Stefan Candefjord assigned Head of Programme for the new programme in biomedical engineering

Just before the summer, Chalmers gave the go-ahead to a new undergraduate programme in biomedical engineering. Stefan Candefjord, Assistant Professor at MedTech West and the division Signal processing and biomedical engineering at E2, was recently appointed Head of Programme.

“I am really looking forward to taking on this assignment, and I feel honoured to be entrusted with this task. I am passionate about biomedical engineering and strongly desire to contribute to the development of the field. My hope is that the programme will also have a positive impact on the research activities in biomedical engineering at Chalmers. The new undergraduate programme will provide new relationships with the healthcare sector and the industry, and a closer cooperation with the Sahlgrenska Academy. It will allow us to gather around student projects that could potentially bloom into new applications”, says Stefan Candefjord.

Similar engineering programmes are offered at Lund University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Linköping University. These programmes all have high numbers of applicants and high merit ratings. Jörgen Blennow, Dean of Education for EDIT-I (Electrical engineering, Computer engineering, Software engineering, Industrial engineering and management) has thus reason to believe that all 60 places will fill up from the start.

“It is a fairly unique decision by the President to launch a new undergraduate programme. It was about ten years ago since it last happened. I think that the programme in biomedical engineering will attract new categories of students to Chalmers, of which many will be female applicants, says Jörgen Blennow, who is very engaged in equality issues in Chalmers’ undergraduate education.

The focus of the new programme will be on biomedical engineering and mathematical models, in close collaboration with the healthcare sector for students to fully understand the challenges facing healthcare, Stefan Candefjord explains. Students will also get familiar with artificial intelligence early on.

The design process of the programme is now in full swing as the first class will start in the fall of 2020. However, the preparations for a new engineering programme have been underway for a long time. The fact that the programme is now a reality is ultimately the result of the efforts made by Mikael Persson, Professor and Head of the division Signal processing and biomedical engineering. Good preparations aside, many challenges still lie ahead in starting a brand-new undergraduate programme.

“The students should be able to perceive the programme as a coherent whole. It is crucial in creating an identity as biomedical engineer, especially since the field is not as well established as other more traditional fields of engineering. We cannot lean too much on the existing selection of courses, the foundation must be built on biomedical engineering”, says Stefan.

A new range of courses will also have a direct impact on the teaching activities at E2. The existing Master's programme in biomedical engineering will need to be further developed, not only to be a natural extension of the undergraduate education, but also to continue to attract international Master's students with various educational backgrounds.

There is a great demand for biomedical engineers, today and in the future. As modern healthcare is being digitalised, engineers are needed in order to lead the technology development. With an aging population comes an increasing need for medical care. To meet these needs, new forms of care are emerging, which in turn will place demands on new technology.

“One example is home care. We know the demand will increase, which calls for well-designed technology for the home, for example to monitor patients' health data”, says Stefan.

The job market in the biomedical engineering field looks bright. The industry is growing globally by around 7–8 percent per year. In Sweden, too, the industry is traditionally strong and in the Gothenburg region there is a wide range of companies in biomedical engineering and life science. In the future, hospitals will probably employ more engineers of their own.

“Engineers working in the healthcare sector will need to have a good understanding of medicine and the medical vocabulary in order to communicate with these professions. In addition to learning the physics and mathematics behind the technology, it is equally important that students gain an understanding of public health challenges in general, the challenges faced by the healthcare sector, and an understanding of how things work on-site in various health care facilities”, Stefan concludes.

Source: Chalmers University of Technology

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