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Forty Years of Bioengineering at UTA

Bioengineering 40th Anniversary

The Department of Bioengineering at The University of Texas at Arlington celebrated 40 years of bioengineering on campus in 2014. The College of Engineering hosted a luncheon of former deans and guests, a poster session, and a reception with cake and punch to commemorate the milestone.

Campus Leaders

UTA Chairmen
  • Alfred Potvin, Founder, 1971-84
  • Robert Eberhart, Joint UTA & UTSW, 1984-2001
  • Khosrow Behbehani, 2001-13, Founder of Dept., 2005-13
  • Liping Tang, 2013-15
  • Michael Cho, 2015-present
UTSW Chairmen
  • David Mishelevich, Co-Founder, 1971-73
  • John Watson, Co-Founder, 1973-75
  • Ernest Stokely, 1975-83
  • Robert Eberhart, 1984-2000
  • Harold "Skip" Garner, 2000-2001
  • Peter Antich, 2001-09
  • Edward Livingston, 2009-12
  • Matthew Petroll, 2012-present
UTA Early Faculty (1971-85)
  • John Axe, Biomechanics
  • George V. Kondraske, Bioinstrumentation
  • Alan Tencer, Biomechanics (UTA and UTSW)
  • Wolf von Maltzahn, Bioinstrumentation
UTSW Early Faculty (1971-85)
  • Gunnar Blomquist, Pulmonary physiology
  • Herbert Hagler, Electron microscopy
  • Robert Johnson, Pulmonary physiology
  • Robert Lebovitz, Radiation physiology
  • Jere Mitchell, Cardiovascular physiology
  • Vert Mooney, Orthopedic Surgery
  • William Romans, Bioinstrumentation
  • Gordon Templeton, Cardiovascular physiology
  • Donald Twieg, Radiological imaging
  • John Vanatta, Renal physiology

Early History of Bioengineering at UTA

In spring 1974, The University of Texas at Arlington and The University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Dallas (now UT Southwestern, UTSW) launched the first joint graduate degree biomedical engineering program (BME) in Texas, and perhaps the USA. Forty years later, the program has grown to a full-fledged bioengineering (BE) department at UTA.

BE Chairs Potvin, Behbehani, and Tang, as well as former UTSW chair Ernie Stokely and current UT Dallas chair Matt Petroll

BE Chairs Potvin, Behbehani, and Tang, as well as former UTSW chair Ernie Stokely and current UTSW chair Matt Petroll

The bond with UTSW remains a key part of the department. As stated in the 1971 proposal, "the proposed program .... coordinates certain research and teaching activities in several departments: UTA in the engineering and physical sciences, and UTHSCD in the medical sciences .... and will bring together the interdisciplinary interests of a wide group of active investigators and clinicians."

Prior to BME degree approval, early students earned course credits and degrees (B.S. and M.S.) in the Electrical, Mechanical, Industrial, and Materials Science and Engineering Departments. Three undergraduate courses - BME Laboratory, Introduction to BME and Selected Topics in BME - were offered in 1974. Ten BME courses were offered, beginning in 1975, including: Neuropsychological Systems Analysis, Bio-electric Phenomena, Cardio-Pulmonary Dynamics, Biomechanics, Surgical Laboratory, Hospital Internship, and BME Instrumentation Lab.

Students enjoy a reception during the BE Department's 40th anniversary celebration.

Students enjoy a reception during the BE Department's 40th anniversary celebration.

Dr. Al Potvin recruited faculty and the first graduate student class in 1975. Professors John Axe, Wolf von Maltzahn, and Alan Tencer joined Potvin as the first faculty. At UTHSCD, Ernest Stokely in the Radiology Department initiated coordination of faculty, staff, and courses, and admission of students.

In 1984, Potvin left for a senior medical devices position at Eli Lilly. He was succeeded as UTA Chairman by Bob Eberhart of the UTSW Surgery Department, who also served as UTSW BME Chairman. In 2001, Eberhart was succeeded as Chairman at UTA by Khosrow Behbehani. Liping Tang was named interim Chairman in 2013 after Behbehani became Dean of Engineering, and Michael Cho became chair in 2015.

The process to elevate BME to department status was initiated by Behbehani and Charles Chuong. The program was approved as a Department in 2005. Further growth occurred when the department added an undergraduate degree in fall 2012. Enrollment for the undergraduate program was double the original forecast, and steady growth has continued.