The College of Health Sciences at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and the adjacent Mulago National Referral Hospital have partnered to form one of the handful of Bachelor’s degree granting programs in Biomedical Engineering (BME) in all of Africa. MUK matriculated its first class of BME undergraduates in 2011, and in 2016 awarded its first BSc degrees in BME to 19 students. A significant challenge to MUK is the severe understaffing of BME instructors, relying heavily on volunteers and ad hoc teaching assignments. The only way for the MUK program to become sustainable is to build the BME teaching staff to a minimum of four full time lecturers.
The gateway degree to the position of Lecturer at MUK is the Master’s of Science. Although plans are in place at MUK for offering graduate degrees in BME, the program is no where near that capability at present. To address this need the Duke-MUK BME Scholar Award Program was created to support the total costs for six MUK BME graduates to study for the Master’s of Science in BME at Duke University. Each award spans three full academic semesters and the intervening summer months. Upon completion of their degree, each scholar is expected to return to MUK and teach a full load of classes in the BME curriculum for a minimum of three full semesters.
The first two Duke-MUK BME Scholars will matriculate in August 2016, followed by two subsequent cohorts of two scholars each. These scholars will spend their first two semesters on the Duke campus completing 24 course credits in BME, biomedical science, and global health with a focus in biomedical instrumentation and health diagnostics that are the most critical biomedical engineering concerns in Uganda for the foreseeable future. They will also use these two semesters to identify and begin working on their dissertation. The students then return to MUK during the summer months. The following fall term will be spent completing their final 6 credits at MUK in the form of their Master’s dissertation.