Monique Frize

Monique Frize

Carleton University and University of Ottawa
(International), Canada
Monique Frize
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Born in Montreal, Monique Aubry studied in Ottawa, then in London England, Moncton New Brunswick, and Rotterdam in The Netherlands. Monique married Peter Frize in London and they have a son (Patrick Nicholas). Monique was a biomedical engineer in hospitals for 18 years and then a professor in biomedical and electrical engineering for 20 years. Monique loves reading and writing. Two books have been published so far: "The Bold and the Brave: A history of women in science and engineering". This spans some 2000 years of history and was published in 2009. The seocnd book is "Ethics for Bioengineers" and presents modern ethical issues in the age of robots, new body parts like prostheses, designer babies, etc.. It was published in 2011.

BASc Electrical Engineering (U. of Ottawa) M. Phil. Engineering in Medicine (Imperial College of Science and Technology (London UK) MBA Doctorate
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Dr. Monique Frize

There are pros and cons of doing an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering. The usual route for becoming a clinical engineer is a strong degree in electrical engineering with software and computer skills, as most medical devices are electrical (electronic) with much software added.. Coming from the biotechnology science degree is quite different. If your Master's degree was done after some remedial courses in electrical and computer engineering, then you could mention these skills in your job applications. If it did not, then I would suggest to ask clinical engineers (through ACCE, the American College of Clinical Engineers) what courses they would recommend after you explain what you did in the Master's program. 


Best wishes,

Monique Frize

There are many projects in biomedical engineering that require a chemichal engineering degree. An example is working on dialysis artificial kidney fibres and systems. You should take some courses in biomedical engineering from a University not far from where you are, if it exists. Alternately, you can do a Master's in biomedical with mechanical engineering as main field. You can ask the department of the university if your background fits or if you have to do a few remedial courses. 
Bottom line, it is never too late to do the engineering you want to do.. after all we spend a long time in the workplace and so we should enjoy what we do!
Good luck! and best wishes!


In all fields, there will be some employers who demonstrate discrimination in their hiring practices. However, there are also many firms who try to apply equity to their hiring process. The field of biomedical engineering has a good number of women compared to others and so employers should be quite used to see applications from women. 

If you see that the person has a negative attitude to hiring women, then I recommend to avoid applying or accepting a position in this firm. The culture will likely be poisoned and sexist. If you belong to a chapter of SWE (Society of Women Engineers), you will be able to network with other women and this may help you to find out which firms are good and which ones are not.  You have chosen a very interesting field. I have worked in it all my working life and enjoyed every position I have had over the years. Good luck for a successful career!

The best way to become a biomedical engineer without doing a full undergraduate degree. If your marks are adequate, you could apply to do a Master's in biomedical engineering. Check the programs where you would like to apply for the best fit for your undergraduate degree. For example, in the University of Ottawa in Canada, there is a Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The fact that these two fields are together makes it easier to fit a degree like yours. 

I am sure some other universities have a similar combination of fields. After 2 years or so, you could be a qualified biomedical engineer.


An undergraduate degree is a good step to find work in this field. However, a Master's certainly provides an advantage, not so much in terms of salary (although it should add to that too), but in terms of finding a more interesting job. A Master's degree teaches how to go more deeply into a problem, how to better identify a problem, research what is known about that. and how to find a good solution. The main point though to keep in mind is that before choosing a thesis topic and a supervisor, you need to search what is out there, and identify what aspects in this field you are most interested in.

Good luck for a successful completion of your studies!  

To decide on the best course to take, it would be important to check with the medical school you wish to apply to for their entrance requirements. If these are quite flexible and a regular engineering degree would be admissible (provided some courses are covered in the choice of options, perhaps biochemistry, biology, etc..) then that is a better choice as you have a degree and can get a job in case admission into medical school does not happen right away. The engineering degree should be in biomedical engineering with either electrical or mechanical as the engineering base as these choices have some connection with medicine.

Monique Frize 

While an engineer, there are several things that really thrilled me, so to select one best thing is not easy. Recently, my engineering research led to the application of infrared imaging (a camera measuring temperature on the body) to a few interesting medical problems:

  1. The camera can 'see' pain by looking at temperatures on the body that are not symmetrical. For example, in the legs or on the back, a cold or hot spot on one side would indicate less blood irrigation or a nerve route irritation.
  2. We can also identify if people have rheumatoid arthritis by measuring temperature of the knuckles. Other joints also show the presence of RA such as knees, ankles, elbows.
  3. Babies who develop NEC (Necrotising entero-colitis, which is an inflammation of the bowel which can be severe enough to cause death in premature infants.) We can actually measure temperature inequalities of the belly and identify babies who have and those who have not developed NEC.

My students and I have many other projects that are as exciting. Biomedical engineering is a very exciting field with many new developments using robotics, nanotechnology, genetics, etc...

Good luck with your studies and choice of career.

Monique Frize

Bioengineering is a field with good potential. However a Master's would likely add much to your chances of getting a job. I see the fields for a Master's program near you, and although not in biomedical, here is my suggestion:

Information technology would be my choice as many researchers (including myself) are developing clinical decision support systems and most of these are either knowledge based systems or pattern classification, and data mining, using all kinds of software tools that are available, many of them open-source..

I have always had a job in biomedical for just over 40 years and am still involved in research on medical imaging and on clinical decision support. The important matter is having a strong engineering degree and apply it to biomedical problems. Biomedical projects are frequently an applications of some engineering concepts, either electrical or mechanical.

When you finish the B Eng. try to enroll in a Master's that can be applied to solving a biomedical problem and perhaps you could have a co-supervisor from another university who is an expert in that area.. Today with the internet, much long distance work is possible.

Best wishes,

Monique Frize
Distinguished professor, Carleton University, Canada
PS If you go to google scholar and put my name, you will see several of the articles in the fields I mentioned to you.

Undergraduate programs differ with each College and University. Some of them offer a degree in biomedical with another major possible, others with a minor, and others just the main program of biomedical engineering. An example is Drexel University in Philadelphia. In Canada, (as at Carleton and University of Ottawa) students normally get a degree in biomedical engineering combined with a major such as electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or chemical engineering. Since biomedical programs contain a fair amount of physiology, medical devices, etc.. I think it is important to have a strong base in either an engineering discipline like electrical (which is my major) for focusing on medical devices; or mechanical if one is interested in rehabilitation and aids for the disabled. Computer science or computer engineering would provide a good background for medical informatics. So I suggest you look at the programs from a few colleges you are interested to apply to and decide how the program combines with your interests. Best wishes for a successful and satisfying career! Prof. Monique Frize, P. Eng., O.C. Carleton University and University of Ottawa

Dear Emily, as a biomedical engineer, I work on medical problems every day. Examples are: developing decision-aid systems that predict complications for newborn babies in critical care units, assessing the level of rheumatoid arthritis in patients using infrared cameras (that measure temperature, therefore level of inflammation), and seeing if the treatments are working. In 30 years, I have never had a boring day. You can combine engineering with medicine by doing a bachelor in biomedical engineering or doing an engineering undergraduate degree in electrical, computer or mechanical engineering, then a Master's degree in biomedical engineering. Many universities offer these programs. As for math and science: Engineering uses math and science to solve problems, so it is a good idea to study these subjects. One does not have to be a genius at these topics, but get a solid base to be able to work on problems. As an engineer, the math and science are not in my face every day. Mostly I use softwares and techniques that already exist and plan experiments that will answer a research question, analyse the results and make decisions on future development. Your mom is right, you seem to have what it takes to become an engineer. The main thing is to have a goal and go for it the best you can. Best wishes for a successful career! Monique Frize, P. Eng., O.C. Professor and researcher, Biomedical engineering Carleton University and University of Ottawa