Prospective Undergraduate: Distinctive Features
Creativity, Research, Design: Characteristics of Tulane's Undergraduate Program
Tulane's Department of Biomedical Engineering is one of the original BMEN departments in the United States (founded in 1977), and has been accredited continuously since 1981. Our program is therefore very mature, though we do make modifications as the field evolves. There are many distinctive features to our curriculum that make us one of the strongest departments in the nation. We have a philosophy of 'rigorous breadth' in this curriculum, which includes the following characteristics:
Distinctive features of Tulane's undergraduate curriculum:
- One full year of Anatomy and Physiology. In the first semester of the junior year, all students take a Human Anatomy course with a Gross Anatomy laboratory. The second semester is a Quantitative Physiology course that is taught by faculty from Tulane's School of Medicine
- Two and one-half years of Mathematics, culminating in the course "Mathematical Modeling and Analysis of Biological Systems"
- Junior-level "domain" courses in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Biomechanics, Transport in Cells & Organs, Elements of BME Design, Processing of Biomaterials, and Projects in Embedded Control Systems. Each student is required to complete two domain courses with a follow-up graduate-level course.
- Each student participates in a full one-year group design project to develop devices to aid individuals with disabilities in the New Orleans community.
- Each student participates in a full one-year individual research project with required thesis, where they conduct independent research in a laboratory either in the Biomedical Engineering Department, or with affiliated laboratories;
- Students who maintain a cumulative 3.4 GPA during the second semester of the junior year and have a suitable project are eligible to enroll in our 5th year MS program. This program allows students to complete a thesis Masters degree in their fifth year, and the tuition for the 5th year of study is only 35% of Tulane's graduate tuition.
Team Design Projects
Team design projects enable Biomedical Engineering students to develop their knowledge and skill while they produce designs that benefit individuals with disability. After meeting their client, teams members evaluate the needs and specify design goals. The team members apply engineering principles to refine and construct a system to meet these goals.
Each spring the teams present their designs in a show to which our clients and the public are invited to attend. Projects that are beneficial and safe are given to our clients for their use. The projects presented at a recent show include a powered calf-raising attachment for a wheelchair, a challenge course for a school playground, and a communication trainer for profoundly autistic children.
Photos from a recent Team Design Show:
Undergraduate Research & Design Conference
One of the distinctive features of Tulane’s undergraduate program is the requirement that all students participate in year-long individual research project (in addition to the team design projects).
Although individual research projects, including an undergraduate thesis and public oral presentation, have been a part of Tulane's undergraduate curriculum in Biomedical Engineering since 1977, we have only recently made the conference abstracts available (since 2001). Beginning in 2003, we have hosted an Undergraduate Research and Design Conference, with an abstract booklet. The links below open PDF files with abstracts and conference proceedings.
Masters 4+1 Program
An integrated five-year Bachelor's - Master's program is available in the School of Science and Engineering where students pursue both the BSE (Bachelor of Science in Engineering) and MS (Master of Science) degrees. Management of the program - including specific eligibility requirements - is determined by the various Departments subject to the approval of the School of Science and Engineering.
Department of Biomedical Engineering BS-MS Program
The Department of Biomedical Engineering's five-year BS-MS program is designed to give students the opportunity to pursue research in a sub-field of interest in biomedical engineering (bioelectronics, biomaterials, bioelectricity, biomechanics, or cell and tissue engineering) and to gain significant research experience. Students fulfill all of the BS and MS degree requirements, with the exception that the yearlong undergraduate research project with thesis (required of all BMEN undergraduates) is extended to at least two years. The thesis then is counted as both an undergraduate Honor's thesis and the Master's thesis.
Initial Eligibility Requirements:
- Minimum 3.4 GPA at the conclusion of the 1st semester of junior year. For this GPA the student may include his or her transfer credits. Official transcripts do not always include transfer credits into the calculation of an individual's GPA and may not be a complete representation of the total GPA for courses taken towards an individual's degree.
- Identification of an advisor willing to supervise the student and a focused research plan, as indicated by a letter of intent to the instructor of Research and Professional Practice. This letter is needed by March 31st of the 3rd year. The letter of intent, co-signed by the advisor, should outline and briefly describe an appropriate research topic and project to be completed.
- Students not meeting the above requirements (individuals with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.4) may file a letter of intent along with a petition to the Department to participate in the five year program. This is due by March 31st of the 3rd year.
- Formal application to the school's graduate division is due in the Department by October 1st of 4th year. Initiate the process and request an application by filling out this form. The application must be complete and include a transcript, essay, and GRE scores (minimum combined total of Verbal and Quantitative of 1200). If the prospective MS thesis advisor is a member of the regular BMEN faculty, then the applicant only needs to submit a letter of support from his or her research advisor. Otherwise, three letters of recommendation are needed.
- An admission decision will be made by the Department by November 1st and the approved students will then be formally admitted to MS candidacy following the standard policies of the Graduate Division of the School of Science and Engineering.
- Students who have been approved for participation will then be required (or optional at advisor's recommendation) to drop BMEN 491 Research and Professional Practice II (without record) and add BMEN 493 Advanced Undergraduate Research in order to meet undergraduate degree requirements. This schedule change will allow 5th Year students to more effectively concentrate on their research projects in lieu of completing the course requirements of BMEN 491. The grade for BMEN 493 will be listed as In Progress (IP) until such time as the master's thesis is completed, whereupon the student's advisor and thesis committee will assign a grade necessary to fulfill bachelor's degree requirements.
Degrees: Participation in commencement ceremonies is governed by the standard policies of the School of Science and Engineering.
- Upon successful completion of all BSE and MS degree requirements, assuming the student has not already received the BSE degree, the student graduates at the end of the term in which the requirements have been fulfilled with both degrees (BSE and MS).
- If BSE requirements are not met (because the thesis is not complete), but if all undergraduate course requirements have been fulfilled, the student participates in commencement at the end of the 4th year by being recognized with a certificate of accomplishment, but does not receive a BSE degree.
- Once all of the requirements for the BSE degree have been met (including a completed undergraduate project thesis), the student can graduate with a BSE and continue to pursue their research project for the MS degree. (Note that this option abandons the timesaving consolidation of having a single thesis.)
Timing and Financial Support Considerations:
- Tuition during the 5th year is discounted by the School of Science and Engineering to be 35% of the undergraduate tuition. Note that scholarships and other financial aid will not normally be continued during the 5th year; financial need is most often met in the form of low-interest student loans.
- Students pursuing this program are strongly encouraged to spend the summer between the 4th and 5th years doing research on their project. Occasionally, summer funding may be available from the student's advisor or other sources of support.