Biomedical Engineering Education

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typical biomedical engineering research and development project. It has the following phases: - Project starts with the idea. - It is based to existing theory or new ...

Biomedical Engineering Education Jaakko Malmivuo Ragnar Granit Institute, Tampere University of Technology P.O. Box 692. FIN-33101 Tampere, Finland \\ \\ \\'.cc.tut. l r/--rnlrl

Abstract: The interdisciplinary nature of Biomedical Engineering brings special demands for its education. In this paper it is described the target, philosophy and contents of biomedical engineering studies in general and especially at the Ragnar Granit Institute.

DICIPLINE The interdisciplinary nature of biomedical engineering raises special demands in its education.

Characteristic to engineering sciences is that they are based on synthesis. There does not exist any such device or computer program whose construction and operation would not be understood by an engineer or group of them because the device is designed and constructed by engineers. Characteristic to biomedical sciences is that they are based on analysis. The nature is extremely complicated

and we never can understand

all its details.


r rro


Biomedical Engineering may discuss any different subfields of engineering and medicine. At the Ragnar Granit Institute we concentrate on applying the electrical engineering and computer science to cardiology, neurology and medical imaging. In biomedical engineering studies the students may specialize to medical electronics, medical physics and medical informatics. The main emphasis in the education is in Bioelectromagnetism. In addition to biomedical engineering we also give education in medical physics.

The biomedical engineering courses are given on the third and fourth year. To ensure that the students obtain full competence in electronics and/or computer science, it is recommended.

that the main studies in


engineering do not exceed 30 study weeks.


biomedical methods and statistical analysis we will understand it more and more. Characteristic to biomedical engineering is that it is a combination of these two approaches. This is best seen in a typical biomedical engineering research and development

INTERCHANGE BETWEEN DICIPLINES For the biomedical engineers it is important to have the opportunity to select their job freely within different disciplines. Therefore at the Ragnar Granit Institute we

project. It has the following phases: - Project starts with the idea. - It is based to existing theory or new theory will be developed on the basis of the idea. - To fill the requirements of a) measurement or b) therapeutical or stimulating energy application and c) signal processing, instrument and programming development has

have been very conservative in the sense of establishing a department of biomedical engineering and giving a degree

to be made.

At the RGI we consider that it is valuable for the biomedical engineers that they have a degree either in electrical engineering or in the computer science rather than specifically in biomedical engineering. This gives for them much better freedom to direct their activities widely also in the fields of electronics or computer science, as they have

- An essential phase of the project is clinical testing of the instrument and the method. In its initial phase the clinical testing may include a few patients. This gives preliminary information on the applicability of the theory and the method. This phase gives important feedback information on further development of the theory and the instrumentation. But what is of paramount importance is, that before the project is finished, large clinical research has to be made. That includes statistical analysis of the performance of the instrument and the methods with hundreds of patients with different disease categories as well as hundreds of normal subjects.

- Not before the clinical research is successfullv completed the project is in successful completion. To

understand this whole chain of a biomedical engineering project and the competence to successfully

perform such

is the is

engineering education.


ultimate goal



in this discipline. We are aware that for in the USA there exist several departments of biomedical engineering. But, on the other hand, this industry has in the USA much wider base than in the specifically


Nordic Countries.


DOCTORAL EDUCATION As an interdisciplinary science, biomedical engineering

on two disciplines. For this reason and is very research oriented, we strongly recommended for the biomedical engineers that hey continue their studies to the doctoral needs studies

because biomedical engineering industry


We recommended that the doctoral students choose for their minor subject, including 15 study weeks, studies in the medical faculty. This is usually a course in anatomy and

physiology. For their major subject, including 30 study weeks, we recommended the doctoral seminars in biomedical engineering. These seminars include selected

Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing

Vol. 37, Supplement 1, 1999

books in biomedical engineering and bioelectromagnetism.

A list of www.

c c. t

these books may be found malmiv uo/ g raduat e/ s e mina

in the Web


rs. htm.

The main part of the doctoral studies includes, of course, preparing the Doctoral Thesis. It is either a monograph or composed from a set of scientific publications in international scientific journals in biomedical engineering or medicine. Part of the doctoral theses in biomedical engineering are


theoretical bioelectromagnetism, part


them are


close to biomedical sciences that they could be defended in the medical faculty. Altogether 12 PhD (Eng.) degrees have now been given by the RGI. In addition to that, two MD degrees to the Faculty of Medicine of University of Tampere have also been prepared it the research projects of the RGI.


In Finland it is a target the doctoral students complete their degree before the age of 30. To speed up the studies we have started a program of research students. It means that the students of engineering or medicine may already

during their Master of Science studies participate in preliminary doctoral education. Some selected students of their third or fourth university year are recruited for one year to the research projects of the RGI. They serve as research assistants and it is the purpose that they can participate the research on such activity that they will have

We solved this problem in the following way. Ragnar Granit Institute made an initiative for the construction of a building in the immediate vicinity of the hospital which is dedicated for research and new innovative companies in the field of biomedical engineering and medicine. This

building also includes the cardiological and

neurophysiological laboratories of the hospital. In this building there exists some 1000 m' space witch is dedicated for biomedical engineering research. It is


by scientists from the RGI and the Tampere

University Hospital. On the other hand, we consider that we also must have


at the Tampere University of


Otherwise we loose our contacts to our students and colleagues. This means that the Ragnar Granit Institute is located in two places, in the research building at the hospital and at the University of Technology. In both places we have some 500 m' of space. The distance between Tampere University of Technology and Tampere University Hospital is about 7 km.


Biomedical engineering




characteri stic features.

Typically, the biomedical engineering instruments are highly specialized and needed only in specific applications. Therefore the domestic markets are usually very limited. But because the needs for such instruments are similar all around the world, the total markets are global. Therefore, typically, over 90Vo of the production of biomedical

their name in one publication. Starting the career as scientist in so early stage of the studies will help these students to associate to the scientific community and this facilitates their doctoral studies.

engineering instruments are exported globally. Therefore, biomedical engineering industry is very international.



University of Technology cannot have successful in biomedical engineering without close cooperation with the medical faculty. The RGI co-operates with the Medical Faculty of Tampere University on several

To ensure the international attitude of the biomedical engineers, it is important to have an international education program in this field. That, on the other hand, ensures that the biomedical engineers learn fluent foreign language, usually English, and on the other hand, ensures that the engineers have international attitude and learn to communicate with people from foreign countries. We offer all our biomedical education in English. The



In education the members of the medical faculty carry of teaching the basic anatomy and physiology course for the engineering students. The engineering students may also participate the courses offered by the medical faculty. Usually they participate the anatomy course and have it as their minor subject for the

the responsibility

doctoral studies in engineering.



basic courses are also given in Finnish. This gives the possibility for students from foreign countries to participate our education. We have had international students from all parts of the world. Because the main duty of our university is to educate Finnish students we limit the number of foreign students accepted to the program.

ENGINEERING RESEARCH CENTER, BERC ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Co-operation with the industry is an essential activity for all fields of engineering sciences including biomedical engineering. But biomedical engineering has, in addition, the hospital as an important co-operating partner. Our experience has shown that this co-operation cannot be



J. Viik and J. Malmivuo: Biomedical Engineering as a Career Resource. Ragnar Granit Institute, Report No.

active and fruitful unless the institute of biomedical engineering is located in the immediate vicinity of the

This work has been financially supported by the Ragnar Granit Foundation.


Medical & Biological Engineering &


1998. www. i/B M E- S U RV EY


Vol. 37, Supplement

l, 1999