Bioengineering or Biomedical Engineering is a discipline at the intersection of biology, life sciences, medicine and engineering. It has emerged from the more traditional engineering subdisciplines of chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering and is currently the fastest growing engineering subdiscipline (the number of programs has increased rapidly and there are currently about 100 undergraduate programs in the U.S.). Students are drawn to the field by the exciting advances in technology which have enhanced our understanding of complex biological systems and enabled tremendous improvements in medical care. An excellent overview of the field is available through the Bureau of Labor and Statistics website in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
The Bioengineering Program at Union College grew out of close collaborations on projects between professors and students in the Biological Sciences, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering departments. This led to the creation of a Bioengineering minor in 2005. The major was instituted in 2008 and the first students graduated from the program in 2011. The Union College Bioengineering Program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org/. As Union College does not have an associated medical school, the program was titled Bioengineering to reflect the close ties with the Biological Sciences department. Students in the major take foundational and elective courses in Biology, Bioinstrumentation and Biosignals, Biomechanics and Biomaterials.
Students in the Bioengineering Program at Union College are drawn to a high quality, ABET accredited, engineering experience in a liberal arts college. It is one of very few bioengineering programs nationwide offered in a liberal arts setting. Most students in the program have a range of interests outside engineering and they have the opportunity at Union College to explore these interests with a high percentage of the Bioengineering students pursuing a minor in a different discipline that can range from Theater to Economics to Mathematics. Class sizes are small (<25 students) and many classes have associated lab sections (<16 students) which allows students to gain hands-on experience. Many students do research projects with faculty during the school year or over the summer break. Students in the program recently formed a chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society at Union College. Students are also very active in a wide variety of engineering clubs, intermural and intramural athletics.