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Why Biomedical Engineering? What Our Students Say

Alastair During (1st year Masters student, 2016)

“As the first term of my BME Masters draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on how the course has exceeded all of my expectations. As someone who finds joy in increasing my sphere of knowledge, I have found that the content of the course is fulfilling a life-long desire for understanding of the human body, as well as simultaneously increasing my desire to learn more. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I am already finding more satisfaction than I did in my undergraduate mechanical engineering degree!”

“My desire to do a masters in BME is derived from a fascination of the motion of the human & animal body’s, and a desire to mimic then where required. Although not limited to prosthetic design, an ability to practice as an engineer who specialises in biomimicry has been my long term goal, and I have been thrilled to find that BME is indeed the best path to follow in order to achieve this.”

Christopher Herbert (1st year Masters student, 2016)

“For someone who is still relatively new to the engineering world, I was overwhelmed with excitement that there existed a field where I could apply my knowledge and skills gained from engineering into the field of medical science. My passion to help others and to make a direct contribution to improving the lives of individuals, provided me with the motivation to apply for a position in the Bio-Medical Engineering (BME) course. In terms of the different areas in the field of biomedical engineering, I have a keen interest in orthopaedic implants and prostheses, as I also believe that these areas would be the best focus points for the skills I gained in mechanical engineering.”

Edmund Wessels (1st year Masters student, 2016)

“The first few weeks of the Biomedical Engineering Program have been extremely insightful and enjoyable. Although I already had a dissertation topic from the start, it was incredibly interesting to hear about the different projects and fields of BME during the introduction of our course. This served to further expand my understanding of what is capable with biomedical engineering. My choice of minor dissertation and coursework was solidified with the start of the different courses. Being able to learn more about the anatomy of the body and the translation of its biomechanics has been especially interesting to me.”

“I also feel that being part of the medical device group is the correct decision after attending a presentation of the different projects being completed in the group. The focus placed on designing devices to be used immediately instead of purely for research purposes appeals greatly to how I feel about biomedical engineering.”

Jaco Verster (1st year Masters student, 2016)

“Coming from a few years of industry experience as a mechanical engineer I really thought that choosing to “specialize” in biomedical engineering would narrow down my field of interest. I was surprised to find that I went from a very large field that is mechanical engineering, through a seemingly small door (BME masters) and into another, maybe even larger, field. During orientation week I was somewhat overwhelmed with all the possibilities within BME. I realized that I would have to do some exploring to establish the direction I want to take into this new world. I came into this course with the idea of heading straight down the biomechanics road, but I saw new possibilities and wanted to explore further.”

“I found a suitable supervisor at the Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (ESSM). They are located in the Sport Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) in Newlands, an amazing facility that allows researchers from a wide variety of specialties to converge. What excites me about SSISA is the fact that one could easily walk into a meeting room where a physiotherapist, an orthopaedic surgeon and an engineer is sitting around the same table discussing a project. This cross-pollination of information and expertise creates an environment where research and innovation can flourish.”

Jerry Sam (1st year Masters student, 2016)

“During the first weeks of the undertaking of this Masters in Biomedical Engineering program, it has been quite an eye-opener to what Bio-medical Engineering is all about; from being exposed to the various topics offered by the staff members. Dissertation topics ranged from prosthetic design to pharmacology, from cell mechanobiology to bone modelling. The course work presented to us BME students have been of great value so far. It has been of great interest to learn about the functions of the human body in physiology and the musculoskeletal structure in anatomy.”

“I am happy that I have made the choice of going through the BME journey. I am individual who is keen to learn the things that help me to become more knowledgeable. The motivation of taking the BME program is use the engineering skill-set achieved from my undergraduate program from UCT and to combine it with my relentless fascination of the human body to help people.”

“It has also been a wonderful opportunity to meet with peers/colleagues who share a similar interest. This class presents an encouraging atmosphere of working together. I am certain of a prospective year ahead.”

Nicola Embling (1st year Masters student, 2016)

“The first six weeks of biomedical engineering have been very informative wherein I was exposed to a large range of prospective thesis topics. While all the presentations were fascinating and made me grateful to be studying in such a broad field, I felt most interested by the Pharmacology presentation. This subject plays to the strengths developed in my chemical engineering background - chemistry, mathematics and statistics. Dr Paolo Denti my supervisor has been fantastic in providing me with resources on this subject with possible courses to attend once my timetable frees up slightly in second semester. I have not received a topic as yet based on the availability of clinical trials but this will be rectified in the coming months.”

“In conclusion, biomedical engineering has exceeded all my expectations and I am thoroughly enjoying it thus far. In the coming months I intend to better my understanding in TB and to delve further into the subject of pharmacology.”

Ofentse Noko (1st year Masters student, 2016)

“As I embark on a new journey...“

“It’s now 7 years since I first discovered the field of Biomedical Engineering, and it is one that has gripped me ever since. Initially I thought that it dealt purely with the design and manufacturing of small and large scale medical devices. It has therefore been a pleasant surprise to see that there are a wide variety of areas to specialise in including biomechanics, health innovation, pharmacology and medical imaging just to name a few.”

“The programme has also provided me with the chance to evaluate the manner in which I tackle problems through the workshops linked with the Health Innovation & Design course. The core focus of the course has been to study and make use of the Design Thinking approach to problem solving. This is a skill set which helps to produce solutions which are human-centred and carry a better chance of being viable and sustainable, having a greater impact in the community.”

“Progress is being made with my Biomedical Engineering Design project of developing a Biometric Patient ID system. Dr Ariel Lashansky, the clinician who brought the project forward, is a great gentleman who is fascinated by the bioinformatics field and aiming to harness the technology available to help improve the service offering at the hospital which he is based. For me, it’s an opportunity to work with a like-minded individual who would also like to see a greater usage of digital technology in healthcare to improve the patient’s access to and experience of the clinical environment.”

“In this course we are expected to us the Stanford Biodesign process to complete our projects. The last couple of weeks have been spent going through the Needs Finding and Needs Screening stages, which have been useful in uncovering some interesting facts about the problem and the use of IT in the healthcare space. These stages have highlighted the importance of clearly defining the problem and the needs associated with it. Sub-standard work at this stage can have a detrimental effect on the project as the information gathered here gives the projects a mandate and a direction in which to proceed. The next stage focuses on ideating and evaluating different solutions which can be pursued. I aim to use Design Thinking to come up with human-centred ideas that have a high-impact potential.”

“Overall, my journey through the Biomedical Engineering programme at UCT has been very rewarding thus far. I look forward to what’s in store for the rest of the year.”

Safa Nagari (1st year Masters student, 2016)

“Deciding on undertaking a masters in Biomedical Engineering was something I pondered long and hard on toward the later part of last year and the beginning of this year. My main motivators for wanting to specialize in this field were firstly that I have always wanted to make a strong impact on people’s lives and secondly I have aimed to do this with the use of technology. Furthermore, I believe that the fusion of technology and the body is a field that will grow and advance immensely over the next 10 to 20 years.”

Scott Bruton (1st year Masters student, 2016)

“Coming from a Software Development and Mechatronical Engineering course I have always been passionate about designing and building a product that could potentially help the human race or make unfortunate people’s lives a bit better. Through interning at various biomedical facilities and research I found that UCT offered a Biomedical Engineering (BME) course. My main interest in biomedical engineering was the Electromyography course (EMG), where they would teach you to harness the electrical signals produced by your muscles and use them activate prosthetic limbs. Which I think it extremely awesome, and borderline cyborg! Therefore, at the end of last year I decided to follow this passion by applying for the UCT BME programme and thankful I was accepted.”

“I spent the first 3 weeks attending the courses, getting a feel for each subject, analyses the supervisors, and setting up meetings to solidify a topic. By the end of February, I had potential topics within the Medical imaging field, Sports Rehabilitation field, Orthopaedic Field, and Anatomy 3D Reconstruction Field. After meeting with the respective supervisors of each field, I decided to follow the closest field to my original cyborg dreams and choose the orthopaedic field to focus on.”

Werner Stoltsz (1st year Masters student, 2016)

“The first few weeks of Biomedical Engineering have been a real adventure in learning. I have found it incredibly rewarding to be exposed constantly to theory and ideas that I have had little or no previous exposure to in my undergraduate degree. The BME division seems to have created an atmosphere that really encourages a desire to learn: an atmosphere that values collaboration, feedback, and mentorship. Moreover, it is a privilege to be part of a relatively small class of BME/honours students, in that there so much opportunity for building meaningful relationships.”

“In our first two weeks, I was struck by the diversity of research in the division - from Statistical Shape Modeling, through to The Mechanics of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. My own interest is in medical imaging: particularly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). I come from a background in Electrical & Computer Engineering, the highlight of which was always signal processing and image processing. MRI can offer excellent insights into the structure and function of the brain. Having an interest in neuroscience and psychology, I find it to be the most exciting imaging modality. In the coursework, I have found the anatomy of the skull and the sections on the nervous system and embryology to be particularly relevant and useful to my research topic.”