KGI accelerates master’s in medical device engineering to one-year program

Keck Graduate Institute is now offering a one-year master’s program in Medical Device Engineering. (Wendy Zhang • The Student Life)

Following approval from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) announced on Feb. 22 that its Master of Science in Medical Device Engineering (MSMDE) will shift from a two-year to one-year degree program, effective immediately. 

MSMDE program director and associate professor Anna Hickerson has been at KGI for nearly 18 years. She helped KGI launch the MSMDE program in fall 2019 to provide graduate students with critical skills in everything MedTech — from product management to data analysis to prototyping. 

Six students are graduating with an MSMDE this year, five of which are second-year students. 

“We have one first-year student who gets to graduate in one year when he thought he would have to do two,” Hickerson said. “[So the change was] good luck for him and he gets to graduate with [the] other students.”

Hickerson added that most other MSMDE programs, of which there are only a handful in the U.S., are one-year long.

“It’s better for the students, [and] it’s better for KGI in terms of being competitive,” Hickerson said. “It’s such a large investment, so cutting it in half is a big deal, but I think we can offer the same level of skills.”

She explained that while the program is small right now, she hopes to eventually have around 20 or 25 students in the cohort.

“Maybe this new setup will be more enticing,” she said. “It’s [been] well received [by current students], so I’m really happy about that and I’ve certainly gotten a lot more interest from potential students I’ve talked to at different schools.”

The MSMDE is administered through KGI’s Henry E. Riggs School of Applied Life Sciences, which also offers a doctorate degree and six other masters programs. The MSMDE is KGI’s first ever offered one-year master’s degree. 

The degree culminates in a unique capstone experience — the Team Master’s Project (TMP) — which provides companies with a team of three to five students supervised by one faculty member who execute the development of a medical device product. Hickerson said the program is modeled after Harvey Mudd College’s capstone clinics.

“Companies will actually come to KGI and pay KGI to have our students solve a specific problem. The students work together in a team to address the issue,” Angelika Nimez, the Dean of Faculty for Riggs School and a MSMDE professor at KGI, said in an interview with Actalent on Feb. 6. “So effectively they gain industry experience. Which is then great because they can put that on their resume and then that opens up doors later on when they’re trying to land a job.”

This year, the MSMDE cohort is working with Medtronic, one of the biggest medical device companies in the world, Hickerson said. 

Hickerson gave a shout-out to KGI’s matching summer program, the Medical Device Development Bootcamp, which offers participants certificates in either medical device design or medical device prototype development depending on the session they choose.

The summer course itself is free, although students must cover their room and board costs if they choose the in-person program. 

KGI’s MSMDE graduates have had a 100 percent success rate in securing a job in the field or attending medical school, Hickerson said.

Facebook Comments