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The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering is a department in the Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Engineering dedicated to the study of and research in biomedical engineering, and is named after the pioneering engineer and Georgia Tech alum Wallace H. Coulter. The Coulter BME department is a Joint Department between the Georgia Tech College of Engineering and Emory University's School of Medicine.
EstablishmentGeorgia Tech Provost and Vice President Michael E. Thomas and the Emory Dean of Medicine Thomas J. Lawley established an Advisory Committee of Georgia Tech and Emory faculty to address new opportunities in biomedical engineering. The Committee met initially on June 2, 1997 and was charged to develop a set of recommendations for an innovative and unique Department of Biomedical Engineering that is joint with Georgia Tech and Emory and that will enable both institutions to maximize research and educational opportunities in fields of intersecting biomedical interest. The Committee was required to report to Drs. Thomas and Lawley no later than August 15, 1997. The following is a summary of the recommendations from the Committee:
NamingRecognized as one of the most influential inventors of the twentieth century, Wallace Coulter studied electronics as a student at Georgia Tech in the early 1930s. Mr. Coulter developed the "Coulter Principle," a theory that gave birth to both the automated hematology industry and the field of industrial fine particle counting. His "Coulter Counter," a blood cell analyzer, is used to perform one of medicine's most often-requested and informative diagnostic tests, the complete blood count. Coulter positioned the Coulter Corporation as the leader in the diagnostic industry. In October 1997, the Coulter Corporation was acquired by Beckman Instruments, Inc., and is now known as Beckman-Coulter, Inc.
Controversy While the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering enjoys a high ranking, due primarily to a few unusually large grants, several aspects of the department have created controversy surrounding the undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The Ph.D. program averages an unusually lengthy time-to-degree of 6+ years. Additionally, many students are forced out with a terminal Master's Degree after 4 to 5 years, despite having successfully passed the Qualifying/Comprehensive Examination. This has produced a low Ph.D graduation rate for the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering.
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