BME Career Exploration: Examining Students' Career Perspectives

Cassandra Sue Ellen Woodcock, Annie An Meng Wang, Aileen Huang-Saad, Shanna R. Daly, Lisa R. Lattuca

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Historically, biomedical engineering (BME) undergraduate programs have been designed to expose students to the broad spectrum of knowledge required to adequately address problems in engineering and medicine. While students' resultant knowledge base has allowed for flexibility in the careers that undergraduate biomedical engineers can enter, many BME students also believe that the broad curriculum may lead employers to perceive them as underprepared to enter industry positions upon graduation. Recent studies have validated this concern, as BME students report fewer co-op and industry internship placements pre-graduation, enter the job market with fewer available jobs seeking BME graduates, and receive lower average annual salaries than other engineering disciplines. Despite the challenges, students continue to pursue and persist through BME undergraduate degrees. If the perception is that their options are limited in industry, it is important to identify and understand the careers that BME students consider pursuing. To explore what BME students perceived as possible for a career upon graduation, this study examined changes in BME students' career perceptions over the course of a year of their undergraduate program. Fourteen (14) undergraduate BME students were interviewed three times over the course of their third year at a large R1, public university. A qualitative analysis identified patterns of change at the individual and group levels. Findings indicated that most participants' initial view of possible careers in the field was narrow. Over the course of the study, some participants changed their view of career possibilities; for those who had not yet decided on a career, concrete exposures to possible BME careers contributed to more optimistic career outlooks. Suggestions for future research to more broadly understand BME students' career exploration are also presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Externally publishedYes
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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