Engineering vs Biochemistry at Brown

<p>As I'm deciding which freshman year classes to take, I am trying to get a feel for where the two concentrations I'm interested in, Biomedical Engineering and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, will lead me. How does the Engineering department compare to the Biology department at Brown? I know they are both great programs, but does one stand out more than the other in certain areas? </p>

<p>More specifically, how does the BME concentration compare to the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology concentration?</p>

<p>Division</a> of Engineering</p>

<p>Program</a> in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology</p>

<p>Should also check out (Chemical bio track):
<a href="http://www.chem.brown.edu/documents/ConcentratorHandbook_2007_08.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.chem.brown.edu/documents/ConcentratorHandbook_2007_08.pdf&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>I think it depends on what you're hoping to do with it. Honestly, it's a little early to decide and I think you're better off pursuing whichever you find more interesting rather than which you think is "stronger". Both are strong programs. </p>

<p>There are a fair number of overlap courses, though I think the requirements for engineering are more stringent so you'll want to pay attention to making sure you get the core down in your freshman year. </p>

<p>I know a lot of people who were BioChem at first who switched out. I also know a fair number who were BME who switched out. So wait a bit to decide.</p>

<p>The two majors sound similar but are completely different.
Biomedical engineering is concentrated on studying math, mechanics, electric circuits, and computer programming in the goal of making medical devices that interface with the body. It is heavily math-based: a lot of your classes like biomechanics, biofluid dynamics, and biological thermodynamics will involve deriving purely theoretical, mathematical equations and then mapping these back on to a biological situation (I should add that there is a priori nothing uniquely biological about the math you learn - you could very easily apply the same equations to a trusses, pipes, power plants, etc.)</p>

<p>In contrast, there is much less math involved in Biochemistry and Molecular biology. It is the study of the molecular processes of life. Yes, this involves a bit of chemistry but it is mostly about understanding processes - enzyme A converts compound Y to Z, compound B turns on gene C which makes protein D which gets exported and binds to compound E, etc.</p>

<p>Freshman engineers will need to take more stringent courses than their science counterparts. I would advise you to take the harder courses that engineers take. It's always much easier to transfer from engineering to science than the other way around. Also, you probably won't actually do any engineering your freshman year, so don't get discouraged if the courses are too science-y or theoretical.</p>

<p>I started out in biomedical engineering but switched to molecular & cell biology. I was more interested in research and biochemistry rather than design and physics/electronics. This has been wonderful for me and I have no regrets about switching, but realize that the job prospects are much better for BMEs. You'll definitely want to get an M.S. in either field, but you might be able to get a job with a B.S. in BMEN, whereas just a B.S. in molecular biology is next to worthless. Definitely plan on going to med, grad, or law school if you do the biology route.</p>

<p>I would slow down there on the math part. I double majored in biochemistry and biophysics and had to take just as many math courses as my peers in chemical and bioengineering. On top of that took courses like physical chemistry which covers quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, etc. I feel like between these majors it's fairly easy to switch, but it would have to be fairly early because you do need those basic engineering courses. Funny thing is I am now in a graduate program in Bioinformatics at University of Michigan, and having to learn algorithms in biological processes and learn computer languages like Python and Perl. So I did make the journey towards engineering in the end, bioinformatics is like a fusion of engineering and science.</p>