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UNT opens biomedical engineering building

The innovative facility and cutting-edge equipment give students and faculty a space that inspires learning, research and collaboration

Dr. Vijay Vaidyanathan (right) with doctoral student Chandani Chitrakar

Vijay Vaidyanathan (right) mentors biomedical engineering doctoral student Chandani Chitrakar.

Five years ago, UNT took a strategic risk when it added a new biomedical engineering program to serve a growing need in educating tomorrow’s leaders in this rapidly changing field. The program has focused on offering diverse educational tracks and unique degree plans to give graduates an edge in the highly technical workplace.

The risk is paying off.

Today, biomedical engineering is one of UNT’s fastest-growing programs, with an incoming class more than five times the size of its first in 2014. More than 90 percent of the first graduating class is employed in the biomedical engineering field or enrolled in graduate school. Faculty recruited for the program engage in cutting-edge research that could change the way medical research is conducted.

“We are proud of our growth and are excited for our community to see how far we’ve come and what we are accomplishing,” says Vijay Vaidyanathan, founding chair of the biomedical engineering department in UNT’s College of Engineering. “We are attracting talented faculty and students who in turn expand research and curriculum opportunities. We look forward to preparing our growing number of graduates to be at the forefront of innovation and discovery.” 

To meet the explosive growth, this summer UNT opened a new $12.6 million biomedical engineering building. Four new, full-time faculty will be teaching classes this fall, bringing with them a range of expertise from neuroelectronics to electrophysiology.

Kiana Poole

Biomedical engineering student Kiana Poole delves inside the human body with the help of a virtual dissection table.

The new building features glass-walled, open-concept labs and classrooms that create a transparent and collaborative environment for research and learning. The 26,250-square-foot building, which opened for classes Aug. 26, is located on UNT’s Discovery Park campus and provides faculty and students with innovative classrooms, research labs, facilities for microscopy, cell culture and optics, as well as teaching labs and a senior design lab.

About the Program

The biomedical engineering program provides students opportunities to specialize in audiology, public health, music performance health, business management, computer science and biology.

Undergraduate students are able to pursue two minors in addition to their major in biomedical engineering, while master’s students can elect to pursue both a master’s in biomedical engineering and an M.B.A. or other second master’s degree in just two years. They also can earn a certificate in health services management from the UNT Health Science Center as part of their coursework.

Students interested in a Ph.D. can pursue electrical engineering, mechanical and energy engineering, or materials science and engineering with a concentration in biomedical engineering.

The new labs feature high-tech instruments like a bio 3D printer, which can print cells that mimic human tissue, and a 3D virtual dissection table that allows students to delve inside the human body without a scalpel. Inside research labs, faculty are investigating exoskeleton technology that may someday help people with limited mobility and developing human organ chips that could reduce the use of animals in medical research and significantly shorten clinical trials; nanotechnology and optics to diagnose cancer; and biopolymers and flexible bioelectronics that may help doctors deliver medications and manage illnesses.

“We are committed to continued growth to provide our students with a diverse, state-of-the-art education that allows them to find jobs not only in biomedical engineering, but in other industries as well,” Vaidyanathan says. “This building is designed to inspire and encourage learning and new discovery through research and collaboration.”

The open-concept labs are intentionally designed to foster collaboration among researchers, and the senior design lab provides a dedicated space for senior design projects, a key component of the undergraduate experience. Vaidyanathan emphasizes the importance of providing students with opportunities to integrate their learning and work in teams. This type of experience is what leads employers to UNT in their search for graduates who possess the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the field.

“Senior design is one of the most important things in an undergraduate student’s curriculum because it puts everything together,” Vaidyanathan says. “For that, you need collaborative space where students can get together.”