Career Development in Bioengineering and Biotechnology (Series in Biomedical Engineering)
Edited by Guruprasad Madhavan, Barbara Oakley, Luis Kun
The more I learn, the more I realize there is to learn. That became very clear to me as I read through this book. I knew a little about biotechnology, and thought bioengineering was a somewhat related field. But the more I got into this book, the more I realized I know very little about these fields, and there is a whole new, fascinating world out there.
The book begins with some introductory material, defining the various fields, discussing the educational systems around the world, and employment trends and outlook. This provides a nice background for those unfamiliar with the field.
Thee next two sections of the book (comprising almost 30 chapters), are each written by a different person, who talk about their own career paths. They start with very traditional careers such as university professors, research and intellectual property law, then move into “innovative alternative careers” that span the range from healthcare to finance to regulatory affairs to writing nonfiction books (“best thought of as a supplement to your career”) to fashion design! Each chapter includes some personal and some general information, but the ratio of these two varies widely.
The next section of the book deals with “career development and success strategies”. The information in this section applies not only to bioengineering and biotechnology, but really to any kind of scientific career. Futurists talk about what kinds of engineers will be needed – not just topical specialties, but changes in types of thinking and lifelong learning.
The final section is perhaps the most unusual. These 33 chapters talk about “growth and responsibility beyond the profession”. Topics include eliminating hunger, gender equality, sustainable energy, and affordable and accessible energy. While initially surprising to find such a significant portion of a career book devoted to social and humanitarian issues, a large part of biotechnology is about improving people’s lives. There are many predictions about how the world will change, and how careers and technology will have to change to adapt to it. Even more than the preceding section, the discussion of how to use your professional career to improve the world around you applies not only to scientists, but to virtually all careers.
I very much liked the international flavor of the book – not only are the chapter authors from all over the world, but many chapters include discussion of educational opportunities all over the world, and the differences in careers in various countries.
While some chapters are definitely better than others, it’s probably a necessary result of the wide range of experiences and opinions covered. The mixture of data and personal experiences provides a nice balance, making the book both interesting and informative. For those starting out in these fields, or students considering this career path, this volume will provide some new ideas of where they could take their careers.