“Back from BiomediKal to BiomediCal” A tale of BME By Saurabh Fatehpur

Biomedical students are spread around the world but very few find their field Biomedical Engineering satisfactory,
Today, I wish to present a story of Biomedical Engineer who is satisfied with is job and wants new Biomedical Engineers to join this field

About Saurabh Fatehpur

Post-graduate Biomedical Engineer from MANIPAL Institute of Technology (India) with his bachelors in Biomedical Engineering from Bundelkhand University, Jhansi, India.
Presently working in GE Healthcare as  Process Engineer, working in CT Scan module.
An active person on twitter & facebook
Article By Saurabh Fatehpur 

Two unconnected things occurred simultaneously – one was the mixed feelings to diversify my writings and other was invitation by Kush Tripathi to write for his Biomedikal blog. I promised myself to complete both but as I started, the lazy part of mine promptly suggested me to mix the two and present a single dish (whose taste you readers have to rate at the end of the article). Kush Tripathi, my pen friend, (in today’s term a Facebook or a Twitter friend), a post-graduate student in biomedical pinged me one fine evening and insisted to pen down my opinions on biomedical engineering. I thought the task would be quite easy as I am a post graduate in the same field with lots of personal desire to study the subject, but Kush added a trouble and challenged me to give the article an informal touch – a personal touch  rather than a technical write-up which is commonly available on a Google search. At that time I almost overlooked his expectations but as I started to cook the dish I realized its importance. Any article when written with personal experience adds readers.

For me biomedical engineering was (I stress on ‘was’) a compromise, an agreement between my desire to become doctor and my inability to do so. For most of the 12th passed students, it is more or less same and this I observed in my six years of student life of biomedical engineering.  However, the reason behind this inability varies a lot with students – lack of confidence to crack medical entrance, lack of money for proper coaching, unwillingness to waste a year or two in coaching, limited seats and long-time devotion for pursuing MBBS, etc. However, a majority told me that they have taken biomedical engineering because the seats were empty (I can stop myself to comment on this reason). Biomedical unlike bio-technology or bio-chemical or bio-engineering or even pharmacy is a clever way to escape typical chemistry and yet remain in medical vis-a-vis healthcare sector. I have also noticed that most of the biomedical students are not from biology background in their +2 and this remains a major concern for them at least in first two years of graduation.  Unlike pharmacy or biotechnology where knowledge on biology is mandatory, biomedical is a different just for a simple reason that the subject requires study of basic human anatomy and physiology during graduation, neither the knowledge of minute features of biology nor the typical cycles that one studies in +2 is required. However, based on one’s interest the way to the deeper sea is always open. Few of my classmates who don’t like biology had performed smartly in their results with a strong hold in the engineering. I remember two incidences during the first year of my graduation where my few classmates expressed their fear of biology to the head of department. She promptly replied “My responsibility is to make you as engineers not biology students”. She added that there is no engineering without applications and biomedical engineers are quite lucky as they apply engineering to human’s body not to human needs or commodities. None of us understood the relevance of these words and digested them as other boring lectures. (Engineers are quite tactful in this activity). The other incidence was exactly two and half years after the first when all of my classmates were worried about the major projects. She summoned all of us and prophetically said “Cut any one part of body as small as smallest bone of body or as complex as the least-known brain and apply whatever you have studied in engineering with only one point in mind that your defected engine has life in it or your subject is alive with five senses. Your main focus is life, while engineering is just a tool. Use your own desired tool to model life and the project is over. I challenge you all there is no simpler, yet technically better project is any other field of engineering other than biomedical”. When all of us returned back to our colleges with our projects done the difference between biology and biomedical was evident and the irrelevant fear for biology was mathematically destroyed.

Biomedical engineering as described by a head of department is marriage between engineers and doctors. This is an interesting story which I heard from him in a lecture. He told as in a common Indian marriage first the proposal for marriage goes. Similarly, biomedical engineers designed a digital stethoscope which was capable to present more sounds rather than just two as heard in common stethoscope. In actual there are more than two heart-sounds. But doctors rejected the proposal saying the extra sounds are irrelevant as they were unable to interpret them. And the proposal was rejected! This was a turning point and biomedical engineers worked hard and come with a proposal better than the last time. They developed a motorized wheel-chair for which the response was appreciable but yet some factor for an ever-lasting bondage was missing. Soon biomedical engineers came up with computerized tomography which was beyond all expectations as without cutting a body part the internal structure can be monitored. Doctors tested and fall in love with this technology and accepted the proposal! All recent developments which strengthen the bond between engineering and medical symbolize the romance between the two and strengthen the fact that mutual dependence still exists between them. These two jointly care and nourish their child – ‘The’ human being!

Biomedical Engineering, like our county is a mixture of religions. Hindus, the majority is equivalent to medical imaging (applicable only inIndia, as other fields of biomedical are under-developed in our country). Medical imaging is pure mathematics for smart and clear view of body parts, without dissecting them. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jews and other equally respectable and important religions are equivalent to design, development, manufacturing, servicing, quality-assurance and repair of medical equipment; rehabilitation engineering; biomaterial engineering; neural engineering; etc. Follow your faith of interest in the country and follow your field of interest in biomedical engineering. An atheist is free to touch all and change his role in post-graduation by choosing Instrumentation or electronic engineering. Scope of research is ever-growing in the field of biomedical engineering where sensors and transducers are needed to pick up the bio-signal. Permissible and bearable changes (incisions) can be done on human body to get better bio-signals. This attracts research with a challenge for minimally-invasive techniques without compromising the quality. It gives me a sense of pride to write down biomedical provides not only rehabilitation, physical, diagnostic, therapeutic, surgical support but also mental and brotherly support thereby reducing stress and pain to humans – both physically and mentally. (For interested readers, I requestKushto provide subjective evidences for my claims – Some work forKushis mandatory). A very interesting, ignored and under-developed (particularly inIndia) part of biomedical engineering is prostheses and orthotics which is as simple as providing a beam to support during the structuring of a building and as important as joy of a physically handicapped person at the moment he/she overcomes it. Think of the satisfaction biomedical engineering provides to the engineers for their contribution!

Before I handover this article toKush, I must answer to few questions on ultimate goals of biomedical engineering – packages and jobs.Indiais country with maximum software jobs in the world. Its software sector attracts a lot of engineering colleges to invite them for placements. These software companies are open to all branches, thereby recruiting most of the biomedical engineering students as well. Simple questions like why biomedical engineering students are recruited in software companies are obvious. These companies give trainings for few months to all students and recruit them as software engineers. The golden rule in software field is – rather than any programming language programming skills and logic are more important, which most of the engineering students have in abundance. Some biomedical engineers are quite smart to flip to medical software development and maintain their touch with biomedical. “None of the biomedical instrument can synchronize to human body without medical software” – one of my friend answered to recruiters of a prominent software company during campus interview.

Personally speaking, I have certain reservations and perceptions which irritate me when a biomedical graduate or a post-graduate have to go in software field. Here I blame to the campus placement cells of various colleges for their ignorance of biomedical engineering when I compare with available job opportunities after being well placed in a multinational medical equipment manufacturing company. Biomedical is a subject that requires maximum visit for trainings across the country because this versatile branch has a lot to learn and these sources are dispersed across the country. (Again, I requestKushto provide the required details). Utilize holidays and semester breaks for this. Go on short and long term trainings. For major project – work on a topic with side by side efforts to publish papers in reputed journals. A bad trend in some of the biomedical colleges is over-emphasis on medical imaging. Even, I have noticed that the projects other than medical imaging are under-rated by few professors (read as adamant professors). This should not under estimate biomedical engineers to loose versatility in their projects. Work hard to choose project. For placement opt biomedical companies which range from diagnostic equipment manufacturing to selling and repair of even surgical tools. Biomedical companies as they deal with human beings have to undergo scanning of regulatory bodies and hence have lot of openings in quality. Start studying quality tools during graduation though it may not be part of your curriculum. Sales and services in biomedical requires technical knowledge as engineers have to demonstrate it to wide range of people varying from doctors to patients which requires strong communication skills.

Though I am not a continuous visitor of Kush’s Biomedikal blog, my friends at certain times got many relevant information about openings or recent developments in this field from his blog. Keep visiting Kush’s blog for technical aspects. Though away from any subjective evidence, this article, penned down from inspirations by Kush, was an effort to give biomedikal a personal and informal touch to inspire more students to join biomedical engineering and to assist present biomedical engineering students to continue in the field with their doubts clarified. Listen to your heart to join biomedical engineering and read to Kush’s blog – biomedikal to update yourself. And hence I title this article as: BACK FROM BIOMEDIkAL TO BIOMEDIcAL . Keep questioning!

(Reach me at sau078@gmail.com )



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