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Bioeng vs. MechE for Bioeng jobs


AllThatJazz
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I know Bioengineering is a fairly recent subcatergory of engineering but is it considered a "real" engineering field? Would I be better off going into MechE and then getting a Bioengineering job? It seems like most medical company would rather hire MechE.

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I faced a similar dilemma about what PhD program to go into. I have a background in physics/MechE and was thinking of switching to a biomedical engineering program. After talking to multiple professors about it, they suggested to just stick with MechE but change my focus to more bioengineering related problems. Indeed medical companies, especially medical device companies, prefer engineers from more traditional fields like MechE and EE, as they realize these types of students have stronger math/engineering skills than do those that just majored in biomedical engineering. Biology is arguably easier to pick up than engineering, so I wouldn't waste time with taking bio/biomedical classes and focus more on the engineering. Also, studying MechE, EE, etc. gives you a broader range of career choices afterwards whereas if you don't land in a medical type job with a biomedical engineering degree you're pretty limited for other jobs. Just my two cents.

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Thank you for your respond! I want to go into Bioengineering so I figured majoring in Bioengineering would be apporiate but I guess employers would rather have MechE or EE to fill bioeng. jobs.

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I've worked in the medical device industry - it really depends on the job description.  If the job heavily involves SolidWorks, using Machine Shop (i.e. to physically prototype the devices), or building circuits, then they would probably prefer a MechE/EE.  If the job is more bench lab work to test the device, or working on device biocompatibility, then I imagine BioE is fine for that.  ChemE would probably do too.  At the end of the day, it's the skills you have that matter, not really the degree you have.  Plus, most BioE programs make you concentrate in a particular area, so you could be BioE and take all the MechE design classes.  If you did this, your biomedical expertise might even put you ahead of all the MechEs.

 

So in summary, it's more about the skills you have than the degree.  From my time in industry, I can say that SolidWorks is a HUGELY needed skill.  Learning Solidworks is generally not a part of most BioE programs, but that doesn't mean you can't take it as an elective.  The medical device industry is extremely diverse - I suggest you think about what TYPE of work you'd like to do within it, and get the degree appropriate for that.  

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Thanks free_radical, that was very insightful and helpful. I was looking towards more design and bench lab type of work. In the end I guess it won't really matter compared to what my skills are.

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No problem - Here's something else you might try: Browse a few major medical device company's career pages, to see where the demand for skills is.  That way, you'll know what areas are hot and where you're likely to land a job.  Granted, the industry is fickle and you never know how it's going to be when you graduate, but it's good to keep an eye on trends.  One example, from Medtronic, is below:

 

http://www.medtronic.com/careers/index.htm

 

Other companies you might look at include Boston Scientific, Stryker, St. Jude...etc.  

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