BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo recently celebrated
the first graduating class from its Department of Biomedical
Engineering, a milestone for the fast-growing program that focuses
on developing medical devices and therapies for diabetes, cancer
and other illnesses.
A handful of the 12 undergraduates are expected to immediately
enter the workforce. But most plan to attend UB's new biomedical
engineering graduate program, said Albert H. Titus, co-chair of the
department. Starting this fall, UB will offer master's of science
and doctor of philosophy degrees in biomedical engineering.
Biomedical engineering is an emerging field of research that
applies engineering principles to medicine. Examples include
everything from the development of the pacemaker and prosthetic
limbs to creating artificial organs and ultrasounds.
The UB department is a collaboration between the School of
Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Medicine and
Biomedical Sciences. Created with the support of the John R. Oishei
Foundation, which provided $3 million toward its establishment, the
department is expected to advance and support the Buffalo Niagara
region's already strong medical device industry by spinning off new
technologies and businesses as well as creating a highly skilled
pool of graduates.
Enrollment has steadily climbed since UB launched the department
two years ago. It had 56 students in 2010. The number rose to 137
the following year and it is expected to reach 195 students this
"The department is growing very rapidly," said Titus, an
associate professor in electrical engineering. "But that's not too
surprising because there's a clear demand in the workplace for
The U.S. Department of Labor projects the need for biomedical
engineers will jump 62 percent through 2020, a rate much higher
than most occupations. Also, the average salary for biomedical
engineers in the United States is $88,360, according to Labor
Department figures issued in May 2011.
Students come from a variety of backgrounds, including
engineering, medicine and pharmacy. Such was the case with North
Tonawanda native Jessica Utzig, who transferred into the department
from School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences two years ago
and graduated last month.
"There are so many avenues to pursue, but I'm really interested
in devices," said Utzig, a summer intern at Greatbatch in Akron who
plans to enter UB's biomedical engineering graduate school later
Anticipating industry's need for more biomedical engineers, UB
will launch the graduate program in August. By offering advanced
degrees, the department will be able to attract and retain better
students, as well as high-caliber faculty members, Titus said.
While researchers and students are based on the university's
North Campus, they will be collaborating with the UB Center for
Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology in the Buffalo
Niagara medical corridor. Additionally, the department is advancing
several of the UB 2020 strategic strengths, including "Health and
Wellness Across the Lifespan," "Molecular Recognition in Biological
Systems and Bioinformatics" and "Integrated Nanostructured