Biomedical engineering is the only engineering program offered at USD. The program decided to partner with South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SDSM&T) in Rapid City.
The partnership began in 2006 after the universities had worked together and saw a need for it.
Daniel Engebretson, the chair of the biomedical engineering program, said this area of research has been growing in South Dakota.
“In South Dakota, there have been a lot of investments into biotech, biosciences, and MedTech and we need a workforce for that,” Engebretson said. “It was a logical outgrowth to create an undergraduate program that would help support that emerging economy.”
Students involved in the partnership will either get their degree from USD or from SDSM&T based on Board of Regents requirements. However, students are able to choose which program they want to join based on their interests.
“At USD our emphasis is much more on the biomedical side of things and at the School of Mines, their emphasis is engineering,” Engenbretson said. “If a student’s interest is more aimed towards understanding a medical problem and solving it with a medical approach it would make more sense to come to USD than the School of Mines.”
Eric Sandhurst is a graduate student with a degree in biomedical engineering. Sandhurst said he chose USD’s program because he liked its smaller size compared to SDSM&T.
“The faculty really encouraged the graduate students to collaborate together and share ideas,” Sandhurst said. “The students get to become experts using a particular machine so we learn from each other and help each other.”
Sandhurst said he appreciates the engineering expertise he receives from SDSM&T.
“Since the School of Mines is traditionally engineering focus, they bring faculty with that type of expertise,” Sandhurst said. “They know how their research connects with the industry and within other academic fields related to that.”
Sandhurst has gained many opportunities from the universities partnership, including the startup of his own company.
Sandhurst met Jevin Meyerink from SDSM&T at conferences in the state. Since 2016, the two have worked on starting their own nonprofit biotech advising group.
“We realized we had a lot in common with research and career goals,” he said. “Since we can work from both sides of the state, we can take advantage of our industry.”
The partnership is beneficial because each university brings their expertise to the table.
“We have taken the strengths of both institutions and blended them together to make this curriculum,” Engebretson said.