The Summer Biodesign Immersion Experience (BIE) has been a unique 8-week summer program for UC Berkeley juniors and seniors that prepares bioengineers to bridge engineering innovation and unmet clinical needs. After ten summers of incredible experiences, the BIE has had it’s last cohort and will sunset in 2021.
Designed as a limited-term internship program, BIE boosted our rising Bioengineering seniors during the summer prior to taking the Senior Engineering Design and Capstone Project course (BioE 192), and helped some frame their capstone experiences after graduation. Just as Berkeley BioE strives to improve human health through effective, affordable, and equitable biomedical technologies, the BIE and Capstone combination have equipped bioengineers with a thought framework, vocabulary, and experiential base that links engineering fundamentals to clinical practice.
While BioE 192 focuses on the total engineering design process, centered around an unmet clinical need and clinical partners, BIE provided rising seniors with the time and resources for full clinical immersion in diverse specialties across the SF Bay Area. A primary goal was to challenge our students to identify and define biomedical problems to achieve meaningful bioengineering solutions — defined by successful translation to intended end-users in the clinic, home, and developed as well as developing global communities. Nearly 10,000 unmet needs have been identified, with many shared at our Biodesign portal.
Another unique aspect of summer BIE aimed to foster a dialogue between engineers and clinicians during the summer clinical Immersion period. Face-to-face communication is important to support the critical communication skills necessary to empower generation and assessment of design ideas in a constantly changing arena. Through BIE and BioE 192, BioE seniors have engaged with more than 200 clinicians from UCSF and around the globe, leading to multiple FDA-approved products.
Supported by a completely funded NIH NIBIB R25 (R25EB013068) team-based bioengineering education grant in 2011, and competitively renewed in 2017, the BIE has fully financially supported nearly 100 UC Berkeley Bioengineering students with summer internship stipends. Perhaps most importantly, BIE provided first-person clinical experience for our newest bioengineers, tangibly igniting many to realize the purpose of being a bioengineer: to improve human lives.