Undergraduate Program

The objectives of the undergraduate program in biomedical engineering are as follows:

  1. Professional employment in areas such as the medical device industry, engineering consulting, and biotechnology;
  2. Graduate studies in biomedical engineering or related fields;
  3. Attendance at medical, dental, or other professional schools.

The undergraduate program in biomedical engineering will prepare graduates who will have:

        (a) an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
        (b) an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
        (c) an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic,
             environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability
        (d) an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams
        (e) an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
        (f) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
        (g) an ability to communicate effectively
        (h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and
             societal context
        (i) a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
        (j) a knowledge of contemporary issues
        (k) an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice
        (l) an understanding of biology and physiology
        (m) the capability to apply advanced mathematics (including differential equations and statistics), science, and engineering, to
              solve the problems at the interface of engineering and biology
        (n) the ability to make measurements on and interpret data from living systems, addressing the problems associated with the
             interaction between living and nonliving materials and systems.

The undergraduate curriculum is designed to provide broad knowledge of the physical and engineering sciences and their application to the solution of biological and medical problems. Students are strongly encouraged to take courses in the order specified in the course tables; implications of deviations should be discussed with a departmental adviser before registration. The first two years provides a strong grounding in the physical and chemical sciences, engineering fundamentals, mathematics, and modern biology. This background is used to provide a unique physical approach to the study of biological systems. The last two years of the undergraduate program provide substantial exposure to fundamentals in biomedical engineering with emphasis on the integration of principles of biomedical engineering, quantitative analysis of physiology, and experimental quantification and measurements of biomedical systems. The common core biomedical engineering curriculum provides a broad yet solid foundation in biomedical engineering. The flexible choice of technical electives in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, other departments in the Engineering School, as well as in other departments in the arts and sciences allows students to broaden their biomedical engineering education to their individualized interests for a personalized curriculum. These qualities allow the faculty to prepare students for activity in all contemporary areas of biomedical engineering. Graduates of the program are equipped for employment in the large industrial sector devoted to health care, which includes pharmaceuticals, medical devices, artificial organs, prosthetics and sensory aids, diagnostics, medical instrumentation, and medical imaging. Graduates also accept employment in oversight organizations (FDA, NIH, OSHA, and others), medical centers, and research institutes. They are prepared for graduate study in biomedical engineering and several related areas of engineering and the health sciences. Students can meet entrance requirements for graduate training in the various allied health professions. No more than three additional courses are required to satisfy entrance requirements for most U.S. medical schools.

All biomedical engineering students are expected to register for nontechnical electives, both those specifically required by the School of Engineering and Applied Science and those needed to meet the 27-point total of nontechnical electives required for graduation.

First and Second Years

As outlined in this bulletin, in the first two years, all engineering students are expected to complete a sequence of courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science, engineering, modern biology, English composition, and physical education, as
well as nontechnical electives including the humanities. For most of these sequences, the students may choose from two or more tracks. If there is a question regarding the acceptability of a course as a nontechnical elective, please consult the approved listing of courses or contact your advising dean for clarification.

Please see the charts in this section for a specific description of course requirements.

For students who are interested in the biomedical engineering major, they must take E1201: Introduction to electrical engineering. For the computer science requirement, students must take ENGI W1006. They must take the two-semester BIOL UN2005 and UN2006: Introduction to Biology I & II in the second year, which gives students a comprehensive overview of modern biology from molecular to organ system levels. In addition, all students must take APMA E2101: Introduction to applied mathematics in their second year.

Third and Fourth Years

The biomedical engineering programs at Columbia are based on engineering and biological fundamentals. This is emphasized in our core requirements. All students must take the two-semester introduction to biomedical engineering courses, BMEN E3010 and E3020: Biomedical engineering I & II, which provide a broad yet solid foundation in the biomedical engineering discipline. In parallel, all students take the two-semester Quantitative physiology, I and II sequence (BMEN E4001-E4002), which is taught by biomedical engineering faculty and emphasizes quantitative applications of engineering principles in understanding biological systems and phenomena from molecular to organ system levels. In the fields of biomedical engineering, experimental techniques and principles
are fundamental skills that good biomedical engineers must master. Beginning in junior year, all students take the two-semester sequence Biomedical engineering laboratory, I&II (BMEN E3810, E3820). In this twosemester series, students learn through hands-on experience the principles and methods of biomedical engineering experimentation, measurement techniques, quantitative theories of biomedical engineering, data analysis, and independent design of biomedical engineering experiments, in parallel to the Biomedical engineering I & II and Quantitative physiology I & II courses. In addition, all students must take BMEN E4110: Biostatistics for engineers. In the senior year, students are required to take a two-semester capstone design course, Biomedical engineering design (BMEN E3910 and E3920), in which students work within a team to tackle an open-ended design project in biomedical engineering. The underlying philosophy of these core requirements is to provide our biomedical engineering students with a broad knowledge and
understanding of topics in the field of biomedical engineering. Parallel to these studies in core courses, students are required to take flexible technical elective courses (21 points) to obtain an in-depth understanding of their chosen interests. A technical elective is defined as a 3000-level or above course taught in SEAS or 3000-level or above courses in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or biotechnology. At least 15 points (five courses) of these technical electives must have engineering content, while at least two of the five courses have to be from the Department of Biomedical Engineering. The curriculum prepares students who wish to pursue careers in medicine by satisfying most requirements in the premedical programs with no more than three additional courses. Some of these additional courses may also be counted as nonengineering technical electives. Please see the course tables for schedules leading to a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering.

It is strongly advised that students take required courses during the specific term that they are designated in the course tables, as scheduling conflicts may arise if courses are taken out of sequence.

Technical Elective Requirements

Students are required to take at least 48 points of engineering content coursework toward their degree. The 48-point requirement is a criterion established by ABET. Taking into consideration the number of engineering content points conferred by the required courses of the BME curriculum, a portion of technical electives must be clearly engineering in nature (Engineering Content Technical Electives), specifically as defined below:

  1. Technical elective courses with sufficient engineering content that can count toward the 48 units of engineering courses required for ABET accreditation:
    1. All 3000-level or higher courses in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, except BMEN E4010, E4103, E4104, E4105, E4106, E4107, and E4108. (Note that only 3 points of BMEN E3998 may be counted toward technical elective degree requirements.)
    2. All 3000-level or higher courses in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, except MECE E4007: Creative engineering and entrepreneurship
    3. All 3000-level or higher courses in the Department of Chemical Engineering, except CHEN E4020: Safeguarding intellectual and business property
    4. All 3000-level or higher courses in the Department of Electrical Engineering, except EEHS E3900: History of telecommunications: from the telegraph to the Internet
    5. All 3000-level or higher courses in the Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics program, except CIEN E4128, E4129, E4130, E4131, E4132, E4133, E4134, E4135, E4136, and E4140
    6. All 3000-level or higher courses in the Earth and Environmental Engineering program
       
  2. Courses from the following departments are not allowed to count toward the required 48 units of engineering courses:
    1. Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics
    2. Department of Computer Science
    3. Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research
    4. Program of Materials Science and Engineering

Once 48 points of engineering content are satisfied, students may choose any course above the 3000 level in Columbia Engineering as well as biology, chemistry, biochemistry, and biotechnology as technical electives.

The accompanying charts describe the eight-semester degree program schedule of courses leading to the bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering.

If the 3000-level course is greater than or equal to the course cross listed, its eligibility as an engineering content technical elective is determined by the call letters of the first (owning) department in the course name designation. The department owning the course must be ABET accredited to be considered engineering. For example, APBM E4560 Anatomy for physicists & engineers does not count as engineering content technical elective, since the course is owned by Applied Physics (and cross-listed with Biomedical Engineering). BMCH E4810 Artificial organs is counted as an engineering content technical elective, as the course is owned by Biomedical Engineering (and cross listed with Chemical Engineering). Based on the above for Engineering Technical Electives, a cross-listed course that is greater than or equal to 3000 level and with BMEN as its starting call letters will qualify as a BME Engineering Technical Elective. The accompanying charts describe the eight-semester degree program schedule of courses leading to the bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering.

The undergraduate Biomedical Engineering program is designed to provide a solid biomedical engineering curriculum through its core requirements while providing flexibility to meet the individualized interests of the students. The following are suggested sample courses for various topic areas that students may consider. Note that students are not limited to these choices. All students are encouraged to design their own educational paths through flexible technical electives while meeting the following requirements: (1) courses must be at the 3000-level or above; (2) five of the seven electives must meet the above criteria to be considered engineering content; and (3) two of the seven electives must be biomedical engineering courses. To help students choose their electives, the following suggested sample curricula in various interest fields in biomedical engineering are provided. Students do not need to follow them rigidly and may substitute other courses, provided they meet the requirements above.

CELL AND TISSUE ENGINEERING
CHEM UN2443: Organic chemistry I (3.5)
CHEM UN2444: Organics chemistry II (3.5)
BMCH E4500: Biological transport and rate process (3)
BMEN E4510: Tissue engineering (3)
BMEN E4590: BioMems: cellular and molecular applicati (3)
BMEN E4210: Thermodynamics of biological systems (3)
BMEN E4550: Micro- and nanostructures in cellular engineering (3)

BIOMECHANICS
MECE E3100: Introduction to mechanics of fluids (3)
EMEN E3105: Mechanics (4)
MECE E3113: Mechanics of solids (3)
MECE E3301: Thermodynamics (3)
BMEN E4310: Solid biomechanics (3)
BMEN E4320: Fluid biomechanics (3)
BMEN E4340: Biomechanics of cells (3)

BIOSIGNALS AND BIOMEDICAL IMAGING
ELEN E3810: Signals and systems (3.5)
BMEN E4410: Ultrasound imaging (3)
BMEN E4420: Biosignal process and modeling (3)
BMEN E4430: Principles of MRI (3)
ELEN E4810: Digital signal processing (3)
BMEN E4894: Biomedical imaging (3)
BMEN E4898: Biophotonics (3)

NEURAL ENGINEERING
ELEN E3810: Signals and systems (3.5)
BMEB W4020: Computational neuroscience: circuits in the brain (3)
BMEE E4030: Neural control engineering (3)
BMEN E4420: Biosignal process and modeling (3)
BMEN E4430: Principles of MRI (3)
ELEN E4810: Digital signal processing (3)
BMEN E4894: Biomedical imaging (3)

GENOMICS AND SYSTEMS BIOLOGY
ECBM E4060: Introduction to genomic information science and technology (3)
BMEN E4150: The cell as a machine (3)
CHBM E4321: The genome and the cell (3)
BMEN E4420: Biosignal process and modeling (3)
CHEN E4700: Principles of genomic technologies (3)
CHEN E4760: Genomics sequence laboratory (3)
CHEN E4800: Protein engineering (3)

QUANTITATIVE BIOLOGY
BMEB W4020: Computational neuroscience: circuits in the brain (3)
ECBM E4060: Introduction to genomic information science and technology (3)
BIOL GU4070: The biology and physics of single molecules (3.5)
BMEN E4310: Solid biomechanics (3)
BMEN E4320: Fluid biomechanics (3)
APMA E4400: Introduction to biological modeling (3)
CHEN E4650: Biopolymers (3)

BIOINDUCTIVE AND BIOMIMETIC MATERIALS
CHEM UN2443: Organic chemistry I (3.5)
BMCH E4500: Biological transport process (3)
BMEN E4510: Tissue engineering (3)
BMEN E4590: BioMems: cellular and molecular applications (3)
CHEN E4620: Introduction to polymers and soft materials (3)
CHEN E4640: Polymer surface and interface (3)
CHEN E4800: Protein engineering (3)

BIOMATERIALS
CHEM UN2443: Organic chemistry I (3.5)
BMCH E3000: Biological transport process (3)
BMEN E4301: Structure, mechanics, and adaptation of bone (3)
BMEN E4310: Solid biomechanics (3)
BMEN E4510: Tissue engineering (3)
BMEN E4590: BioMems: cellular and molecular applications (3)
ELEN E4944: Principles of device microfabrication (3)

BIOMEMS AND NANOTECHNOLOGY
MECE E3100: Introduction to mechanics of fluids (3)
ENME E3105: Mechanics (4)
MECE E3113: Mechanics of solids (3)
MSAE E4090: Nanotechnology (3)
MECE E4212: Microelectromechanical systems (3)
MEBM E4550: Micro- and nanostructures in cellular engineering (3)
BMEN E4590: BioMEMS: cellular and molecular applications (3)

ROBOTICS AND CONTROL OF BIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS
MECE E3100: Introduction to mechanics of fluids (3)
ENME E3105: Mechanics (4)
MECE E3113: Mechanics of solids (3)
BMEE E4030: Neural control engineering (3)
MEBM E4439: Modeling and identification of dynamic systems (3)
MECE E4602: Introduction to robotics (3)

BMEE E4740: Bioinstrumentation (3)

PRE-MED AND PRE-HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
MECE E3100: Introduction to mechanics of fluids (3)
ENME E3105: Mechanics (4)
MECE E3113: Mechanics of solids (3)
CHEM UN2443: Organic chemistry I (3.5)
CHEM UN2444: Organic chemistry II (3.5)
BMEN E4310: Solid biomechanics (3)
BMEN E4320: Fluid biomechanics (3)

To meet entrance requirements of most U.S. medical schools, students will need to take BIOC UN3501 Biochemistry: Structure and metabolism (4), CHEM UN2545 Organic chemistry laboratory (3), PHYS UN1493: Introduction to experimental physics (3), and PSYC UN1001: The science of psychology (3) as well.