New Concentration in Biomedical Engineering

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To meet the demand for more engineers in the growing profession of biotechnology, the Lee College of Engineering’s Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science Department has started a new undergraduate Concentration in Biomedical Engineering.

The concentration began in spring 2015. It will have its first graduates in May 2016.

“Biomedical engineers provide a great link between clinicians on the medical side and engineers on the design and manufacturing side,” said Dr. Gloria Elliott, a Mechanical Engineering professor and director of the new concentration. “They can understand what the clinicians need and speak the same language as the engineers in developing the solution or product.”

The Charlotte region is increasing its expertise in the diverse field of biotechnology, with new jobs being created in the advanced research and development of devices, tissue engineering, cryogenics, robotics and more.

“There has been a lot of student demand for courses in biomedical engineering,” Dr. Elliott said, “which led us to developing the concentration. It is a field that attracts a lot of female and minority students, which is great. In the future, we may have a full undergraduate degree program in biomedical engineering.”

Freshman Luke Lowry decided to enroll in the Biomedical Engineering Concentration because of his combined interest in medicine and engineering. “Growing up, I thought I wanted to do the pre-med route like my father had done,” Lowry said. “Later on, I decided I was more interested in engineering. So, the Biomedical Engineering Concentration appealed to me because it is a combination of engineering and medical applications.”

Lowry said he is interested in the equipment side of medicine, including prosthetics and devices. “As a career I’d like to do mechanics such as pacemakers, prosthetics and such. I’m hoping the concentration will offer some specialized technical electives in those areas while I’m here.”

Another freshman in the Biomedical Engineering Concentration, Robert Jenkins is interested in a career in cellular regeneration or perhaps prosthetics. “Since high school I’ve wanted to go into biomedicine,” Jenkins said. “What appeals to me about this program is that it is a concentration, so I still get the breadth of the mechanical engineering degree and the specialization of medical.”

To develop a network of students and faculty with interests in biomedical engineering, Jenkins and Lowry have started the Biomedical Engineering Society Student Chapter of UNC Charlotte. The chapter just got its start in the 2016 spring semester, and plans are to increase activities in the fall with guest lectures, networking events and outreach programs.

The Biomedical Engineering Concentration begins during the freshman year, when students take Biology 1110 or 2120 as their science elective. “We really want to get our hands on them early,” Dr. Elliott said, “so we start them in biology during the first year. From there we want to help them get involved in research labs and summer REU programs, which will better prepare them for biomedical engineering senior design projects, as well as their careers in this field.”

During their sophomore year, Biomedical Engineering Concentration students take the new Mechanical Engineering course MEGR 2279 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering. The course is an introduction to all of the biomedical disciplines that are emphasized at UNCC, such as molecular engineering, cryopreservation, biotransport, biomaterials, micro-fluidics, medical therapies and technologies, and biomechanics.

The junior year is comprised of standard mechanical engineering coursework. As seniors, students in the concentration take four biomedical technical electives and do a biomedical engineering-based senior design project.

The core faculty for the concentration are Elliott, Charles Lee, Ahmed El-Ghannam, Nigel Zheng and Hansang Cho. Each faculty member will be teaching technical electives in their own areas of expertise.

For more information about the Biomedical Engineering concentration contact Dr. Elliott at

For more information about the Biomedical Engineering Society Student Chapter email questions to