When medicine and engineering are merged in pursuit of innovation, our ability to diagnose and treat patients is transformed.
Interestingly, Vanderbilt had one of the first undergraduate degree programs in biomedical engineering over 50 years ago. Since then, the opportunities for engineering to impact medical applications have grown exponentially and have become almost as diverse as the number of clinical specialties in medicine itself. Engineering for surgery and intervention is just one example and has demonstrated increases in efficiency, reduction of error and improvement in patient outcomes. For example, in 2017, Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands performed an AI-driven microsurgery using a surgical robot.
The surgical robot was able to suture blood vessels between 0.03 and 0.08 millimeters in a patient with lymphedema. The human surgeon manipulated the robot surgeon's “robot hand” movements so they were reduced to smaller and more accurate movements in the patient.
This story illustrates the importance of pursuing engineering solutions to make surgery more effective and efficient than ever. This enables highly-skilled surgeons to perform more complex surgeries while maintaining safety, giving them more time in their already busy schedules.
Here are two areas of the engineering field that are influencing modern medicine, and you can pursue them right here at Vanderbilt University's School of Engineering.
How Does Engineering Impact the Medical Field?
Engineering in medicine has catapulted our abilities to treat patients into levels of sophistication unimaginable to researchers a century ago. More specifically, biomedical engineering and its specialties help bring these visions into reality.
Biomedical engineering is a vast field that combines medicine and engineering to advance therapies and diagnostic abilities. Surgical engineering, often characterized as a subset of biomedical engineering, shares many similarities with biomedical engineering. Engineering for surgical and interventional problems is a specialty that focuses on refining procedural medicine to improve patient outcomes.
Earning a master’s degree at the intersection of engineering and medicine will place you at the forefront of creating revolutionary technologies. Furthermore, given the vastness of the field, it is imperative to pursue an educational path that highlights your unique interests and strengths.
Let’s explore what biomedical engineers and surgery and intervention engineers do, what some roles in the field are, and which degree may be right for you.
What Is Biomedical Engineering?
Biomedical engineering applies the principles of biology and medicine to the discipline of engineering. Biomedical engineers design, develop, and build life-saving equipment, devices, and software for the medical field.
Biomedical engineers ultimately seek to bridge the divide between medicine and engineering, merging the principles of one another to create effective therapeutic and diagnostic tools.
How Do Biomedical Engineers Fit Into the Broader Field of Engineering?
Biomedical engineering is a wide-ranging field with a diversity of career opportunities. These opportunities include research, development of biomaterials, medical device engineering, or medical software development.
Below are a few roles biomedical engineers hold:
- Biomechanical Engineer
- Rehabilitation Engineer
- Medical Equipment/Technology Engineer
- Manufacturing Engineer
- Medical Device Engineer
What Is a Surgical or Interventional Engineer?
Engineering in surgery and intervention (ESI) seeks to transform procedural medicine by employing engineers to translate discoveries in the laboratory into novel technological solutions.
A specialized area of surgical or interventional engineering refers to the combination of an intimate knowledge of human disease and treatment with skilled engineering abilities to create technology that allows efficient and effective procedural treatment for patients.
How Do Surgery and Intervention Engineers Fit Into the Broader Field of Engineering?
Engineers in surgery and intervention are trained to be skilled experts in solving complex medical problems by converting laboratory research into real-life solutions. This highly sought-after and in-demand specialty opens a variety of career opportunities.
Below are a few positions an engineer in surgery and intervention may hold:
- Surgical Engineer
- Interventional Engineering
- Medical Robotic Engineer
- Robotic Engineer
- Image Processing Engineer
The High Demand for Engineers Specializing in Surgery and Intervention
The demand for patient-specific procedural medicine has steadily risen over the past decades. Engineers trained in surgery and intervention are able to customize procedures and treatments based on the specificity of the condition of the patient. This ability revolutionizes treatment and often proves life-saving.
The demand for biomedical engineers is expected to grow 8 percent nationally, and up to 12 percent in the southeast over the next decade, according to Traditional labor market information (LMI). Moreover, there is a particularly high demand for biomedical engineers with expertise in industries related to surgical and interventional technologies.
With the increased demand for professionals, the sophistication of technology and the boundless potential for creating life-saving work, there has never been a more optimal time to earn a master of engineering in surgery and intervention.
Join the generation of new engineers and pursue all the possibilities of engineering in medicine with a master of engineering in surgery and intervention.