My name is Gregory Meyer, and in 2006, I graduated from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering (BME). My parents were the main influence behind my decision to pursue a BME degree. My father is a mechanical engineer, while my mother is a doctor. Being a biomedical engineer just seemed like a natural combination of the mechanical and electrical engineering that my Dad did, and the health care work that my mother practiced.
How my undergraduate experiences shaped my career decisions
Like with many other biomedical engineering students, I often wondered whether or not to pursue a future in medicine. Several factors during my time as an undergraduate at Georgia Tech helped me make this important decision. One of the most important experiences I had that helped me make this decision was when I shadowed surgeons and doctors in my hometown, Rochester, New York. This experience helped me realize that although I liked what they did, being a doctor wasn’t a good fit for me. This experience also helped me decide which breadth track to pursue. I realized I was more interested in focusing on the technological aspects of medicine and that I wanted to pursue a career in industry rather than to go to medical school.
The BME department’s advisors and professors also helped me think about what I wanted to achieve in my life and how I’d get there. My first class in the major (BMED 1300) helped me test whether BME was the career for me. The course helped me explore the possibilities that biomedical engineering offered, and the professor who directed the course helped me learn a lot about the big picture aspect of biomedical engineering and the steps I needed to take to obtain my degree. The instructor for our design courses showed me how to make the most out of my BME degree and gave me inspiration on what to do with my ideas. The first design course, BMED 2300, gave me my first taste of biomedical devices and how to use software, such as solidworks, to develop 3D models of these devices. That class was pivotal to me in that it showed me that I wanted to design and build medical devices rather than work in a lab. Later, as a senior, I took the capstone design course (BMED 4601). This course, in my opinion, is one of the most difficult in the BME major. I had to learn how to work productively with a team, and to overcome the many challenges of working in a group on a demanding project. In addition to the required courses for the BME major, I also enjoyed my depth elective courses, particularly those that taught me how to design circuits. These classes helped me compare electrical and computer engineering to biomedical engineering and helped me better understand the overall process of how medical devices are designed.
What my first BME jobs were like
My first job after I graduated was with Facet Technologies, a device manufacturing company. Facet mainly focuses on making lancets and meters for diabetics and working with their OEM manufacturers out of McDonough, Georgia. After some time working at Facet Technologies, my senior design partner notified me that Guided Therapeutics, a blossoming startup company based in Georgia, was hiring. One thing led to another and soon thereafter I was offered a job in their research and development (R&D) department. This shows that networking with friends, in addition to the mentorship that I received and the courses that I took, was one of the most crucial things I did during my time at Tech.
At Guided Therapeutics, I developed product designs and sent them to other engineers for further development. As a part of the product research and development team, I participate in a wide range of activities, from going to the lab to do tests and validations to working on designing prototypes. I also carry out tasks like documentation and contacting vendors, in addition to my actual design work. Because BME is such a new field, most BME employees are young, and the older employees have degrees in chemistry, computer science, mechanical engineering, and so on. Working in a small business with diverse thinkers really helped me be able to see problems from multiple perspectives. The small work environment can be more intimate and therefore more intimidating, but my colleagues really do want me to succeed. The entire company’s focus is related to cancer diagnostics with an emphasis on spectroscopy. Currently, I’m working on a cancer detection device that uses microprobes and microporation to collect tissue samples. In addition, I review grant opportunities and go to conferences.
Thinking about the future
I’ve found the field of BME to be very rewarding, and I hope to continue working in the BME industry. My interests have changed slightly from strictly lab work to include commercialization and branding as well. In the future, I wish to become the vice president or CEO of a BME research lab or even work with medical robotics, such as the Da Vinci surgical system.
For all aspiring biomedical engineers, I would recommend learning how to be an effective team member and practicing technical writing.
For all aspiring biomedical engineers, I would recommend learning how to be an effective team member and practicing technical writing. I see BME as the cornerstone of the sciences, with the abundance of new jobs out there for BME professionals that apply the knowledge and skills taught by the BME program at Tech. Biomedical engineering is a wide field with countless possibilities and opportunities, and I’m only one example of how studying biomedical engineering has helped shaped a career and future interests. From my story, I hope that upcoming biomedical engineers can get a preview of what the biomedical engineering industry is like and better understand what it means to truly be a biomedical engineer.