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Biomedical Engineering Major Guide for 2016-2017

What is Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineering is the application of engineering principles and methods to the solution of problems in the life sciences. This broad field spans applications at the molecular level (genetic engineering); at the cellular level (e.g., cell and tissue engineering); and in intact organisms, including humans in particular. Mature practice areas include the design of biomedical measurement systems (e.g., intensive care monitoring stations); orthopedic devices (e.g., artificial joints); and artificial organs (e.g., artificial kidneys). Currently, there is much attention being given to computational biosciences, advanced medical imaging systems and advanced artificial organs (e.g., heart-assist and total artificial heart blood pumps, artificial livers). Among the most exciting new areas of biomedical engineering research is the newly defined discipline of cell and tissue engineering, which involves the modification of living cells and tissues to meet specific clinical needs (e.g., artificial skin). In their professional roles, biomedical engineers must be knowledgeable in both the life sciences and the engineering sciences. In many career roles, biomedical engineers serve an intermediary role in bridging the gap between classically trained engineers and medical practitioners. Basic life science preparation includes the study of cell biology and human anatomy and physiology. The engineering preparation includes basic mechanics, electrical and electronic circuits, materials science, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. Required mathematics include calculus, differential equations, matrix methods and statistics.

The educational objectives of the biomedical engineering program are:

  •  to provide students with a solid foundation in mathematics, the basic and engineering sciences and engineering design methods;
  •  to provide students with a comprehensive integration of engineering methods of problem-solving and design with the biological sciences;
  •  to develop the skills needed for work in the medical device industry, including a thorough coverage of engineering materials, biomaterials, biomechanics, medical device design and work in interdisciplinary teams;
  •  to provide essential laboratory experience with commonly used biomedical devices and systems and to provide coverage of methods for the design of experiments in medical and life science applications; and
  •  to provide a biomedical technology-based engineering background for students desiring admission to medical school with admission requirements being met through the appropriate selection of elective course work.

The university’s engineering programs are fully accredited by the ABET Engineering Accreditation Program.

Career Opportunities in Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineers work in a variety of settings including the biomedical product manufacturing industry, biomedical research and development organizations, hospitals (as clinical engineers), for governmental agencies (e.g., FDA, NASA, DOD), and in biomedical product technical sales. Work in many of the more challenging technical areas (e.g., cell and tissue engineering) requires an advanced degree. In addition to preparing students for careers as practicing biomedical engineers, a biomedical engineering program of study provides a sound preparation for a variety of health sciences careers. Many BME students are successful in gaining entry to health sciences professional programs (e.g., medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine) upon completion of the biomedical engineering curriculum. Since the health care professions utilize a wide variety of specialized biomedical equipment, it is likely that the engineering skills acquired in UT’s undergraduate BME program will benefit graduates in their future careers in the health sciences. A good resource is the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook

High School Preparation

The College of Engineering has established admissions criteria for incoming freshmen based on several performance criteria, including completion of core academic subjects, GPA scores on these subjects and standardized test (SAT or ACT) scores. A Success Prediction Indicator (SPI) number of 60 and a math ACT of 25 or a math SAT of 570 are minimum standards used for admission to the College of Engineering. The admitted class may also be limited by space available in the College. The SPI is calculated by adding an individual’s ACT mathematics score to 10 times their core high school GPA (based on a 4.0 scale). For information on what constitutes core high school courses, please consult admission website

SPI EXAMPLE: A student with a high school core GPA of 3.5 and an ACT mathematics score of 28 would have an SPI of 63 using the formula (3.5 X 10) + 28 = 63. SAT scores are converted to an equivalent ACT score to perform this calculation.

Students who wish to pursue a degree in the College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, but do not meet the college admission criterion may enroll as Arts and Sciences Exploratory students and complete appropriate mathematics, science, and other courses before applying for admission to the College of Engineering as an internal transfer student.

How to Major in Biomedical Engineering

The biomedical engineering degree program is administered by the UT Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering (MABE). Students applying to the university should specify biomedical engineering as their chosen major when completing the admission form. Students transferring from other departments within UT or from other educational institutions should contact the department for more information regarding the appropriate entry level and any additional required courses.

Requirements for Biomedical Engineering

The MABE department currently does not have any special requirements for admission to the biomedical engineering program, other than the general admission requirements for the university and the college. College of Engineering students are required to own laptop computers for class work. For more information, please visit

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

All UT freshman engineering students are automatically enrolled in the innovative Engage Engineering Fundamentals Program, designed to help students learn basic engineering concepts and teamwork skills through a series of hands-on projects and activities:

The College of Engineering’s Office of Professional Practice (EPP) provides income-generating opportunities for engineering students to experience realworld engineering challenges through cooperative education (co-op) and internship programs. Both programs offer structured learning environments where students develop increasing responsibilities by holding full-time paid positions in a professional environment related to their academic and career

In addition to financial and scholarship programs available to all students, the college also provides special scholarships and support programs to minority students, including:

The College of Engineering also participates in the University Honors Program, which is designed to give academically outstanding students a unique undergraduate experience consisting of special courses, seminars, mentoring and research projects: The College of Engineering also offers Honors programs in all Engineering majors

The UT Center for International Education collaborates with Engineering to create opportunities for engineering students to study in other countries:

Highlights of Biomedical Engineering

The college also offers a five-year B.S./M.S. program for high-achieving BME students. Individuals who qualify with first-year grade point averages of 3.5 or above can elect an accelerated and integrated program to earn both bachelor and master of science degrees in five years. Students are also encouraged to join the student chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society, a national professional organization that works to support students and professionals in the BME discipline.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career and to consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

For more information about opportunities for majors in the College of Engineering, please see the section of the Engineering Outreach Office website which highlights study abroad programs for engineering students.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Experience Learning

Experience Learning LogoExperience Learning is a bold new initiative with the goal of transforming the educational student experience at the University of Tennessee. Over a five-year period, UT will transform our culture to give students more opportunities to be involved in civic engagement, solve complex real-world problems, and contribute to the welfare of their communities as part of their regular course work.

The purpose of Experience Learning is to help students apply the knowledge, skills, and values learned in the classroom to real-world challenges. Experience Learning also seeks to engage student learning through direct experience and intense reflection to increase knowledge, acquire lifelong learning and problem-solving skills, and elucidate values.

Learn more about Experience Learning.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. Beginning with first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students entering in the Fall 2013 semester, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, go to Biomedical Engineering in the Undergraduate Catalog (

Honors Biomedical Engineering Concentration

In addition to satisfying the requirements for the biomedical engineering major, candidates for the honors concentration must also complete the following requirements.

  • First-year courses for honors concentrations in the engineering majors. (Note: Most of the honors requirements are course substitutions for the biomedical engineering major.)
  • Two upper-division honors courses in biomedical engineering (BME 367 , BME 477 ).
  • A minimum of 3-credit hours of an honors senior design course. This requirement is normally satisfied as part of the senior capstone design course (BME 469 ). 

Five-Year BS/MS Biomedical Engineering Program

The department offers a 5 year BS-MS program for qualified students. The primary component of the program is that qualified students may take up to 9 hours of approved graduate courses for their senior undergraduate electives and have them count toward both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Tennessee. This program is designed for students attending the University of Tennessee for their Master of Science degree because other universities may not accept these courses for graduate credit since they were used to satisfy requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree. Significant components of the program are:

  • Students must have an overall GPA of at least 3.4 to be admitted to the program. Conditional admission may be granted after completing 64 hours of required course work while full admission is granted after completing 96 hours of required course work with a minimum overall GPA of 3.4 in required course work.
  • Students must at least have conditional admission before taking graduate courses for both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. All courses taken for graduate credit must be approved by the departmental chair of the program. Students admitted to the program must request permission from the Graduate School to take approved courses for graduate credit. Students admitted to the program must also follow the normal procedure for admission to the Graduate School.
  • Admission of students into this program must be approved by the department and the Graduate School.
  • Students will not be eligible for graduate assistantships until they are enrolled as graduate-level students in the Graduate School.

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