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As someone interested in Neuroscience as a possible career, would electrical/electronic engineering be a good major?

Since the body's nervous system uses a series of electrical impulses to relay messages, I feel like this electronic/electrical engineering would be a good discipline to pursue. I could possibly minor in neuroscience, but also have available a wide array of career paths in both engineering disciplines and the medical setting. I have also read a lot about the crossroads between neuroscience and electrical/electronic engineering. Any reccomendations? #engineering #electrical-engineering #neuroscience #brain #medicine #body #electronic engineering


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Bill’s Answer

Jishnav, that is a good question. I would like to expand a bit on John's good answer with a few broad things to keep in mind.

I think the best engineers understand the science behind the technology they deal with, as well as the needs of users of products they design.

Favor electronics engineering over "plain" EE. Take a few courses in computer engineering. The things you learn in EE about physics of materials, field and wave characteristics and control, and micro-devices will greatly inform the neuroscience end of your interests. But I almost want say you should consider majoring in the bio sciences and minoring in EE. Or perhaps a BS in EE and then a masters in neuroscience. Get advice from guidance and career counselors and practitioners on what "blend" may work best for you.

Mix the two fields well. Look for colleges that have strong programs in both. They will usually have interdisciplinary studies where you can learn from and with other students in EE and in the biosciences on joint projects. Tip: Such projects look great on a resume and provide many talking points for you to inform job interviewers of how your skills were put to work to solve surrent, real problems.

Also look for schools that have outreach to the local communities where you can work with "real customers." Example: I taught EE Technology at a local community college. One of our project courses required students to "reinvent" products such as toys and sports gear for specific children with specific disabilities. This was a fast and interesting way to learn how EE and neuroscience work together, as well as to sample some hands-on human factors engineering.

Bill recommends the following next steps:

If interested, volunteer at a medical, rehab, or continuing care facility to see see what devices they use and what client needs they are serving.
Go to engineering job fairs at colleges and find employers whose work seems to be of interest. Ask general questions about what it is like to get into the field and what backgrond/educaton they are looking for.
Scan college catalogs of schools that offer both EE and bioengineering majors. Identify professors in either or both (Many catalogs have or link to brief professor bios.) Give them a call. Have ready 4-5 questions about their fields. Ask them if they would be willing (now or later) to give you some advice. If yes, ask your questions. Listen carefully. Ask any more questions that result from the first answers. Thank them. Send them a note of thanks as well.

Thank you so much Bill, definitely gives me something to think about :) Jishnav K.

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Elise’s Answer

Recent Biomedical/Neural Engineering graduate and masters student here. If you are interested in combining the fields of neuroscience and EE, that is awesome! The world needs more of you! I majored in Biomedical Engineering with a Neural Engineering track, so most of my classes were EE based. At times, I wish that I majored in EE and minored in Neuroscience. I would choose to major in EE over neuroscience if you are interested in medical devices/research. I would advise getting into a good Neural Engineering lab as soon as possible, and taking a few Neuroscience or Biomedical engineering courses during undergrad too. Majoring in neuroscience could be more limiting than EE because there a lot less jobs in industry, though if you are interested in PhD/research there may be more opportunities for you. I think EE would also give you the solid background knowledge in math, physics, and programming needed to understand how to study and create solutions to treat neural disorders. Some companies that make really interesting electrical/neural engineering devices include Cala Health; Medtronic, Boston Scientific, or Abbott Neuromodulation; and Neuropace. The Blue Brain Project and spinal cord stimulation research are really interesting to look into as well. I would advise looking through job titles/descriptions of electrical or biomedical engineers who work at these places and seeing if that is something you would be interested in. Maybe even contact someone in that role and speak with them about what they do. Best of luck to you!

Thank you for the insight, especially from someone in the industry, definitely gives me better insight :) Jishnav K.

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John’s Answer

Electrical/Electronics have become important due to all the equipment that depends on it now. Even more so as companies try to use it to automate processes even more. Allows you to be in many different jobs with good pay. Lots of job opportunities. Adding Neuroscience just provides you another special area. You may have seen where more equipment in the medical field has more machinery, electronics, computers, etc. That's where the world is headed. I think this would be a good path to follow.

Appreciate the help :) Jishnav K.

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Steve’s Answer

Jishnav,
Yes, there is a strong relationship between Neuroscience and Electrical Engineering. You would be well suited to study Electrical Engineering to pursue a career in Neuroscience, in addition to biomedical courses.

Steve

Appreciate the help :) Jishnav K.

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Steve’s Answer

Jishnav,
Yes, there is a strong relationship between Neuroscience and Electrical Engineering. You would be well suited to study Electrical Engineering to pursue a career in Neuroscience, in addition to biomedical courses.

Steve

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