In the process of developing medical device innovations, who better to dream of new health care technologies than doctors themselves? And who better to make the dream come true than engineers? Getting the two together is exactly what happens in a two-semester undergraduate sequence that pairs teams of bioengineering undergraduates in their last two years of study with physicians from the University Health Care system.

This unique interface between the Department of Bioengineering and the University Medical Center pushes ideas into the development and commercialization cycle.

“All of these ideas are like unplanted seeds that physicians are just carrying around in their pockets,” says Bob Hitchcock, assistant professor of bioengineering and a former executive in the biomedical device industry sector. “Our job is to help get the seeds planted in the ground. It is our hope that this program will add substantially to the biomedical portfolio at the Technology Commercialization Office, helping make the University a leader in biomedical device innovation.”

Projects under development range from cardiology, to rehabilitation, neonatology and orthopedics. Hitchcock works with clinicians to compose invention disclosures and presents these ideas to the class early in the first semester. Students then select which projects they would like to spend their year developing.

The BioDesign educational and training program was born out of the need to give graduating bioengineering students the opportunity to get real-world experience and create high quality design portfolios. During the development of ideas from concept to commercialization, teams are required to adhere to and integrate best practice development processes common to true biomedical product innovation cycles. They are also required to follow FDA guidelines. Participation in the program opens up opportunities for many graduating seniors.

In partnership with other groups at the University, the Department of Bioengineering seeks to expand the BioDesign concept to include graduate and post-graduate training. The graduate version, tentatively called BioInnovate, will leverage the expertise and experience that exists on campus to further enhance innovation and product development by Utah students and professionals, both within the University and the regional medical device industry.

Throughout the year, clinical and industrial partners help guide and mentor students through the product development process. The unique partnership not only facilitates interaction between the various constituencies but also builds upon Utah’s prominence in biomedical device design and production. We rely on our clinical partners and industrial partners to help guide this product development process. For more information regarding funding opportunities, research collaboration, Industrial Advisory Board activities or commercialization opportunities please visit the BioDesign Website or contact Bob Hitchcock at