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New undergraduate program created for Biomedical Engineering

By Enobong Ukpong, November 23 2012—

On Oct. 22, the Board of Governors unanimously approved the creation of the sixth department in the Schulich School of Engineering — the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME).

Previously, Biomedical Engineering was only available as a specialization, but it is now available as a full Bachelor of Science degree.

Frank Finley, Board of Governors representative, spoke in favour of this decision. 

“I think this works well with the transdisciplinary model of the university,” said Finley. He noted that in large institutions like the University of Calgary, the transdisciplinary model is often lost due to bureaucratic issues. 

“So I think anything like this, in the accretion of new departments, is actually really positive.”

Finley mentioned that the creation of this department costs nothing at all.

“This is a department that basically pays for itself through some of the grants that already exist in the institution,” said Finley. “And the hope is this will grow over time.”

Dr. Teri Balser, provost and vice-president academic, at the University of Calgary, expressed her excitement over the development of the new Department of Biomedical Engineering, and how she is eager to continue seeing the university grow.

“It’s nice to see new programs coming into effect that are cross disciplinary and moving us further and further in the direction of transdisciplinary as per our framework for growth, and so this is definitely an exciting one,” said Balser.

Dean of the Schulich School of Engineering, Dr. Bill Rosehart, spoke on his enthusiasm regarding the new department, and how taking the time to prepare the proposal for it is now paying off. 

“It’s building upon multiple decades of biomedical engineering research and graduate education and now undergraduate education,” said Rosehart. “It’s something that we took our time and developed the proposal well over a year in terms of consultation to be able to maintain the real transdisciplinary nature of biomedical engineering, while also giving it a disciplinary route to be able to successfully deliver the new engineering undergraduate program in biomedical engineering.”

The biomedical engineering graduate program has been around for 25 years, as discussed by Dr. Michael Kallos, the director of biomedical engineering. A minor in biomedical engineering has also been offered for 18 years at the undergraduate level. Kallos discussed how offering biomedical engineering as a major will open new opportunities for students, and that a demand for such a major is growing by the day.

“This new department will be an anchor of multi-faculty activities,” said Kallos in a statement. “It will bring together undergraduate and graduate programming, as well as research and scholarship opportunities.

“I think we really have an awesome opportunity to build a leading biomedical engineering department with support for both of those elements, BME as a discipline, but also the transdisciplinary research and scholarship.”

Information on the Biomedical Engineering program can be found online on the U of C’s academic calendar.

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