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A Guide to Engineering Design Courses

How to Apply for Your M.Eng. in Surgery and Intervention

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Surgeon wearing virtual reality headset to operate with medical robot-2
surgical room with robotic technology
In recent years, it has become increasingly necessary for the healthcare field to employ engineering experts who can bring technological advancement to medical practice. The conception, development and evaluation of novel technologies require a close interaction between multiple engineering disciplines and clinicians. 

Responding to this need, Vanderbilt University School of Engineering offers a unique graduate engineering program that equips engineers to improve the translation of technology to surgery and procedural medicine — a master of engineering in surgery and intervention (ESI). 

You have the valuable opportunity to join a community of driven engineering professionals who are all bridging the gap between clinicians and practitioners at Vanderbilt University School of Engineering; keep reading to learn more about this unique field of study (and how you can best apply to the master of engineering). 

Welcome to Your First Step in Transforming Clinical Research Into Reality

Engineer working on medical technology
healthcare technology being used by surgeon in operating room

At Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, we offer a respected master of engineering in surgery and intervention program that is uniquely designed to create a new group of engineers capable of creating, developing and translating systems, devices and algorithms designed to facilitate surgical and interventional processes and their outcomes.

Vanderbilt School of Engineering, in partnership with the Vanderbilt Institute for Surgery and Engineering (VISE), launched this novel graduate program to train engineers to address challenges and develop solutions at the intersection of engineering and procedural medicine.

VISE Diagram

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:

  • interventional imaging, therapeutics, guidance and delivery,
  • modeling, simulation, image analysis, data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence,
  • robotics, medical devices, instrumentation, and sensing.

Further, each student as part of their design experience will join a cutting-edge ESI laboratory environment as part of a design internship — an immersive designed-based project where students are mentored by both clinicians and engineering practitioners.

Understanding the M.Eng. in Surgery and Intervention Program Structure

With regards to the overall 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 coursework and electives — explore these two tracks below:

*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.

Gain Life-Changing Skills: An Overview of the ESI Design Internship

healthcare technology being used by surgeon in operating room-1
Engineer working on medical technology-1

Vanderbilt University understands the power behind learning by doing. For this reason, all graduate engineering students at Vanderbilt secure an engineering design internship prior to graduation. These experiential learning opportunities enable engineering students to develop real-world experience in a professional setting, which directly contributes to the marketability of Vanderbilt alumni.

With regards to the master of engineering in surgery and intervention, ESI students are required to complete a design course in the form of an ESI design internship. This design internship requirement is crucial as students are immersed in an intensive design project working environment with both expert clinical and engineering mentors. 

Through this design internship experience, students learn about cutting-edge approaches to contemporary surgical and interventional problems. Using their enhanced didactic engineering skills acquired over the course of their training program, combined with a novel design environment, students will develop their own advanced prototype device, process or therapeutic.

Engineering expertise available to you at VISE:

Modeling and simulation
Image processing
Imaging analysis
Data science

Devices and instrumentation
System integration
Interventional and surgical therapeutics
Artificial intelligence
Computer vision

Choosing Your ESI Preceptor at Vanderbilt

Healthcare workers learning surgical automation
Engineer working on medical technology-3

At Vanderbilt School of Engineering, there is a process to selecting a preceptor for each student with regard to the design environment:

1. The process begins with the evaluation of the student’s ESI skill survey upon application

2. In consultation with the program director, potential design environments are identified

3. The preceptor and student establish a mutual match

4. At the initiation of the 6-credit hour design course experience, preceptor and student enter into a design course project agreement 

ESI students are also encouraged to consult the various preceptor faculty and identify potential preceptors of interest. Additional advising by the program director on potential preceptors of interest will also be provided. 

*Note: Laboratory/Preceptor matches can be established apart from Vanderbilt resources. The design course sequence is conducted within the context of a non-disclosure environment with the goal of maintaining intellectual property. In the case of a non-Vanderbilt Laboratory/Preceptor design environment (e.g. industry), Vanderbilt resources typically available as part of this program and associated with being a Vanderbilt Inventor will not be able to be used (such as prototype funds and VISE facility use).  In addition, the student and the student’s non-Vanderbilt preceptor will have to develop an individual development plan (IDP) with the Program Director to ensure degree rigor while maintaining appropriate confidentiality of intellectual property. 

Here are the potential faculty/preceptors available for partnership at Vanderbilt School of Engineering.

Choose a topic you are interested in exploring:

Image Processing and Analysis

View the Labs

Data Science, Machine Learning, AI

View the Labs

Path 112@2x
Surgical Interventional Guidance and Delivery

View the Labs

Medical Devices and Instrumentation

View the Labs


View the Labs

Imaging and Biophotonis

View the Labs


View the Labs

Modeling and Simulation

View the Labs

Michael Miga

Ready to learn more about this design internship program? Contact the program director,
Michael I. Miga, Ph.D.

Connect with Dr. Miga

Resources for ESI Students

VU-ENG_015_CSI_Campus-1Graduate engineering students at Vanderbilt School of Engineering have access to Vanderbilt’s Innovation Center: the Wond’ry. A three-story, 13,000-square foot space, located in the heart of campus in Nashville, Tennessee, provides the tools and resources for students, faculty, staff and community members to bring ideas to life. 

The Wond’ry offers state-of-the-art makerspaces, virtual reality labs, workshops, training opportunities and programs designed to support anyone from budding entrepreneurs to community changemakers.

The Wond’ry also provides students opportunities to gain real-world experience in creating new processes, building new technologies and forming fresh insights. Resources include machine shops and design studios which are equipped with the latest technologies and facilities.

Campus Preview: You can browse the Wond’ry’s upcoming events here. 


Additional Resources for Future ESI Students

We invite you to take the next step in rewarding your spirit of ambition — please click below to explore more resources:

The EngineeringVU:
A blog for results-driven professionals looking to join a valuable discussion regarding the field of engineering today.

ESI Program Guide:
A digital guide specifically for innovative and ambitious engineers looking to secure a career in surgery and intervention.

Future of Healthcare Technology:
An interactive resource showcasing the cutting-edge field and the future of healthcare technology.

Additional Resources
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Additional Resources 2

Securing Your Spot in the Future of Healthcare: Application Requirements

healthcare technology being used by surgeon in operating room
Engineer working on medical technology

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

Fall Admission Deadline
May 15

Spring Admission Deadline
November 15

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

Engineer working on medical technology-1

  • Online application
  • Academic performance in previous degree program(s)
  • Resume or CV
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A statement of purpose
  • ESI skill survey
  • GRE scores are not required
  • TOEFL score (if applicable)

Highly-qualified applicants will meet with ESI program director, Dr. Michael Miga. An admissions committee with representative faculty from the involved departments will evaluate all applications for admission. Admission will be competitive and students will be selected on the basis of their scholastic preparation and intellectual capacity.

*Note: 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 on appropriate backgrounds, be sure to send inquiries to

Take this opportunity to jumpstart your career in surgery and intervention!

Apply Now

Meet the ESI Program Director, Dr. Michael Miga

Michael I. Miga, Ph.D. is the co-founder of the Vanderbilt Institute for Surgery and Engineering and program director of the master of engineering in surgery and intervention. His research focuses are image-guided surgery and intervention, computational modeling for therapeutic applications, soft-tissue mechanics, biotransport and inverse problems in therapeutics and imaging. 


Get Dr. Michael Miga’s first-hand account regarding the invaluable nature of Vanderbilt’s Master of Engineering in Surgery and Intervention degree:

Engineers Who Specialize in Surgery and Intervention Will Transform Procedural Medicine — Here’s How.


Michael Miga

— Dr. Michael Miga

Find Your Home at the Interface of Healthcare and Technology 

healthcare technology being used by surgeon in operating room-3
Engineer working on medical technology-4

Vanderbilt 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. Here are just a few of the things that set Vanderbilt’s master of engineering in surgery and intervention apart from other universities offering similar degrees:


What sets Vanderbilt’s master of engineering
in surgery and intervention apart?
Decades of investment in engineering, surgery and intervention research with world-class faculty

An unparalleled integration of engineering (VUSE/VISE) and clinical (VUMC) resources

Close proximity to VISE research center (co-located with medical center) allows engineering and surgical assets to collaborate

An intensive and supportive immersion experience with our clinical surgical professionals (~20 clinical specialties)

Extensive experience in commercial realizations among cadre 

Opportunity for up-skilling or re-skilling via online or in-person workforce development programs

The master of engineering in surgery intervention program at Vanderbilt University School of Engineering is a transformative field of study that prepares future engineering leaders for diverse careers across surgery and intervention and procedural medicine environments. You can choose to take the next step in your engineering career today; take this opportunity to connect with us! 

Take the first step in transforming your career with a master of engineering in surgery and intervention:


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