College of Engineering launches bioengineering master’s program

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The UC Berkeley College of Engineering announced on Jan. 24 the opening of the campus’s first bioengineering master’s program for 2013-14.

The bioengineering program is a concentration within the College of Engineering’s Master of Engineering program. The degree emphasizes business experience in addition to the technical skills that usually make up an engineering degree. The nine-month program expects to admit between 10 and 15 students for the 2013-14 academic year.

“It’s probably the most tightly integrated tech business program that I’m aware of,” said Lee Fleming, faculty director of the Coleman Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership, which manages the master’s program. “I did the comparative degree at Stanford, and there’s nowhere near the integration or experience in that program as there is here.”

Candidates receive advanced training in bioengineering as well as in leadership and project development skills. Students in the program will also take core classes with degree candidates from the six other concentrations offered through the master’s of engineering program. The entire program expects approximately 150 students for the fall semester.

“There will be a number of classes where the entire cohort will be working together,” said Terry Johnson, a lecturer in the department of engineering and an adviser for the new bioengineering degree. “There’s a lot of opportunity for bioengineering — which is already an interdisciplinary field — to work with other engineers on problems.”

According to Johnson, the new program is also the first graduate bioengineering degree conferred solely by the campus. The Graduate Program in Bioengineering is offered jointly by UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco but awards a doctorate instead of a master’s degree.

The Fung Institute has managed the master’s of engineering degree since 2010, when it incorporated pre-existing master’s programs into one engineering program with five concentrations. Following the incorporation of the civil and environmental engineering concentration, the bioengineering component is the final engineering department to be represented in the master’s of engineering program.

The master’s of engineering degree has already seen marked success since its founding. Many graduates have found employment that utilizes the business and leadership skills from the program.

“Many of them are going into engineering in the Bay Area,” said Beth Hoch, assistant director of academic affairs for the program. “They are working at Zynga, for McKinsey (and) a couple of students are working on startups with MBA students they met in classes here.”

The Fung Institute will also be rolling out a part-time master’s of engineering program for fall 2013. The part-time program caters to students who are unable to complete the full-time requirements of the original degree but can attend part-time classes for a duration of two to four years.

Jacob Brown is the lead higher education reporter. Contact him at [email protected].