On Aug 25, 2000, a group of academics formed the Core Group in Bioengineering to prepare a proposal to Singapore’s Economic Development Board on the NUS Faculty of Engineering’s position on a Bioengineering Initiative. This Core Group comprising of key persons from various Faculties and Schools met regularly to chart the future direction of Bioengineering Education and Research in NUS. By Oct 19, 2000, in the 1st Bioengineering Steering Committee meeting, in which all major stakeholders were represented and together with the (then) Provost, Prof Chong Chi Tat, the NUS Bioengineering Initiative was established. It was hosted by the Department of Mechanical Engineering with full support from the Office of Life Sciences (the predecessor of the University-wide body Life Sciences Institute) and all the participating Faculties and Schools.
A “Minor in Bioengineering” programme was up in January 2001 and in November 2001 the ‘Major in Bioengineering” programme and Bioengineering graduate programme were approved. Under the Office of Life Sciences and the Faculty of Engineering’s support, an active recruitment of new faculty members was in full swing, and by Feb 2001, we had the concentration of relevant people to become an academic unit. A formal proposal on the formation of an academic unit was presented to the Faculty of Engineering and the Registrar in Mar 2001. Subsequently, in Oct 2001 the NUS Bioengineering Initiative became the Division of Bioengineering, an academic body with a Department status reporting to the Dean, Faculty of Engineering. In July 2002, the Bioengineering Corridor in Block E3, a joint-lab concept was established. This feat was the collective effort of several individuals as well as the strong support of senior administrators in the University.
The first batch of undergraduate students was enrolled in the “Major in Bioengineering” programme in 2003 and the first batch of postgraduate students was enrolled a year later. In 2005, the University provided space for the expansion of the Bioengineering Laboratories which is located in E3A level 7. It took two years to complete. 2006 was a momentous year when we witnessed the first batch of students graduated with BEng in Bioengineering. In 2008, the Major in Bioengineering” programme received accreditation from the IES’ Engineering Accreditation Board who is a member of the Washington Accord.
Our academic staff has been extremely productive over the last few years, they have produced high quality publication as well as developing innovative ideas that has licensed. In fact, in 2010 two spin-off companies were founded, ie Clearbridge Nanomedics and Ayoxxa Living Health Technologies.
In 2011, the Division was re-designated as the Department of Bioengineering by an act of Senate. This is in recognition of its growth and achievement. The Department celebrated its 10th Anniversary with publication of a commemorative booklet entitled, “A Decade of Growth” and the launched of the Bioengineering Industry Alliance. Prof Shu Chien was also invited to give the first “Bioengineering Distinguish Lecture” as part of the celebration. (For more information see this link)
Reflecting the research development, where solid foundations were built in areas closely related to healthcare. The Department of Bioengineering has undergone a name changed to “Department of Biomedical Engineering”, as on 1st October 2013. This better clarifies the Department’s identity to prospective students, industry, and strengthening links with the medical community. (For more information see our news, link)
Now the newly renamed Department of Biomedical Engineering continues to look toward the future with excitement, full of promise and potential.