According to School of Engineering Dean Daniel Pitt, the most frequently asked question of the engineering school at student recruitment fairs across the country is, “Do you have a program in bioengineering?” Finally, he can answer that with a resounding “Yes!” The engineering school recently created a new concentration in bioengineering within the general engineering major, as well as a new biomedical engineering minor.
“The future of engineering over the coming decades will be dominated by, or at least have a significant proportion of work in, the bioengineering areas,” Pitt commented.
The new program is likely to draw students to the University who previously might not have chosen SCU if it had no bioengineering program. “If you look at the national trends, the bioengineering programs are seeing growth where many other departments are seeing flat enrollment or declining enrollments,” said Tim Hight, department chair of mechanical engineering and the current director of the bioengineering program. The new degree option is likely to increase the number of women within the engineering department, as well. “Traditionally, engineering has low female enrollment in most disciplines other than bioengineering, which has the highest level of female students of any engineering major across the country,” Hight said.
Excitement about the program has already begun to build on campus among faculty members as well as students. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm throughout engineering and the sciences,” Pitt said. “And now I’m starting to hear a buzz on campus from students who want to sign up.”
Indeed, many students have already enrolled in the program’s first offering this spring, Introduction to Bioengineering.
“Like many of our programs, it will have a very strong element of cooperation with Silicon Valley,” Pitt said, such as biomedical device companies and local medical centers. “And it will also have the Santa Clara University flavor, as well, with ethics being an important part of it.”