UBC’s Engineers in Scrubs (EiS) program was founded in 2011 by Dr. Antony Hodgson, and was designed to train graduate students to be leaders in medical innovation with a design process that emphasizes impactful outcomes and collaboration with clinical stakeholders. The first of its kind in Canada, the Engineers in Scrubs program teaches biomedical engineers to navigate the interfaces between engineering research, medical research, clinical practice, and product development. Through the program, students receive a significant portion of their training in hospitals and other clinical environments. This unique opportunity enables observation and interaction with health care providers across a broad clinical spectrum. Students learn to identify and prioritize important clinical needs that have potential engineering solutions. EiS students develop a keen eye for innovation opportunities, and graduates become drivers of the medical technology development process.


An excellent example is Arbutus Medical, a medical device company with global impact, which was founded by EiS alumni:

Through expert medical engineering and an ethos of frugal innovation, BC-based Arbutus Medical has designed and commercialized a portfolio of medical devices that can improve care for millions of patients worldwide. Their DrillCover Technology is a reusable liquid and pathogen proof sterile enclosure that envelopes a non-sterile tool and fully seals the power transmission through the sterile barrier. It provides surgeons around the world with an orthopedic drill at a significantly lower price than traditional medical power tools, providing a safe and sterile power tool alternative that is also lightweight and packable.

Please see other examples in the Featured Projects section.


1. Biomedical Breakthroughs in Vancouver (CityNews)
2. Seat belts and hockey gloves among innovations for Canada’s first University biomedical design program (Vancouver Sun)

Learn about the EiS Program from a student’s perspective


EiS students follow a slightly modified curriculum. They take a number of the regular BME graduate courses, but also take the following courses in partial satisfaction of the BME core course requirements:

Course No. Course Credits Term
BMEG 500 Orientation to the Clinical Environment 1.0 1
BMEG 501 Interdisciplinary Team Project in Medical Innovation 3.0 1-2

*BMEG 590 was part of the EiS curriculum prior to 2019W. Beginning September 2019W it is no longer offered.


BMEG 500

In this 1-credit course, students spend time in a series of interactive tours of selected sites, covering topics such as the organization of the hospital, the roles of various personnel, a tour of several major departments and facilities at Vancouver General Hospital (with special focus on the BME-related research laboratories, clinical engineering facility, and sterile processing department), the Medical Device Development Centre (an incubator facility for medical device start-up companies), the Centre for Comparative Medicine, and an introduction to the prototyping facilities at the Medtech Development Hub (which will be accessible to EiS project teams). In addition, students will be paired with a selection of clinicians and allied healthcare workers for a shadowing experience. The primary purpose of this experience is for the students to develop an understanding of the day-to-day operations and priorities of the various healthcare workers, and what problems could be solved with/by a biomedical engineer.

BMEG 501

This is a 4-credit, eight-month course in medical technology innovation which will bring together EiS students and clinicians (physicians, nurses, and other allied health professions), end users (patients and caretakers), business experts (medical device entrepreneurs and venture creation specialists), and engineering professors in a formal process of clinical problem identification and prioritization, which will lead to ideas for interdisciplinary team projects to be conducted over the academic year. In a series of clinical engagement workshops, the students will be exposed to a range of clinical problems, on which they will perform structured research and apply a formal process of needs filtering to identify the most compelling project for each team. The team projects will be based at the hospital, so trainees will have an exceptional opportunity to engage with clinical personnel and seek their input at all stages of the design, development, and testing processes. In addition, students will have access to medical device prototyping equipment and knowledgeable technical personnel through a network of machine shop facilities. Through this course, students will develop a practical understanding and appreciation of the many considerations involved in developing technology to address clinical needs.


  • The EiS program simulates a professional environment and its courses are not as rigidly structured as most other courses. Uncertainty is part of any realistic technology development process. Students must learn to drive the process, be proficient in working in (potentially preassigned) teams and with other stakeholders, while developing technology that may not be familiar to them. Students with good leadership skills and the ability to self-moderate tend to do well in EiS.
  • Due to the need to accommodate the schedules of the tour sites, clinicians, and other stakeholders, some of the course activities will need to take place outside of the regular class time. The TAs will work with the class to avoid scheduling conflicts, but the students are expected to be as flexible as possible. Teams are also expected to schedule their own meeting times as needed.


If you are an applicant to the BME program and would like to be considered for the EiS program, please indicate your interest in the “Program Specific Question” section of our online application form. You will be directed to a questionnaire on your interest and motivation to join EiS. Admission criteria include overall academic record and your responses to the questionnaire.

This program is open to both Canadian and International applicants.


Engineers in Scrubs began as an NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program in 2011. Since 2018, the Praxis Spinal Cord Institute has generously provided additional support to expand and enhance the EiS program. The Centre for Hip Health and Mobility is a core partner of the EiS program, and provides essential teaching and prototyping facilities and technical expertise. We are immensely grateful for the support from all sponsors.

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