When studying mechanical engineering, you may take an interest in building certain types of equipment.
In particular, you may wish to build prosthetics or artificial limbs that function as the original, natural body part.
Mechanical engineers are excellent for the job as they can easily develop the expertise and experience necessary for prosthetics and other medical devices.
This short guide will teach you about designing, building, and working with prosthetics.
Mechanical engineers have an excellent foundation to move forward in designing or building prosthetics.
As a mechanical engineer, you can research and evaluate materials, check and optimize responses, and ensure proper functioning and control of prosthetics.
If you specialize in biomedical engineering, you will learn about anatomy and bodily systems and how they interact with prosthetic devices.
With this knowledge, you can design effective prosthetics, build innovative devices, test how prosthetics interact with the human body, and ensure optimal functioning and safety, among other exciting, specialized tasks.
Since the main goal of prosthetic creation is to mimic the natural limb completely, having biomedical concentration allows you to accomplish more in the prosthetic field.
Many mechanical engineers work for medical device companies and biotech firms.
As a mechanical engineer working on medical devices, you may have any of the following responsibilities:
- Design and develop mechanical components
- Design and write device assembly
- Research anatomy, bodily systems, device materials, or parts
- Analyze and test existing mechanical systems
- Improve existing mechanical systems
- Write testing methods
- Perform quality assurance
- Oversee 3-D printing
- Assemble prototypes
- Develop solutions to mechanical problems
- Maintain and repair mechanical systems
- Ensure mechanical systems and components meet regulation
You will have the opportunity to work on various devices, including medical imaging machines, medical lasers, surgical lights, monitors, ventilators, and sterilizers.
Learn more: Do Mechanical Engineers Make Phones?
A prosthetist is a healthcare worker who builds and fits prosthetics for individuals who do not have limbs due to disability, injury, trauma, or amputation.
Their work involves assessing patients, designing a prosthesis that meets their needs and measurements, and ensuring the prosthesis works optimally for the patient.
A prosthetist is an excellent career, especially if it is your dream to work in the healthcare field and help improve other people’s lives.
To become a prosthetist, you must earn a Master’s degree, obtain special certification, and complete residency.
The average annual salary is $75,440, although you have the potential to earn more if you have a higher degree (Ph.D.), exemplary certifications, and experience.
There are also plenty of job opportunities, and the government expects the job outlook to increase by 18% by 2030.
Biomedical engineers are the primary engineers to work on prosthetics.
In biomedical programs, students learn crucial elements from engineering, physical science, and computer science as applied to medicine and health care.
In their final years of study and during their graduate degree, they can concentrate on a specific theme within the biomedical industry, whether this is medical devices and sensors, modeling and AI, imaging, molecules, and materials, or living systems.
Those who concentrate on medical devices or molecules and materials develop knowledge specific to prosthetic design and development.
Graduates can then move on to secure a career in research, design, development, assessment, optimization, or maintenance and repair of prosthetics.
If you wish to design prosthetics, you can become a biomedical engineer or a prosthetist.
These are two different career paths, demanding different educational backgrounds.
To become a biomedical engineer, you can follow these steps:
- Complete a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, health science, or biomedical engineering. You can also pursue a double major; for example, you can complete mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering at some universities.
- Earn a master’s degree in biomedical engineering or biomechanical engineering.
- Gain experience with an internship or volunteer position.
- Obtain a Professional Engineering license from your state board.
To become a prosthetist, you need to:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in biology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, physics, and math.
- Complete a master’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
- Follow a residency accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education.
- Acquire a certification or license to practice from your state board.
Prothetists and biomedical engineers are different careers, although they both work with prosthetics.
A prosthetist is a healthcare professional, while a biomedical is an engineer.
A prosthetist works directly with the patient to design and develop a prosthesis that works specifically for them.
A biomedical engineer generally works on prosthetics, researching the best materials, developing innovative models and systems, and testing to ensure models meet operation needs and safety standards.
Prothetists may use the work of a biomedical engineer as a foundation or simply adapt their work to fit their particular client.
Also read: Can A Biomedical Engineer Become a Doctor?
Mechanical engineers do not work in a hospital setting, but they can work in the medical field.
They can work in laboratories, medical device companies, and biotech firms.
If they work in research and development, they may spend time in a hospital or clinic collecting data about patient needs.
However, this data typically comes from hospital administrators, doctors, or prosthetists.
Additionally, mechanical engineers could work in a hospital or clinic if they are maintaining or repairing machines on site.
Learn more: Do Mechanical Engineers Work Inside Or Outside?
Many different occupations work with prosthetics.
You may have interest in any of the following:
- Prosthetists and Orthotists: Develop prosthetics to suit patients
- Prosthetic and Orthotic Technicians: Work alongside prosthetists and orthotists
- Ocularists: Develop artificial eyes to serve patients
- Biomedical Engineer: Design and develop prosthetics
Whether you decide to become a biomedical engineer or a prosthetist, you will help people with disabilities, traumas, and amputations.
Although they are both challenging career paths, the reward of knowing you are making a positive impact is an unmatched feeling.
Naturally, you will also incur many career benefits, such as a substantial income and plenty of job options.