The Medical Engineering Program: Building Machines for Medicine of Tomorrow

The Medical Engineering program brings technology and medicine together. The program is popular with both sexes as the proportion of women in the program is 51%.

The Medical Engineering program
The Medical Engineering program

Doctors cannot do much without the appropriate equipment and devices. Students enrolled in the Medical Engineering degree program at the JKU are learning to design and build medical equipment of the future. Together with their classmates, Stephanie Schild and Daniel Schafelner have already independently completed a project.

What have you built, why, and just how does it work?

We chose an electromyography project aimed at controlling a servo-motor using muscle power, which is a basic building block in the field of prosthetics. In order to do this, we not only had to design a circuit, but also create the required circuit board and put it together accordingly. We also had to write a program that would transform the muscle’s movement potential so that the small motor would move.

How difficult is the program?

Every program contains classes considered easier and classes considered more difficult. Medical engineers, however, have to acquire technical expertise as well as learn basic medicine in order to create a smooth transition between people and machines. The individual classes are not the hard part; the hard part is that half of the program focuses on mechatronics and the other half is basic medicine. We have to study both at the same time. While the medical classes were challenging during the first semester, during the second semester, the engineering classes were time-consuming due to the hands-on work. Students should not underestimate the time factor and that in addition to the hands-on exercises, the examinations require a lot of time.

How is the student-faculty ratio and contact with professors?

If we have problems with our project or homework assignments, we can always ask our professors or senior mechatronics engineers for help. We get the feeling that - especially in our program - the professors really want us to pass our exams and help. However, students need to take advantage of the help and assistance that is offered.

What is your advice to first-year students?

Party a lot because you need the change of pace to balance everything out! But seriously: stick with it. Although it may seem very complicated at first - especially for high school graduates who do not have an engineering background as well as for many beginners – the required classes explain everything from the ground up. And try not to do too much at once! Check one exam off after the other; the exams are not running away anywhere and finishing the program in the allocated time period is hardly possible in a new, 2-subject degree program like ours, especially if you want to enjoy your college years as well.

Do not underestimate the scope of classes and hands-on assignments but it can be done. Study groups and communicating with other classmates helps a lot; it isn’t as fun just by yourself.

About the Students

Stephanie Schild: age 20, from Vienna / Hobbies: Meeting up with friends, traveling, sports / is studying medical engineering because: "I want to help top athletes who need prostheses or something similar to continue their career using the right products."

Daniel Schafelner: age 22, from Linz / Hobbies: meeting up with friends, playing video games, partying / is studying medical engineering because: "I found an old piece of paper titled "when I grow up I want to be a …" and I had written medical technician. I guess this is what I have always wanted to do.

NEWS 31.08.2020