Biomedical Engineering - Carnegie Mellon University

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Research Experience

Undergraduate research opportunities allow students to apply their classroom knowledge to real life cutting-edge projects. Students are advised to do research not as an attempt to boost the appearance of their resumé, but to meet their curiosity and creativity and further their engineering skills. To be successful, students must proactively identify their own interest areas and search for matching faculty mentors.

Doing research involves serious commitment and considerable stress on the schedule. Students are therefore discouraged from engaging in research until after the freshmen year. This would allow them to be acclimated to the rigorous academic load and to take classes that lay a groundwork for research skills

The research may take place during the academic year or summer. Students may perform research either as a paid Research Assistant if funding is available, or for earning course units through the registeration of 42-x00 Biomedical Engineering Research Project or 39-500 CIT Honors Thesis if eligible. One (but not more than one) semester of research, if registered for at least nine units, may be counted as a restricted elective course toward the BME additional major. Students are not allowed to receive a payment for research registered for course units.

Summer Research

Both the University (through the SURF program) and Biomedical Engineering Department (see below) have established competitive funding mechanisms for supporting students who are interested in performing research during the summer. Some advisors may also support summer research through their research grants. While a student may choose to earn course units from summer research, this would preclude the financial support and incur a summer tuition.

Tips for Current Students Interested in Pursuing Research

  • Start by visiting the Biomedical Engineering Faculty Directory and focusing on the names marked with a #. Also attend the research open house organized by the undergraduate BMES.
  • Read about the identified faculty members using the links on Faculty Directory. Develop an understanding of the ongoing research projects.
  • Send an inquiry to professor(s) of interest. The message should describe coursework, relevant skills, and research experiences. Also indicate the number of available hours per week and their distribution.
  • If the professor declines the application, ask about any preparations needed for future consideration. Note that the qualification varies among the professors and projects. In addition, opportunities may be created after a professor meets a strong student.
  • Arrange a meeting if the professor appears interested. Discuss the expectation and consider shadowing a graduate student or attending a group meeting. Determine if the lab environment is compatible with personal preferences, keeping in mind that personality match can be as important as research topics.
  • In order to receive a grade for 42-x00, a research proposal of two to three pages must be submitted to the Associate Department Head within the first three weeks of classes. In addition, a summary of two to three pages must be submitted to the Associate Department Head by the last day of classes.
  • Promising summer projects may be continued in the following academic year. Students are encouraged to discuss with the advisor the possibility of developing an abstract for submission to a national conference such as the BMES Annual Meeting, which carries multiple strong career benefits. See also the Travel Assistance Program below.

Biomedical Engineering Summer Undergraduate Research Program (BME-SURP)

This program allows students to spend a ten-week period on a project that combines translational research and clinical exposure at a local medical center. Hundreds of students have participated in BME-SURP since its introduction in 1980. The experience have played a major role in helping students choose their career paths and obtain positions in industrial or academia.

Eligibility: The program is ONLY intended for students who have declarared an additional major in Biomedical Engineering and have completed their sophomore year.

Applications: Students must submit the following:

  • A current resumé
  • A statement of research interests, to include:
    a. Names of three (3) participating faculty members in the order of preference.
    b. For each desired faculty member, include a brief statement of the reason why the project is of interest, and why the student represents a good match.

Matching Procedure: BME Department first matches each applicant tentatively with one or more potential mentors based on indicated mutual interest. The mentor may further select from the student candidates for interview, then submit his/her perferences to the BME Department, which makes a final matching decision. Switching mentor is not permitted once a student has accepted a position. Due to limited financial resources, there is no guarantee that all applicants will receive an offer.

Research Conference: A Research Conference is held at the end of the summer, when each student will present his/her research in poster format. Participation is mandatory in order for the student to receive the final paycheck.

Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Travel Assistance Program

The purpose of this program is to promote career development of BME undergraduate students by supporting travel activities associated with academic visibility on a national or international platform.

Eligibility:The program is ONLY intended for students who have declarared an additional major in Biomedical Engineering. The trip must be related to research in biomedical engineering, and must be associated with significant honor or visibility, such as presentation at a major national conference or receiving a major award. Students should also seek assistance from their other major department, as well as the College of Engineering Dean's Office and University Research Office.

Download the application form (docx). 

Research opportunities allow students to apply classroom knowledge to cutting-edge real life projects. Many BME students perform research as part of the college education.
Research should be driven by a strong motivation to exercise curiosity and creativity. Students must proactively identify their own interest areas.
Hundreds of students have participated in and benefited from BME's Summer Research Program since its introduction in 1980.
BME's Summer Research Program involves adjunct faculty and physicians at local hospitals, and projects that combine translational research with clinical exposure.
Promising summer projects may be continued during the following academic year, to develop an abstract for submission to a national conference such as the BMES Annual Meeting.
To help the development of reserach career, BME holds a workshop each Fall to discuss key elements for a successful graduate school application.