . The Biomedical Engineering (BME) programme is offered by the Faculty of Engineering via deep collaboration with Faculty of Medicine. Students receive training at the forefront of engineering and medical topics through the programme’s core courses, while they also enjoy the flexibility to choose from a wide variety of electives to focus on areas critical for their chosen careers.

BME is responsible for developing medical engineering technologies such as MRIs, brain-computer interface cardiac pacemakers, orthopedic implants, rehabilitative devices, medical robotics, minimally-invasive endoscopes, etc. Biomedical devices are being designed at the micro- and nano-scales for diagnosis and therapeutics at the molecular and cellular levels. Students can leverage the breadth of cutting-edge biomedical engineering research activities conducted within the University.

Focus areas of the programme are: (1) Medical Instrumentation and Biosensors; (2) Biomedical Imaging, Informatics and Modeling; (3) Molecular, Cell and Tissue Engineering.

BME graduates work in hospitals, universities, government departments, other public organizations as well as industries. The careers available to programme graduates cover the entire value chain of BME, namely research and development, manufacturing, quality assurance, consultancy, distribution and sale, clinical engineering, regulatory affairs and entrepreneurship in technology. Graduates are also well-equipped to pursue advanced study in engineering and biomedical sciences. Some graduates also start their careers in business, law and medicine.

Saving Lives with Engineering

Several years ago, as a curious teenager who didn’t have a very clear vision on what his academic interest was, Leo Lee decided to choose a programme which would familiarize him to several fields at once. The Biomedical Engineering programme (BME) at CUHK became his final choice, a decision he was proud to have made.

Leo pointed out a fallacy commonly held: ‘Many had warned me before my admission to BME, saying that studying various subjects would not lead me to a promising career path since I would not have a cutting edge in any of the fields I studied. After spending four years in the programme, I am glad that I had insisted on my decision – my experience in BME tells a completely different story. Nowadays, medical and healthcare technologies are expanding with the ageing population and the increasing demand for advanced engineering. Talents in Engineering, Science and Medicine are very much sought after in the full range of associated industries, from product development, clinical trial to manufacturing. These professionals are expected to possess cross-disciplinary knowledge and lead teams with diverse backgrounds to generate new ideas and effective solutions. I strongly believe that my expertise will be in great demand.’

He attributed the source of his confidence to the comprehensive and in-depth training offered by the programme. ‘BME was established in 2010. The programme imparts knowledge in Science, Medicine and Engineering. The courses are taught jointly by professors from the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Medicine, making the curriculum very broad and interdisciplinary. Final year projects are also led by these professors with various expertise. The programme is a great platform for students to learn and experience how technology, engineering and innovation can be applied in medicine and the healthcare fields.

‘I had many precious moments in BME. I had chances to take anatomy and physiology courses, which were common courses for students in Biomedical Science or Medicine. I also got hand-on programming experience through building basic medical machines or electronic devices. These lessons were very inspiring as the devices can help patients in various way. For example, I built a machine to collect photoplethysmogram (PPG), essential to the measuring of heart rate. Another device that I created was a sitting pad, which monitored people’s sitting gestures and improved the lives of the disabled. Most importantly, we were taught to monitor and analyze the data from the devices.’

Many prospective students may be scared by how technical and advanced the programme appears to be, but Prof. Raymond Tong, Chairman of the Department of BME, explained that every effort will be made to help the newcomers adapt, ‘We admit students with Sciences backgrounds in secondary education. After completing the foundation courses in engineering and biomedical sciences, they can opt for a track of elective courses and internships to suit their own interests and goals.’

Leo agreed with Professor Tong that he had no difficulty fitting himself in the programme, thanks to the close relationship he had with his classmates, ‘My peers and I support each other in both the academic and non-academic senses. One of my classmate is extremely hard-working and knowledgeable in not only biomedical engineering, but also in other areas such as literature, music, sports, etc. He inspires me and I have learnt a lot from him when we were working on projects together. After school, our classmates would spend our time together on games or sports. We were like siblings to one another.’

Leo mentioned that every Year 1 student will go through a series of practical workshop trainings and clinical rounds in their first summer. For the subsequent summers, students can opt for various internships. Ample opportunities of internships and academic exchanges in Asia, Europe and North America are available to BME students. They can choose to participate in them either for one term or the whole year.

Professor Tong was confident that the BME graduates have been well-trained to serve the community. According to past records, most of the graduates would pursue various BME-related careers upon graduation, such as engineering and product support, marketing and technical sale, laboratory and research, etc. They were hired in private industries including local and international companies, as well as public organizations like hospitals, the Government, and other non-BME-related companies. A relatively large proportion of BME graduates pursue further studies in both local and overseas institutions, some continuing in related areas while others switching to fields like business administration, medicine and law.

If you are a lover of Science who likes to explore and are interested in solving real-life problems in the medical and healthcare industries, you are welcome to join Leo as a member of the BME programme. Professor Tong would like to remind you that scholarships are available via the Department, the Colleges or the University.

Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2018