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University of Minnesota Developed Interdisciplinary Graduate Minor in Neuroengineering


NSF-funded researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a novel interdisciplinary graduate minor curriculum in the burgeoning research field of neuroengineering. This curriculum, funded through the National Science Foundation IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) program, is motivated by the notion that future breakthroughs in the brain sciences will be made by engineers who understand the fundamental issues and principles of neuroscience, and by neuroscientists who are truly competent in engineering concepts and tools.

The University of Minnesota is one of the first universities in the country to offer a formal graduate program in the field of neuroengineering. Talented graduate students from any one of four departments (biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and neuroscience) are now able to pursue our minor degree program at the University of Minnesota. The Neuroengineering Minor, recently approved by the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota, was created to train graduate students to develop the skills to revolutionize technologies for interfacing with the brain and advance our understanding of the neuroscience processes that arise when we interface with and modulate the brain. Through this novel curriculum, our IGERT program can now lower the barriers to inter-disciplinary, collaborative education and research by training graduate students with diverse biological and quantitative backgrounds to possess expertise in multiple fields so that going forward they can serve as catalysts for the cross-fertilization of neuroscience with engineering sciences in academia, industry and government.

Graduate students pursuing the Neuroengineering Minor degree have the opportunity to learn from three new practicum-based courses, including 1) how to decode brain signals and interface with the brain, 2) how to modulate brain signals, and 3) how to optimize career development in neuroengineering, all of which are led by IGERT-affiliated faculty. Students are also provided with an opportunity to enroll in a hands-on systems neuroscience course with laboratory components in human neuroanatomy. Together, these courses form a challenging interdisciplinary education in neuroengineering for talented graduate students coming from diverse educational backgrounds. The courses also facilitate very close interactions with core participating faculty in our Center for Neuroengineering, which is a campus-wide research center of about two dozen faculty from various departments, including biomedical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, neuroscience, neurology, neurosurgery, psychology, psychiatry, and radiology. Advancing our ability to interact with the brain has broad, fundamental significance for the health and well being of the general population. It is estimated that 100 million U.S. citizens will have a significant brain-related disorder in their lives. There is a need to train the next generation of neuroengineering scientists to appreciate the important problems facing neuroscience research and clinical applications, and at the same time, understand the principles and technical challenges of engineering sciences. Such interdisciplinary training is essential for furthering the advancement in neuroscience research and for rapid translation of neuroengineering research into clinical applications, all of which will invariably lead to reduced suffering, improved quality of life, and lowered health care costs.

Address Goals

The developed interdisciplinary Neuroengineering Minor will facilitate transforming graduate education and training of the next generation of scientific and technical leaders in the emerging neuroengineering field. The novel neuroengineering minor will help create a world-class workforce in neuroengineering, serving well the national needs to continue US leadership in neuroengineering scientific research and neurotechnology industry.

The highly interdisciplinary neuroengineering graduate minor will also foster research by graduate students and affiliated faculty in this highly interdisciplinary field advancing the frontiers of knowledge cross a broad range of disciplines from engineering and physical sciences to basic and clinical neurosciences.