HEALTH ENGINEERING. Hello Stefan Candefjord, Assistant Professor and Biomedical Engineering program director at Chalmers University of Technology. This fall’s degree project fair for Master’s students in Health Engineering will be held on October 12th and, this year, include Bachelor’s thesis projects for Biomedical Engineering students as well.
What do you hope will result from this year’s degree project fair?
I hope we’ll be able to identify lots of collaborative projects for both undergraduate and postgraduate theses, and that this will enable us to expand collaboration between Chalmers students and supervisors at Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Sahlgrenska Academy.
I also hope these meetings can kickstart various projects with ultimate potential to strengthen Region Västra Götaland and benefit the patients.
How important is it for Chalmers, Sahlgrenska Academy, and Sahlgrenska University Hospital to collaborate in this way?
Incredibly important! The students reading for Master’s degrees in medical engineering can greatly benefit healthcare. But that calls for meetings, to boost knowledge exchange — so that the care sector knows what students can contribute, while also imposing requirements and defining the issues to be addressed.
Successful projects and increased collaboration are keys to better education, improved healthcare, more services, and increased innovation.
This year, students set to write Bachelor’s theses in medical engineering are included for the first time. What’s the background to that?
The program started in 2020 and we’re really keen to attract students with an interest in health engineering. Right from the start, we’ve worked to increase collaboration with Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital, to make our education more clinically relevant.
When the program started, it was already a clear goal that the Bachelor’s thesis projects would be an important aspect of the collaboration, enabling the healthcare system to share in the program’s strengths and the students to address care issues.
The Bachelor’s degree projects can be about performing a prestudy — maybe for a clinical study, or about a new medtech service or product that could undergo clinical testing — or studying similar projects to monitor external advances. Evaluation and further development of new ideas and services in digital healthcare are interesting, too.
What can we expect from the medical engineering students and their thesis projects?
I think we can expect the students’ projects to make significant contributions to knowledge and development in healthcare. I also hope this kind of fair will become an annual event that fosters good collaboration that grows over time. And that there’ll be awareness that the medical engineering students can be a good resource for testing various research questions, as well as representing scope for future recruitments that can enhance healthcare digitalization.
In addition, this group of students will be doing their degree projects in two years’ time, and the Bachelor’s theses can then serve as a basis for in-depth studies.
What are your impressions of the students’ goals and visions? What are the problems they seek to solve and what questions they want to address?
Above all, they want to work on something of clinical relevance, and to help achieve something for the healthcare system and the patients. That’s why they chose the program, after all.
What can staff at Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital expect from taking on students working for their Bachelor’s thesis projects?
They can expect a diligent, curious group of students who are going to tackle the challenges of healthcare. My hope is that those interested in supervising these students will want to follow these students’ work, serve as a sounding board, and guide the progress of their projects, so that the students can provide the most benefit possible and we learn as much as possible from each other.
What do you think is the most positive aspect of the degree project fair?
It’s the fact that varying talents get to meet so as to tackle complex, intractable problems jointly. And that people with engineering and healthcare skills can work together. This meeting is exciting to be involved in, because of the new knowledge that will be generated from it.
It’s also pleasing to see how many people want to work on projects that can directly benefit patients and improve healthcare now and in the future. We face an incredible lot of challenges, and at Chalmers and Sahlgrenska Academy we firmly believe in greater collaboration between medicine and engineering. When different skills and disciplines meet and forge a close relationship, it enables technological development to solve problems relevant to the care services.
What’s more, local collaboration is highly valuable. Chalmers, the Hospital, and the Academy are located in close proximity, and we’re already working together, but we can do a lot to cooperate more closely. The degree project fair can help to increase these interfaces.
BY PATRIK CENTERWALL, SAHLGRENSKA UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL