GV creates new biomedical & cybernetic engineering degrees


Olivia Fellows, News Writer

Grand Valley State University works hard to be an adaptive and advancing school, often creating new degrees to satisfy a changing job market and economy. As both of these things change, GVSU has created news degrees in biomedical science like Biomedical Engineering with electrical emphasis, which is for students who will apply the fundamentals of electrical engineering to solve problems related to healthcare. Projects like these include developing better monitoring systems and developing improved algorithms to detect tumors from medical images. 

Additionally, the Biomedical Engineering with mechanical emphasis degree lets students apply fundamentals of mechanical engineering to tackle problems in the medical field that deal with the development of better prosthetics and rehabilitative devices. 

Lastly, another degree will be in Biomedical Engineering with product design and manufacturing emphasis, in which students will study the performance and design of new and existing medical products, plan production and manage production facilities.

Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering Samhita Rhodes, who is also the Assistant Director in the school of Engineering at GVSU, said that the new degrees will “increase the breadth of the engineering curriculum and give our students more options.

“It will support the burgeoning medical device industry in west Michigan and will attract a more diverse population of students while addressing the needs of our industry stakeholders,” Rhodes said. “Typically, BME attracts more women students than other engineering disciplines – whereas 18 percent of all undergraduate engineers are women, that number hovers around 40 percent for BME so this aligns well with our program’s and the university’s strategic plan to foster diversity and inclusion.”

The engineering program at GVSU can be described as one-of-a-kind. According to The Right Place, west Michigan’s leading economic development organization, this area is home to the highest concentration of medical device manufacturers in the state and one of the fastest growing medical clusters in the Midwest. It is important to programs like these that companies invest in student success and supply the constant stream of innovative products that are based on sound research. These new undergraduate programs in BME at GVSU will educate a workforce to leverage this investment.

GVSU has also created several new opportunities within the cybernetic field, approving both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in cybersecurity, thanks to new president Philomena Mantella. The curriculum in both new cybersecurity programs will include network and software security, security policy, cyber-ethics, cryptography and cyber-forensics. The undergraduate major will also include reverse engineering and malware analysis, while the graduate program will contain advanced coverage of data analysis for cybersecurity. Both new programs will be offered starting in Fall 2019.

Rhodes expressed her excitement for the growth of the bioengineering and cybernetic programs, adding that “they both have a Master’s program in Biomedical Engineering and we have an undergraduate minor program in BME so we’ve had a number of graduates who are already working in the field.” 

 “It’s important to understand the biomechanics of the human body if you’re going to design devices to replace or repair it. Just as it’s important to understand your body’s electrical system if you’re going to design better defibrillators or monitoring systems,” Rhodes said. “My hopes for the students are that they can plug into and help build the medical device design and manufacturing community in west Michigan so along with Minneapolis we too could become a hub for medical innovations.”