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VIDEO: Isabella Ritz

I thought that by obtaining a biomedical engineering minor, I could gain valuable experience and also create a unique profile for myself.

Biomedical Engineering - Student

Biomedical engineering (BME) is one of the hottest fields for potential engineers, which is why the University of Kentucky College of Engineering created a specialized undergraduate minor in BME in 2015. The minor enables undergraduate students to take graduate-level BME courses, which appealed to Isabella Ritz, a junior from Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.

“I thought that by obtaining a biomedical engineering minor, I could gain valuable experience and also create a unique profile for myself.”

As a materials engineering student, Isabella is discovering interesting ways BME complements her major.

“Materials engineering and biomedical engineering work together in the area of implantable technology. There are a lot of factors you don’t initially realize can create complications with innovation. But any biomaterial you put into a body has to be biocompatible, so we do a lot of fine-tuning.”

The BME minor allows students to choose classes tailored to their interests. In addition, students can apply six of the required 18 hours to research, which appealed to Isabella.

“I worked in the biomaterials lab last year, and it was a great fit. I was the only undergraduate student working in it, which was great because I got to be mentored by graduate and postdoctoral students.”

Isabella’s research experience also paid off when it came to finding a summer internship. She spent the 2018 summer working for Bluegrass Advanced Materials (BAM), a biotechnology company led by chemical engineering professors Tom Dziubla and Zach Hilt. Having just finished her first semester of research for the BME minor, Isabella had no problem getting up to speed for BAM. Both experiences have helped her envision future possibilities.

“I think I would like to go to graduate school in either materials engineering or biomedical engineering and eventually do R&D for a biomedical device company.” 

For now, Isabella plans to spend the next year honing her skills in the laboratory and continue working toward her degree and the BME minor.

“I highly recommend the biomedical engineering minor. It allows you to specialize, which gives you an added edge.”