Master of Engineering in Surgery and Intervention Program

Engineering in Surgery and Intervention

At the Intersection of Healthcare and Engineering

Over the past several decades, dramatic breakthroughs in biomedical science have been witnessed within laboratory research, but the ability to translate those discoveries and make new discoveries has been a challenge and has been often characterized as the bottleneck of clinical translation.

At Vanderbilt University, we believe that the fundamental constraints associated with clinical translation can be dramatically improved with the training of engineers intimately familiar with medical procedures and trained in the inception of novel technology-based platforms.

Vanderbilt University offers a new graduate engineering program that will equip engineers to improve translation of technology for surgery and intervention

In response to this need, Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, in partnership with the Vanderbilt Institute for Surgery and Engineering (VISE), has launched a master of engineering in surgery and intervention — a niche, rigorous engineering graduate program that will prepare the next generation of engineers to address challenges and envision solutions at the interface of engineering and medicine.

The degree is a 30-credit hour program designed to enhance training in the domains of engineering for surgery and intervention with extensive exposure to clinical domains. ESI core skill sets available for training are:

  1. interventional imaging, therapeutics, and delivery,
  2. modeling, simulation, artificial intelligence, image analysis, and data science,
  3. robotics and medical devices.

To learn more about our master of engineering in surgery and intervention, connect with our team today!

Why Vanderbilt?

  • Decades of investment in engineering, surgery, and intervention research with world-class faculty
  • An intensive and supportive immersion experience with ~20 clinical specialties
  • An unparalleled integration of engineering (VUSE/VISE) and clinical (VUMC) resources
  • Extensive experience in commercial realizations among cadre

VISE SOLDVanderbilt University’s strong history of and commitment to interdisciplinary work and the close proximity of its Medical and Engineering Schools makes it the ideal institution for advancing the state of the art in this field. In conjunction with VISE, the School of Engineering provides a transformative infrastructure that facilitates this interdisciplinary work and creates an environment in which traditional boundaries are eliminated. In fact, Vanderbilt University is one of the only universities to offer such a ground-breaking program.

This type of program is highly needed within the industry and Vanderbilt University is uniquely qualified to offer it

The current and emeritus members of VISE have been performing trans-institutional work for almost four decades within the domains of surgery, intervention and engineering. This relationship is unique to Vanderbilt and has been maintained by the passion of the members devoted to this domain.

Over these four decades, this cadre has had the singular vision to see Vanderbilt as world leaders in this unique field. The VISE faculty firmly believe that what we have accomplished thus far is only a fraction of what is possible provided that institutional support and future investment be equally passionate. In short, the focus of VISE and this master of engineering in surgery and intervention is exactly on this type of technology platform development for both treatment and discovery.


We understand that navigating the graduate school admissions process can seem challenging. In an effort to simplify the process for you, we’ve outlined some of the requirements below.

Applications must be submitted online, but to help you understand the admissions criteria, here are some of the basic requirements:

  • Online application
  • Academic performance in previous degree program(s)
  • Resume or CV
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A statement of purpose
  • TOEFL score (if applicable)

An admissions committee with representative faculty from the involved departments will evaluate all applications. Admission will be competitive and students will be selected on the basis of their scholastic preparation and intellectual capacity.

ESI Program Curriculum

Students who pursue this degree commonly hold a bachelor’s degree in a conventional engineering discipline (e.g., mechanical, electrical, or biomedical engineering) or computer science. However, the program is also adaptable to other STEM areas as well (e.g., neuroscience, physics, mathematics, etc.). If you have questions, be sure to send inquiries to

With regard to program structure, the master of engineering in surgery and intervention has two tracks: the innovator track and the inventor track. Each track is 30 credit hours and consists of core course work and electives — learn more about these two tracks below:

  • Innovator Track

    The innovator track program is a one-year+ program specifically structured to enable students who are constrained by career path developments such that extended multi-year study is not possible. The goals of the program are to quickly provide enhanced skill sets with rigorous study, as well as provide important exposure to many clinical domains. This track sequence is Fall Semester - Spring Semester - Summer Session I - Summer Session II.

    Typical curriculum for the innovator track:

    Fall Semester

    ESI: Methods

    Professional Development*
    (e.g. ENGM 6500)



    Spring Semester

    BME 6301 ESI: Provocative




    Summer Session

    ESI: Design I (first half)

    ESI: Design II (second half)


  • Inventor Track

    The inventor track program is the same 30 credit hour program but is a more conventional option consisting of two-years of courses. This track is specifically structured to enable students who have recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree and who wish to spend a concentrated period of time gaining skill sets within the engineering and surgery/intervention domain. This extended structure allows students to spend additional time within the novel research/design VISE environment to assist in the inception phase of their platform technologies in surgery and intervention. This track sequence is Fall Semester I - Spring Semester 1 - Fall Semester II - Spring Semester II. 

    Typical curriculum for the inventor track:

    Fall Semester – Year 1

    ESI: Methods

    Professional Development* (e.g. ENGM 6500)


    Spring Semester – Year 1

    BME 6301 ESI: Provocative Questions



    Fall Semester – Year 2


    ESI: Design I

    Spring Semester – Year 2


    ESI: Design II

    *Note:  There are several professional courses in the School of Engineering that would satisfy this requirement.  This is done in consultation with the student’s adviser and program director.  This can be satisfied in Fall or Spring.

  • Course Descriptions

    Within the master of engineering in surgery and intervention, there are five required core courses: one immersion, one methods, one professional, and two design. The remainder of the degree involves an additional five electives

    + Substitution of core components may be possible in consultation with the Program Director.

    ESI – Immersion:

    • BME 6301 — Engineering in Surgery and Intervention: Provocative Questions

      • This course is designed to provide an in depth clinical immersion with a scaffold design involving ten or more physicians from a variety of medical specialties discussing disease and dysfunction background, and the most common and challenging procedures, interventions and treatments in their practice. In addition, the clinical cadre propose provocative questions for added discussion to encourage creativity and lateral thinking.  Accompanying didactic lectures relate basic engineering principles to associated procedural medicine topics.

    ESI – Methods(examples of satisfying courses are below, not a complete list):

    • Devices: CS 8395 — Internet of Medical Things

      • The course covers foundational topics for designing Internet of medical things (IoMT) solutions including systems (devices, interoperability, and integration), algorithms (data design, feature engineering, and time series machines learning), and commercialization (regulatory pathways and entrepreneurship). Case studies motivate challenges, solutions, and future opportunities in IoMT system and algorithm design to de-risk commercialization from concept to market adoption. Upon completion, students will be prepared to engage in commercially-viable IoMT research and development.

    • Guidance and Delivery: EECE 8395 — Engineering for Surgery and Intervention
      • Students will gain expertise in a breadth of technical topics of interest in engineering in surgery and other medical interventions, with focus on both theory and project experience. Topics will include interactive data visualization and analysis, image acquisition and reconstruction, registration and optical tracking, image processing, machine learning and deep learning, and bio modeling.
    • Image Analysis and Data Science: CS 5262 — Foundations of Machine Learning
      • Theoretical and algorithmic foundations of supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and reinforcement learning. Linear and nonlinear regression, kernel methods, support vector machines, neural networks and deep learning methods, instance-based methods, ensemble classifiers, clustering and dimensionality reduction, value and policy iteration. Explainable AI, ethics, and data privacy.
    • Image Processing: CS 8395 — Open Source Programming for Medical Image Processing
      • This hands-on course introduces students to the open-source libraries, tools and techniques for solving medical image analysis problems in research, commercial and clinical settings. The topics will include open-source libraries for addressing visualization needs that arise in medical image analysis, as well as open-source cross-platform software as development based for advanced work. This course will also use best practices, such as version management, needed for generating reproducible results.
    • Imaging:  BME 7420 — Magnetic Resonance Imaging Methods
      • MR techniques to image tissue for clinical evaluation and research. RF pulses, k-space trajectories, chemical shift, motion, flow, and relaxation. Derivation of signal equations for pulse sequence design and analysis. Course includes hands-on experimental studies.
    • Modeling:  BME 7310 — Advanced Computational Modeling and Analysis In Biomedical Engineering
      • By the end of this course, the student will understand the details of how to model different biological systems and some of the most current topics in modeling today.  Additionally, a sound understanding will be developed between the mathematics of models and their physiological counterparts for future work in biomedical simulation, imaging, and therapeutic/surgical guidance.  The student should gain a firm grasp of numerical methods for the solution of partial differential equations at the course conclusion.
    • Robotics:  ME 5271 — Robotics
      • History and application of robots. Robotic mechanical architecture, mobility analysis of linkages, rotations and rigid body transformations and their parametrizations. Homogeneous coordinates of points and lines, exponential coordinates of rotation and twist coordinates, direct and inverse position analysis of serial manipulators and elimination theory. Serial robot statics and compliance, motion interpolation/path planning, instantaneous kinematics and Jacobian formulations. Lagrangian dynamics of serial robots, and motion control.

    Professional Core+:

    • ENGM 6500 — Engineering Leadership and Program Management

      • Students will learn to apply core principles of leadership and program management as engineering professionals. The course will cover strategic planning, people management, staffing, compensation, business process improvement theory, business interruption, leadership styles, emotional intelligence, negotiation and ethical business practices.

    Design Core:

    • Six credit hours of BME/ME/ or EECE 7899 are required

      • Students in this course are immersed in an intensive design project working with both clinical and engineering mentors that is focused at cutting edge solutions to contemporary surgical and interventional problems using their enhanced skills in engineering design acquired over the course of their training program.


    • The remaining 15 credit hours will be chosen from a number of electives. While not a complete list, some possible elective courses available are:

    • BME 5400 Foundations of Medical Imaging
    • BME 7110 Laser-Tissue Interaction and Therapeutic Use of Lasers
    • BME 7310 Advanced Computational Modeling and Analysis in Biomedical Engineering
    • BME 7450 Advanced Quantitative and Functional Imaging
    • BME 8901 Special Topics on Bioacoustics and Ultrasonic Imaging
    • BME 8901 Advanced Drug Delivery
    • BME 8901 Special Topics – Advanced Ultrasound Imaging
    • BME 8901 Special Topics – Advanced Ultrasound Imaging
    • BME 8901/ME 8391 Special Topics – Science and Engineering of Exoskeletons
    • BME 8901 Special Topics – Optical Device Development
    • BME 8901 Special Topics – Computational Genomics
    • CS 5249 Projects in Virtual Reality Design
    • CS 5260 Artificial Intelligence
    • CS 5376 Foundations of Human Computer Interactions
    • CS 5891 Special Topics – Numerical Methods for CS
    • CS 5891 Special Topics – Algorithms for Decision-Making
    • CS 5891 Special Topics – Reinforcement Learning
    • CS 6357 Open-Source Programming for Medical Image Analysis
    • CS 6362 Advanced Machine Learning
    • CS 8395 Special Topics – Deep Learning: Representation
    • CS 8395 Special Topics - Deep Learning in Medical Image Computing
    • EECE 6357 Advanced Image Processing
    • EECE 6354 Intelligent Systems and Robotics
    • ECE 8395 Special Topics – Analysis of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
    • ECE 5353 Image Processing
    • ECE 5363 Applied Statistical Machine Learning
    • ECE 6357 Advanced Image Processing
    • ECE 5257 Control Systems I
    • ME 5263 Computational Fluid Dynamics and Multiphysics Modeling
    • ME 5236 Linear Control Theory
    • ME 5271 Robotics
    • ME 5284 Modeling and Simulation of Dynamic Systems
    • ME 8323 Micro/NanoElectroMechanical Systems
    • ME 8353 Design of Electromechanical Systems
    • ME 8391 Special Topics – Optimization and Optimal Control
    • ME 8391 Special Topics – Bio-Inspired Robotics
    • ME 8331 Robotic Manipulators
    • ME 8391 Special Topics in Robotics and Mechanism Synthesis

Engineering in Surgery and Intervention Faculty

Industry Educational Advisory Board

Stephen Aylward, PhD

Kitware Inc

Steven Boronyak, PhD


Shikha Chaganti, PhD

Siemens Healthineers

Steve Chen, MBA


Rachel Clipp, PhD

Kitware Inc

Jarrod Collins, PhD

Inari Medical

Josephine Granna, PhD


Rebekah Griesenauer, PhD

Valo Health

Steve Hartmann, PhD


Brandon Hoffman, MBA

Nissha Medical Technologies

Christopher Jarrett, PhD

Salesforce Inc., Healthcare and Life Science

Petr Jordan, PhD


David Leong, PhD


Michael Mellor, MS

Analog Devices, Inc.

Srivatsan Pallavaram, PhD

Abbott Neuromodulation

Thomas Pheiffer, PhD

Intuitive Surgical

Piotr Slawinski, PhD

Noah Medical

Jonathan Sorger, PhD

Intuitive Surgical

Jaime Tierney Stanton, PhD


Jim Stefansic, PhD, MBA

Cumberland Emerging Technologies

Nora Tovar

Johnson & Johnson

Elizabeth Vasconcellos, MS

ClearPoint Neuro

Jing Zhao, PhD



Contact Information

For inquiries and more information, please contact: 

Graduate Recruiter: 
Gabriel Luis  

Program Manager: 
Joanne Wang, Ed.D. 

Program Director: 
Michael Miga, Ph.D. 
Professor of Biomedical Engineering