Foothill College's biomedical program proves unique among community colleges

Courtesy of Foothill College
Noel Gaeta is able to play games, thanks to a lightweight exoskeleton designed by students in the Biomedical Devices Program at Foothill College. This year’s program launches Sept. 25.

When people think of cutting-edge technology, institutions like Stanford University immediately come to mind.

But even closer to home, Foothill College’s Biomedical Devices Program – the only one of its kind among California community colleges – brings together students at all levels in a collaborative, hands-on environment.

Oxana Pantchenko, Ph.D., director of the Science Learning Institute at Foothill, oversees the program, a fusion of medical science and engineering geared toward creating devices to improve the lives of patients with disabilities. Students have designed adaptive handles, made-to-fit toothbrushes, spoons and pencils for special-needs children.

“Our first class had a great mix of students, from students just out of high school to NASA scientists who wanted to learn more and people who already have degrees who want to go into the field,” Pantchenko said.

After completing the certificate program, students are prepared to enter the growing field of biomedical devices.

Max Frohlich had already earned a degree in medical science, but he enrolled in Foothill’s Biomedical Devices Program to learn the technical and engineering skills needed to enter the field.

“I chose Foothill because it was the only place I could take the classes I wanted,” he said. “But more valuable than the classes I took was the lab that Oxana put together, getting together with other students and working on projects.”

For students interested in continuing their education after earning a certificate, Foothill’s program is the only community college program in the state with courses transferrable to the biomedical engineering program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

The 24-unit course list has no prerequisites, and classes can be taken in any order. Classes include Engineering Graphics, Introduction to Biomedical Engineering, Design & Manufacturing in the Biomedical Engineering Field, Introduction to Medical Device Regulations and Introduction to Quality Assurance.

Scholarships are available for students in financial need. The program is open during the 2017-2018 academic year, which runs from Sept. 25 through June 29.

To enroll and for more information, visit

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