Applied Bioengineering

May 24, 2005

Kettering's unique Bioengineering Applications concentration provides career opportunities for graduates that other schools can only hope to offer.

Accidents on Michigan highways and streets happen all the time. But the development of Kettering's Bioengineering Applications concentration in the Mechanical Engineering program may help lessen the impact of those accidents on occupants as more and more graduates choose to study Bioengineering at the University.

Kettering's approach to the study of Bioengineering Applications is unique when compared to other institutions that offer concentrations in this field. According to Dr. Patrick Atkinson, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of Orthopedic Research at McLaren Hospital in Flint, Kettering's Bioengineering Applications specialty is different for a number of reasons. For example, Kettering's Crash Test Safety Advisory Board is comprised of representatives from 31 different international companies such as Ford, Lear, General Motors, and Johnson Controls. These companies employ Kettering cooperative education students during their entire academic career and provide them with professional experience in the study of how vehicle accidents impact the human body. In addition, these partner companies provide insight into the kind of educational training necessary for engineers to succeed and make an impact in the field. Advisory board members emphasize that Kettering provide a strong fundamental Mechanical Engineering background through course and lab work with additional concentrations in Bioengineering. This approach insures that engineers have the requisite fundamental background in engineering necessary to serve as mechanical engineers and develop a thorough understanding regarding Bioengineering concepts.

"This approach gives Kettering a unique advantage because we have such a tight connection with those companies working in the bioengineering field," Atkinson explained. "Since our students work with these companies, the firms can provide insight into the kind of instruction students need to do well in the field. Other schools offer a straight bioengineering degree, which means that two four-year degrees (biology and engineering for example) must be taught within the confines of a single four-year degree. The net effect is that the biology and engineering are diluted. The bioengineering companies that hire our students have asked us to educate students by first providing them with strong engineering fundamentals and secondly provide a bioengineering 'flavor.' Once they have that, we can teach them the important concepts and theories associated with bioengineering."

Atkinson also said that Kettering's Bioengineering Applications specialty specifically addresses engineering challenges found in the biomedical equipment manufacturing field. The program works to deepen the knowledge base of ME students by providing theory and practical experiences in

  • biomaterials;
  • biochemistry;
  • biomechanics; and
  • bioengineering design.

One of Kettering's star graduates of the Mechanical Engineering program who specialized in Bioengineering Applications is Jennifer Grove of White Lake, Mich. Grove graduated in December 2004 and feels that the academic experience she gained at Kettering and her cooperative work opportunity at Autoliv in Auburn Hills, Mich., proved to be a "life-changing event."

Her cooperative work at Autoliv helped her "fall in love with the automotive safety industry. I'm proud to be a part of a company whose main objective is to save lives," she said.

Grove explained that Kettering's unique Bioengineering program provided her an education unattainable at other universities. Today, she works in Autoliv's Advanced Seatbelt Development group designing and engineering new seatbelt systems.

"I took classes such as Bioengineering Application, Occupant Protection and Accident Reconstruction that helped broaden my knowledge in the automotive occupant safety industry," she said.

She also noted that after fulfilling her graduation requirements and posting her resume on, she had companies calling her within four hours to set up interviews. In addition, when she interviewed with several well-known graduate schools regarding graduate studies, she said, "Kettering's name, along with the names of several of my professors, was enough to have the graduate schools call and inquire about when I was going to submit my application. That speaks for itself!"

Grove believes Kettering has a great deal to offer bright students, especially those interested in Bioengineering. "Kettering's Bioengineering Applications program helped prepare me for the career that I know is perfect for me," she said. "I know this program will also benefit future students just as much. It introduces students into a world that most don't know even exists."

Written by Gary J. Erwin
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