Josseline Paulino arrived at Preview this summer with a clear career path in mind.
Although she has wanted to become a doctor since about age 12, she never considered majoring in biomedical engineering to get there.
When the major was introduced at Preview, Paulino’s interest piqued.
“I thought it was really cool, so I looked it up and fell in love with it,” the 18-year-old freshman said.
UF’s College of Engineering is offering a biomedical engineering major this Fall for the first time. The inaugural class has 20 students, but the program will expand to accept 30 students in Fall 2013, said Hans van Oostrom, the undergraduate coordinator for the new bachelor’s program.
About 70 freshmen have indicated interest in the major, van Oostrom said. The gender split is about 50-50.
The freshmen haven’t yet been accepted into the major, but many of them are taking critical tracking courses with plans to apply for the major later on. To be admitted into the limited-access program, applicants must complete four semesters of the prebiomedical-engineering semester plan.
The major combines core engineering courses with biology courses, van Oostrom said. Each student in the program chooses a specific track within the major, such as neural engineering, medical physics or imaging, biomechanics or biomaterials.
“They come out with not just general knowledge but also specialized knowledge in one area of biomedical engineering,” van Oostrom said.
Alex Koblick, 20, has already chosen neural engineering, which involves studying the nervous system, as his specialty. The junior is one of the 20 students officially enrolled in this Fall’s program.
Koblick said he knew the college didn’t have an undergraduate biomedical engineering major when he started at UF, but he hoped the program would be added.
“I always kept my eye on it, and I kept it in the back of my mind,” Koblick said, adding that he shares many of his classes with graduate students.
UF has had a graduate biomedical engineering program since 2002, according to its website. About 140 graduate students are enrolled, van Oostrom said.
A combined degree program that would offer a bachelor’s and master’s in biomedical engineering may be available in 2013.
“It’s a great field to be in, and it’s growing very popular,” he said.
Students can look up the semester plan and learn more about the major at www.undergraduate.bme.ufl.edu.