"We are extremely pleased to have the support of The Whitaker Foundation to build a world-class biomedical engineering department," stated Frank C.P. Yin, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the department and director of the university's Institute of Biological and Medical Engineering. (Yin also is Steven F. and Camilla T. Brauer Professor of Biomedical Engineering.) "We will be recruiting a mix of outstanding senior and junior faculty. Once the building and the new faculty are in place, we will be more than ready to meet the demand for biomedical engineering, which already is extremely popular with our students."
Christopher I. Byrnes, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said this high demand was anticipated early on in the planning for the 21st century. "The need for a strong biomedical engineering department was identified as one of the school's top priorities during our Project 21 planning process," Byrnes noted.
Recognizing the need to begin building a biomedical engineering center, the new department was introduced in the fall of 1997, with 50 freshman students expressing an interest in a major. This fall, nearly one-third of the 270 incoming engineering freshmen have declared an interest in the biomedical engineering major. Roughly half of the engineering students earning a bachelor's degree pursue a medical degree, with the other half going into industry or academia. The department currently enrolls 29 graduate students, 19 doctoral candidates and 10 master's degree students.
"The Biomedical Engineering department has been growing steadily, with the resulting growing pains," said Byrnes. "The Foundation's awards will transform the young department with limited space into a major center of research and teaching."