The Texas Higher Education Coordination Board (THECB) officially approved master’s and doctoral degree programs in biomedical engineering at The University of Texas at El Paso on Thursday, July 25.
"This is great news for UTEP and reflects the quality of our faculty, students and facilities,” said Thomas Boland, Ph.D., professor of metallurgical and materials engineering, who will serve as director of the new degree programs. “I’m especially delighted for our students who will be awarded degrees that are highly sought by start-up companies and Fortune 500 employers in the biomedical technology, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industries.”
The curriculum, which Boland believes will attract students, will have a strong focus on biomedical engineering for low-resource settings and the developing world.
“We are very pleased to secure authorization to offer new UTEP degrees in biomedical engineering, a fast-growing field in which we’ve developed robust research capacity, and where there is strong student interest and demand for graduates,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio. “These new biomedical engineering degrees, and the research associated with them, will enhance UTEP’s reputation for preparing a highly competitive and increasingly Hispanic workforce, expand our contributions to the economy of the El Paso border region and beyond, and accelerate our progress toward Tier One.”
Faculty who are already involved in such research include Roger Gonzalez, founder of LIMBS International, a nonprofit organization that designs highly functional, ultra low-cost prosthetics for the “poorest of the poor.” Also on the faculty research team is Boland, whose research revolves around low-cost skin-cell printing through the use of widely affordable inkjet printers.
Prior to working at UTEP, the biomedical engineer served as an associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering at Clemson University and was considered instrumental in developing its bioengineering program.
“There is enormous interest in this program from students and from the community, and we are very excited to finally get this program off the ground,” said Richard Schoephoerster, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering. “Our biomedical engineering faculty and students are developing technology to diagnose and treat those afflicted with illness and bodily harm in low-resource settings, and our strong affiliations with such institutions as the Paul Foster School of Medicine and Medical Center of the Americas Foundation will ensure that the technology will be commercialized for use and that we are having a positive impact on the lives of patients.”
Students can expect the degrees to be offered as early as fall 2013.
The new biomedical engineering Ph.D. marks the 20th doctoral degree offered by the University.