Biomedical Engineering Starts Here

Exciting news for those who have been asking about Biomedical Engineering at Waterloo!  All the necessary internal and external approvals have been received and we are launching an undergraduate (B.A.Sc.) program in September 2014.  So the OUAC application centre should now be able to take applications to this program.

A prosthetic eye, an example of a biomedical e...
A prosthetic eye, an example of a biomedical engineering application of mechanical engineering and biocompatible materials to ophthalmology. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll provide some brief details about the program below, and then some more detailed thoughts and comparisons in future posts.

  • Like all of our engineering programs, this one will have program-specific courses right from the first day, and will be a mandatory co-op program (alternating 4 month periods of academic and industry work experience).
  • This will be a modified Stream 8 program (i.e. the first co-op job starts at the end of 1st year, after 8 months of academic study).  One unique feature is an 8 month workterm between 3rd and 4th year, followed by eight months of academic work.  This gives more time to focus on one work term job, and more time to focus on a major design project in 4th year.
  • The Biomedical Engineering program is a joint undertaking with input and teaching by several departments including Systems Design Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Biology, and the School of Anatomy.  It pulls together a lot of biomedical engineering expertise that already exists across those departments.
  • The curriculum was designed with significant input from industry and graduate schools, so it should be very relevant for either path.
  • Admission requirements:  same course requirements as all of our other engineering programs. (in Ontario, ENG4U, SPH4U, SCH4U, MHF4U, MCV4U, + one other U/M course).  High school biology is not required.
  • Grade requirements?  Hard to say, because that depends on the level of competition (i.e. number of applicants and their grades).  There are only 45 spaces available in 2014, so we are guessing that mid to high 80’s might be necessary but it could go higher or lower.  If you are interested, just apply and see what happens.
  • Another unique feature:  the program provides the opportunity to focus in a couple of interesting areas, namely Neuroscience and Sports Engineering.
  • It is expected that there will be significant interactions with Waterloo’s Department of Kinesiology, as well as the Schools of Computer Science, Pharmacy, Optometry & Vision Science, and the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience.  A lot of biomedical research already takes place at Waterloo, as brought together in our Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology, so there should be opportunities for students to work on research projects (as there are with all of our programs).

There are other details I will cover later, but let me know in the comments if there are specific topics or questions I should try to address.

39 thoughts on “Biomedical Engineering Starts Here

  1. So exciting!! Hm, we should really get all of this stuff on the actual Waterloo Engineering website…all of this info is super useful, and a lot of it new.

  2. Pingback: Introducing Biomedical Engineering at uWaterloo | Engineering Girls at University of Waterloo

    • There will be some available but it is not necessarily a fixed number in a specific program. Overall in engineering about 15% of spaces are open to visa students, which would translate into about 5 of the 45, potentially.

  3. I’m currently a first year student studying electrical engineering at a different university. However this new program sounds really exciting! Would it be possible for me to apply to it as a transfer student?

  4. Hello professor, if you don’t mind me asking the question, how did you approximate that the individual selection average would be around mid 80s to high 80s? Considering that the program only accepts 45 people and there are many people who are interested in this program, isn’t the average probably much higher?

    • To quote from the Biomed Eng webpage:

      The Biomedical Engineering program is not designed to be a “pre-med” program and so, some of the requirements for medical school applications are not fulfilled by the program. However, the curriculum contains courses that will count toward entry into medical school.

      One problem is that medical schools have a variety of different entrance requirements for courses, so it’s not feasible to design a curriculum that covers all those and also meets the professional engineering requirements. There are occasionally students that go into medicine from engineering, and that will probably continue. But I wouldn’t see Biomed Eng as a particularly better route. For students whose definite and ultimate goal is medicine, we have always suggested that engineering is maybe not the best route.

    • I completely agree with Prof.Bill Anderson. If you would like to get into med school for sure then engineering may definitely be not the right path to start with. I wouldn’t say it’s hard or nearly impossible to get a high GPA in engineering but you need to work SUPER SUPER hard to achieve that while you can optimally achieve those goals easily being in sciences as long as you have good study habits. So, I would definitely recommend not to get into engineering if you don’t have a passion for it.

  5. I am in second year Biomedical Engineering at a different institution. I am so excited to hear that Waterloo’s also starting this program. Will you accept transfer students as well? Is there a possibility to start from third year?

    • We won’t be able to accept transfers into Biomed Eng, because none of the 2nd year and higher courses or facilities will be operational until our first class gets to that stage (i.e. it’s a rolling start-up).

  6. Is the course load any different compared to other engineering streams (e.g. Chemical Engineering)? I am not sure but it appears online that first years have 7 courses/term which is heavier than the usual 5.

    • No the course load is about the same as other programs. Several of the courses are actually 1/2 courses, so it looks like there are more courses, but the credit weight adds up to the same as in other programs.

  7. Which companies offer co-op for students….and what kind of experience should student get for better future job

  8. My guidance counselor mentioned to me that he thinks that offers of admission for this program might come out a bit later than the rest (at least “early” offers). His reasoning was that, since it’s a new program without any historical data to look back on, it will be difficult to judge just what exactly the cutoff and range are (which I understand). However I feel that I will be well above the cutoff, whatever it happens to be. Do you expect early offers to be coming out at a comparable time to the rest of the programs? Or will this bit of uncertainty delay the process somewhat?

    • CEAB accreditation rules state that new programs cannot be accredited until the first class graduates. So that will be in 2019. Assuming the accreditation is successful, the first class will be graduating from an accredited program. (We’ve never been unsuccessful at accreditation.)

  9. Hi there. I applied to Waterloo Biomedical Eng. and I got an email saying the admission is not available “at this time” (which is sadly absolutely reasonable knowing how my first semester marks were) but I am currently retaking two courses so is there a slight chance I may get an offer after my midterms are sent?

  10. Hi Sir
    My son wants to apply(fall 2017 freshmen) as an international student to waterloo for BME.he is in grade 12th now.Your first BME batch students will graduate in 2019, since program is new how is it going on? any feedback i can get about co-op?
    Thank You

  11. Dear Professor
    I was wondering if you can reveal the minimum average for acceptance in the program last year. My daughter is interested in the program and has average of 90% so far. I would like to know if she has a chance to get in or not to bother.

    • There is no minimum average, and a few people with marks in the high 80s have been admitted in the past. It is highly competitive however, so it’s best not to count on it. Of course, no application = no chance.

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