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Is outsourcing a problem in the biomedical engineering / neuroengineering field?

I am a student planning to major in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Neuroscience in hopes of being competitive in the field of neuroengineering. Specifically, I would like to work on the development of neuroprosthetics. I know that outsourcing is a bit of a problem in other engineering fields, so I was wondering if this also holds true for biomedical engineering? I would also like to know about job opportunities in this field. I am hoping that the industry is not too small to be dependable.

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Lindsay’s Answer

Hi Abigail, it's great that you're thinking about the overall viability of a path, and many of us (women in particular) find out too late that the full context of what we wanted to do has not proven viable. All the answers above are very insightful. I would add one thing: deconstruct what you mean by "problem". The world has always been a global economy; if it weren't, you couldn't buy a pair of jeans for less than $400, and I would imagine most folks in the US would not consider paying $40 instead of $400 a problem. Certainly the myth of globalization being 100% positive for each stakeholder is untrue, but from your question I am inferring that you mean something else by "problem". Any good-paying job in such an inflationary economy as we have had your whole life, requires (or gives you an incredibly enviable opportunity, to put it another true way) working with people from all over the world. Outsourcing (I'm assuming you meant from the US since you didn't specify) is no better opportunity in the country of destination than in the country of origin. It benefits top executive bonuses, and that is all. What we get to do as workers in a global economy is take the opportunity of the inevitable multicontinent structure, and learn about others' lives in other places. This is not an us/them matter or a "problem". It is an opportunity to learn more about others than any of us ever would have gotten to if we weren't in a global field. Knowing the intimacies and routines of others in other places makes a huge difference to our ability to discern the best strategy, the likeliest parasite, the nearby stimuli, and tons of other things that impact who has enough insight to go from an entry engineer to a business leader. I will say as a person who works with tons of engineers and healthcare professionals that you'd have to try hard to be in the field you are suggesting and not work globally, and that you will be far less competitive for any preferred jobs if you choose to take on domestic-only opportunities. As a woman, I would never be able to land a project if I didn't have the flexibility and specific skill set of multiple deep culture competencies. Women just don't have the luxury to not have lots of top credentials and still be at the top of a candidate pile. I hope you find what you are looking for - thanks for writing in and good luck as you discern what is right for this stage and your future planning.
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Daniel’s Answer

Abigail,
Joanne is answer is right on the money. The question for me is why are you asking about Outsourcing? Is this is the field where you believe you have strong talents and can be successful based upon the skills you have developed and your natural inclinations? If so, then it makes sense for you to pursue this field along the path Joanna has outlined. If you're asking the question about Outsourcing because of wage suppression, and you want to pursue a lucrative as well as rewarding career, then there are additional considerations. Work for the federal government or its agencies, such as DARPA, is likely to be protected from Outsourcing and the more nefarious insourcing where companies bring foreign workers here on H-1B visas to suppress the wages of citizens. The US has the best schools in your field, so you should aim to go to the very best schools. That means you need the top grades, test scores, and if possible, experience, through activities like science competitions and internships. It also means if you expect to keep ahead of foreign competition for your dream job, you need to be looking at a PhD.

Daniel recommends the following next steps:

Seek a mentor or at least a contact in your field, who has the kind of job that you aspire to
Look into participating in Science Olympiad. From my experience with my two kids, I have found that the biomedical participants tend to win a large percentage of the Awards
If you are in high school it's definitely time to start looking at schools for both undergraduate and graduate work. You need to figure out what it's going to take to get into those schools.
I would suggest loading up on advanced placement courses that can help you start college further along than the average student. Both of my kids were able to skip a year of college through the advanced placement and dual-credit programs at the local College
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Mark’s Answer

Abigail,

Personally, I would think there will be much less outsourcing. Primarily because of the stiff competition here in 2021 and it's a relatively new field. With agencies like DARPA heavily involved in the research it makes me think that companies will be more likely to keep it in house. I would expect some outsourcing because it's 2021 and everything is global.

Good luck!
Mark
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Joanna’s Answer

Hi Abigail, great question. Although outsourcing has increased over the years in the biotech industry, it is a fast growing field where there are many opportunities here in the states working for a medical device or pharmaceutical company. Many of these companies hire new grads out of college or those who have completed an internship. Other industries you might consider entering into with a biomedical engineering degree is research and development and manufacturing. Companies who hire graduates in this field include Baxter Health Care, Boston Scientific, Medtronic and GE Healthcare.

Employment of biomedical engineers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Biomedical engineers likely will see employment growth because of increasing possibilities brought by new technologies and increasing applications to medical equipment and devices.

I suggest going to (https://online-engineering.case.edu/blog/biomedical-engineering-careers) to learn more information about career paths you can take with a Biomedical Engineering degree.
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