A future in Medical Engineering

Find out why a postgraduate programme in Medical Engineering is right for you.

Aotearoa New Zealand is at the forefront of implementing new medical technologies. These include the next generation of pacemakers, advanced cochlear implants to help you hear again and biostickers, a sticker that sends patients' skin temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate to their GP’s. 

Unfortunately, Aotearoa does not have the number qualified professionals needed to invent, produce and safely trial these technologies. 

The University of Auckland Faculty of Engineering has therefore created three new postgraduate programmes to help. 

Luke Hallum, a senior lecturer with the University of Auckland’s Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, created the Master, Diploma, and Certificate in Medical Engineering to provide a path for people to enter the growing biotechnology and medical devices industries. 

Mr. Hallum is aware of the growing need and knows that “the biotech industry generally, and the medical device industry specifically, are both alive and well in New Zealand… [These] companies are interested in hiring people who want to build those industries.” 

Graduates can expect to find work with organisations like, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Cochlear Limited (Sydney based), medical technology start-ups or within academia.

Mr. Hallum explains that “the degrees encompass research at the intersection of engineering, medicine, and biology. Anyone who’s interested in the medical devices or biotech industry should take this programme.” 

The Master of Medical Engineering can also be taken part-time, so students who already work full-time in the healthcare or medical devices industries can upskill while supporting themselves.

“If you’re already in the industry, the Master of Medical Engineering helps you think more broadly about what happens in the field. This degree will help you think more rigorously about problems that may come up in your work.”

This flexibility made the Master of Medical Engineering perfect for Julia He, who currently works at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare in a marketing role. She wanted to gain new knowledge to advance her career while still being able to work. 

Ms. He recognizes “[the importance] in the medical device industry, to be in sync with the regulatory requirements, therefore going back to university to take the Master of Medical Engineering enabled me to get the new knowledge I need to continue in this career.”

Ms. He took the Masters degree part-time while continuing to work at Fisher & Paykel and recognized the upskilling in her marketing ability due to the classes. 

She saw the benefits “[that when] working in marketing, we have to work heavily with product development divisions and our clinical teams. Learning about journal articles, polymers and crystalline structures helped me engage with customers, especially experienced clinicians.”

David Edwards, a principal operations engineer at Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, also chose to take the Master of Medical Engineering while working full-time. He believes the “the key [to success], really, is just good time management… You need to be passionate about medical devices, be hungry for knowledge, and you need to be ready to learn. You need to commit to just getting stuck into it.”

Mr. Edwards chose the degree because of its broad subject range and rigour. “The University of Auckland is known for its top-quality Engineering programmes. I wanted the level of complexity that only a masters course could offer me.” 

Ms. He and Mr. Edwards both loved the hands-on courses, considering them to be a highlight of the programme. 

One of the programmes core courses is ENGGEN 770: Medical Device and Technology Development. In this course students are instructed to design and market a medical device within a team. The course covers the whole product lifecycle, from commercialisation to design concept, validation verification, and regulatory requirements with case studies. 

Ms. He noted that the interactivity within the course was essential to her learning. “Our team went out there, did the market research, looked at journal articles, created systematic reviews, and found the best concept to promote and launch our final product. The course gave us a very hands-on experience,”

Mr. Edwards agreed, “ENGGEN 770 gives you a better perspective from the development side. It’s a great paper for anyone who’s developing or looking to develop medical devices.”

Ultimately, students say the course was beneficial to their careers. Ms. He is gravitating towards academia, and Mr. Edwards is currently optimising the results of one of his University of Auckland research projects at Fisher & Paykel. They both agree the programme is challenging but worth it. 

Take the first step towards your future and apply for the Master of Medical Engineering today.