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Batten College to Create an Interdisciplinary Minor in Biomedical Engineering

Old Dominion University's Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology (BCET) is creating an interdisciplinary biomedical engineering minor that will start this fall.

Biomedical engineering is a field where traditional engineering principles and skills are applied to problems in healthcare, medicine and biology. It is one of the fastest growing areas of research and job development in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

New expertise recently added to the BCET faculty makes ODU well-positioned to offer this career-enhancing minor to students, said the college's dean, Oktay Baysal.

Faculty members such as Stephen Knisley, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Dean Krusienski, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, both of whom joined ODU in the past two years, are recognized biomedical engineering experts.

"The accomplishments of Steve Knisley and Dean Krusienski, coupled with the scholarly work of other faculty members such as those at the Frank Reidy Center for Bioelectrics, means students in the colleges of engineering, sciences, education and health sciences can acquire real-world skills from a number of recognized experts in the field," Baysal said.

In a proposal to ODU Provost Carol Simpson, the designers of the minor cited statistics that show biomedical engineering is growing faster than other disciplines, offers more opportunities for employment, attracts more female students, and would be an ideal incubator for interdisciplinary research.

"The biomedical engineering (workforce) has increased by 220 percent between 2001 and 2009. The total increase in all engineering fields was only 16 percent in that time," the BCET proposal said.

The BCET estimates that as many as 12 or 15 students, from four possible colleges, will opt to take the biomedical engineering minor within a few years.

The minor requires two new biomedical engineering courses - Biomedical Engineering Design and Innovation and Biomedical Engineering Principles - along with one elective course and one approved major course.

Recruitment of students has already begun into the minor. Students can retroactively apply courses they've taken in order to meet the biomedical engineering minor requirements, with approval of the supervising faculty.

Knisley will serve as faculty adviser for the biomedical engineering minor. Courses for the minor will be taught by biomedical engineering faculty members, including Christian Zemlin, a new faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Eastern Virginia Medical School faculty members may also give visiting lectures.

The biomedical engineering minor joins a marine engineering minor, which was made available to students in BCET and the College of Sciences in the past year.

Marine engineering has been one of the "overlooked" engineering fields, with only a handful of universities offering programs in this area, according to Batten College officials.

Only a handful of the thousands of container ships built around the world every year actually are constructed in the United States. Without the manufacturing capacity, despite the fact many of these container ships travel to and from the United States, even the repair and maintenance work will need to be done overseas.

ODU is also in a strategic location for workforce development. The world's largest naval base and the third-largest port on the East Coast are both in Hampton Roads.

This article was posted on: March 3, 2011

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