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Duquesne to Inaugurate Biomedical Engineering Program

Posted on December 12, 2012

Drawing on strengths in professional programs and a liberal arts education, Duquesne University is poised to begin a biomedical engineering program.

The program would be the only engineering degree offered in Southwestern Pennsylvania at a top-tier Catholic research institution. Biomedical engineering is one of the fastest growing areas within the field and one of the most diverse.

The University is advertising for a director for the program and will start the first biomedical engineering classes in the Fall 2014 semester, said Dr. Alan W. Seadler, associate academic vice president for research.

"Biomedical engineering itself has close association with allied health fields, which are well-respected at Duquesne," Seadler said. "This new program dovetails nicely with our schools of nursing, pharmacy and health sciences, as well as with natural and environmental sciences.

"In addition, the field of engineering is recognizing the great value of an education delivered within a liberal arts atmosphere. Besides learning the hard skills expected of any engineer, our students will be provided the added advantage of a liberal arts background, which will enhance translational skills, communication and person-to-person interactions that are increasingly important in the field," said Seadler, who also serves as the Fritzky Chair in Biotechnology Leadership.

Because of courses already offered at Duquesne, the academic transition to this new program will be straightforward.

"By building on our institutional strengths and course offerings in biology, chemistry, math and physics, Duquesne will be able to offer a program that gives students interested in engineering access to the favorable faculty-student ratios, nurturing attitudes, research accessibility and urban advantages that the Duquesne campus provides," said Provost Ralph Pearson.

The program initially will not be affiliated with a particular school, but will report directly to the provost. Besides dovetailing with many existing courses and utilizing already-renovated lab areas, the biomedical engineering program supports the overall mission of Duquesne.

"This program fits well with the University purpose and mission of serving students," Seadler said. "Our emphasis in science, math, health and bioethics professions has been as applied fields. Biomedical engineering is an extension of that work, which is rooted in greater social justice for the vulnerable."

The University is in the midst of conducting a national search for the program's first director and anticipates that the program's leader will be on campus by Spring 2013.