Gaining Momentum, Duquesne's BME Program Graduates First Class

With demand increasing and the options for biomedical engineers growing, Duquesne University’s Biomedical Engineering (BME) program will graduate its first class of 18 students on May 12.

The class represents an important hallmark for the program, which has a total enrollment of more than 100 students and receives about 300 applications annually for its 35 spots. This year’s graduating class is also 60 percent female, about three times the national average for engineering programs.

As the need for biomedical engineers continues to increase, Duquesne’s new graduates find their options are wide open, ranging from pursing advanced degrees and teaching opportunities to conducting research and developing new medical devices and technology that improve lives.

“I’d like to work with patients to help them enhance their quality of life and also work with companies to develop new medical devices,” said BME graduate Cecelia Lee-Hauser, who will begin working on her master’s degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics at the University of Pittsburgh. “This degree really offers me the best of both worlds.”

Biomedical engineering hits a sweet spot for Duquesne, given the University’s strengths in the health sciences and nursing, said program director Dr. John Viator.

“The beauty of starting a new program is that we implement new strategies and approaches from our faculty, staff and students, allowing us to discover new ways to learn and grow as engineers,” he said. “That has fostered collaboration among faculty and students, who have had the opportunity to jump into research projects even as freshmen.”

For example, BME graduate Marc Hazur has worked as a research assistant on a National Institutes of Health grant that Viator received to detect melanoma cells. After graduation, Hazur will continue to work at Daedalus, Inc., an engineering design firm in Shadyside.

As part of her senior capstone project, Jacqueline Matz created a therapeutic floor mat for children with low motor function due to conditions such as cerebral palsy. The mat encourages children to move by creating a path where they push a button that lights up, and then move on to the next button. Matz plans to attend Northeastern University to earn a doctorate degree in bioengineering and eventually hopes to go into teaching.

Connor Evans received the BME program’s first General Excellence Award, which is given to a graduating student who has shown exemplary academic achievement, as well as involvement on campus and in the community. He said the collaboration between faculty and students plays a key role in setting Duquesne’s program apart from other universities.

“The program is new so you receive more individualized attention than you might find at a bigger school,” said Evans, who will be attending Notre Dame to earn a doctorate in mechanical engineering with a biomedical engineering research focus. “From the beginning, professors have asked for input from students so we’ve played a part in helping to create the program for future classes. It’s exciting because we are setting a precedent for the program.”

The BME diploma ceremony will be held at noon on Saturday, May 12 in the Union Ballroom at Duquesne. Media interested in attending the event should contact Ken Walters at 412.396.1154 or 412.417.8156.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

It's time for bigger goals
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