Northern Illinois University is set to expand its engineering degree pathways by offering a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering (BME).
The Illinois Board of Higher Education approved the new degree program on May 1. It will officially launch in the fall of 2019.
NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology Dean Donald R. Peterson said the new program will help to meet the state’s growing workforce needs. Despite being in the nation’s third-largest metropolitan area, only a handful of Chicago-area universities offer degrees in the growing field of biomedical engineering, and a fair amount of Illinois’ BME hires are most likely coming from out of state.
“There is a growing need in the region in the fields of health care, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology,” Peterson said. “We will significantly add to the pool of high-quality graduates available to meet employment demands in the state and the region.”
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (IDCEO) has identified life sciences and biotechnology as one of six industries for targeted growth in the state.
“With the anticipated growth in this targeted industry, this program will support the state’s need for an advanced and locally trained work force that is primed to facilitate growth and primed to facilitate the innovation that will be needed to sustain Illinois as an industry leader,” Peterson said.
NIU currently offers a biomedical engineering emphasis in its Electrical Engineering Bachelor degree program. The new multidisciplinary BME program will partner with other campus departments, such as the Department of Biological Sciences, in order to ensure that students have opportunities to be well trained in emerging areas such as tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.