ECE for Pre-Med...the best undergraduate degree for future physicians!
Northeastern ECE and Pre-Med
If you are thinking about going to medical school, you should be thinking about majoring in electrical engineering. Why? ECE provides the best background in open-ended problem solving and fundamental technical skills for doctors. Furthermore, ECE-based technology is an integral part of medical care today, and an understanding of the capabilities and limitations of this technology will give you not only an advantage in the medical school application process, but in your practice as a physician or medical researcher as well. And your career options with a Northeastern ECE degree won't be limited to medical school—should you decide to postpone your medical school entry or change your mind mid-stream, your skills and education will give you the option to pursue a highly paid career as an engineer.
ECE: Technical Skills with Practical Applications
ECE and medicine complement each other seamlessly. Examples of fundamental technical skills you will learn—and their direct applications to medicine—include:
- Artificial limbs and prostheses interact with the body through its sophisticated control system, which is modeled and experimented with through the fundamental electrical engineering tools of dynamical control and feedback (EECE 5580: "Control System Theory" and EECE 5610: "Digital Control Systems")
- Signals are transmitted through the body using our nervous system, in which both large-scale and small-scale electrical phenomena trigger events and carry messages: for example, retinal cells are effectively amplifiers, and can be modeled using analog circuitry (EECE 2150: "Circuits and Signals: Biomedical Applications")
- Inter-cell communication through protein exchange has been explained through the mathematics of communication systems (EECE 4572: "Communication Systems")
- Nanotechnology is at the leading edge of custom drug delivery (ENGR 4608: "Nanotechnology in Engineering")
Additionally, the field of medicine is fully assisted by ECE-based technology in nearly all instrumentation and patient interfaces beyond the stethoscope:
- Advanced surgical techniques using lasers and remote cameras are optics-driven, as are new sensing modalities (EECE 4646: "Optics for Engineers," EECE 5648: "Biomedical Optics")
- Medical imaging modalities including CT, MRI, digital radiographs, and PET scans rely on noise reduction and sophisticated image and signal processing (EECE 3468: "Noise and Stochastic Processing," EECE 5664: "Biomedical Signal Processing")
Co-ops are an integral component of the Northeastern ECE curriculum and provide students with the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge. While an ECE student, you gain a background in the above topics and more while developing your open-ended problem solving skills and with the opportunity for experiential learning through our co-op program. Co-op employment at one of the many biomedical device manufacturers, hospitals, or medical schools in which we regularly place our undergraduates will provide you not only with the opportunity to practice your EE and problem-solving skills, but also to understand current medical technology, both achievements and ongoing challenges. Taking this experience with you to medical school will provide you with an incredible perspective on the available technology that you'll be using, its limitations, and where your knowledge as an electrical or computer engineer and doctor can best help your patients.
Recent co-op employers of Northeastern ECE students have included:
- Abbot Bioresearch Center
- Abbott Bioresearch Center
- AS&E (American Science & Engineering)
- Analogic Corporation
- Basis Science (Intel)
- Caliper Life Sciences
- Corindus Vascular Robotics
- Deka Meducal
- Draeger Medical
- Harvard Medical School
- Harvard Apparatus
- Instrumentation Laboratories
- Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary-Schepens Eye Institute
- Massachusetts General Hospital
- Nova Biomedical
- NX Stage Medical
- Philips Healthcare
- Philips Medical Research
- Proven Process Medical Devices
- Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Materials
The ECE curriculum requires 3 science courses, 2 humanities/social sciences courses and 2 english/writing courses, 5 math courses, and allows for 9 technical electives with 4 being ECE-specific and 5 being
general. In this context, meeting Northeastern's premed curriculum within an ECE major is straightforward. Students with no advanced placement credit may need to take an additional 3-4 courses beyond those required for an ECE undergraduate degree; students entering with AP can reduce this to three or fewer (even zero), depending on the specific AP credit.
Majoring in ECE while a pre-med student is straightforward as there is considerable overlap between ECE major requirements and pre-med preparation. Most pre-med courses are fulfilled by ECE degree requirements, and fulfilling the remaining ECE Tech Electives not covered by the basic pre-med requirements will serve to boost your technical skills and help you stand out from the crowd.
Below is a representative mapping between Northeastern's PreHealth Advising Program's Academic Preparation for PreHealth and ECE degree requirements. Our curricula are regularly updated and this should be taken as a representative snapshot and not as a definitive listing of requirements and courses.
Students enrolled in ECE will determine an appropriate set of courses and schedule based upon consultation with their ECE Academic Advisor and the PreHealth Advising Program. For a sample ECE for pre-med curriculum plan, please contact Ellen Zierk in 410 Dana.