Cross-Campus Collaboration Unlocks Health Systems M.Eng. Pathway

For students interested in becoming leaders who are capable of solving complex engineering problems in health-focused industries, a new degree pathway has opened up through a  collaboration between Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell’s Ithaca campus.

The Department of Population Health Sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine and the Systems Engineering program in Cornell Engineering have teamed up to create a Health Systems Engineering pathway in the existing Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) program offered by Systems Engineering.

“When I heard about this concept for the first time, I knew it was a winner,” said Emmanuel Giannelis, the director of Cornell’s Engineering Innovations in Medicine initiative, which launched in 2022 to accelerate connections between the two campuses. “It is amazing how quickly the team has turned this concept into a reality, which indicates that we’re doing something together that meets a real need.”

Cornell Engineering’s M.Eng. programs can typically be completed in as few as two semesters and provide students with a professional degree that can be leveraged to increase their professional opportunities and growth. The Systems Engineering program equips engineers with the broad expertise and perspective necessary to address interconnected problems with solutions that are sustainable, responsible and achievable. It has provided distance learning programs, often an ideal option for working professionals, for more than 16 years.

The new Health Systems Engineering pathway is offered either on the Ithaca campus or through distance learning. To earn their degree, students complete interdisciplinary Systems Engineering core courses as well as selected pre-approved electives, such as Healthcare Data Management and Analysis, Clinical Natural Language Processing, or AI for Healthcare Systems Engineering.

“As world leaders in medicine and systems engineering, as well as in professional education and research, this partnership feels like a natural step to meet societal needs,” said Jyotishman Pathak, the Frances and John L. Loeb Professor of Medical Informatics at Weill Cornell Medicine. “The health systems engineering field – in which the needs of multiple stakeholders are balanced against emerging new technology and evolving societal impacts – is one in which graduates of this program can have a huge impact.”

All students in the pathway also take part in a healthcare-focused project developed around real-world challenges with real-world stakeholders.

"Our intention through this collaboration is to make the work our students do while they are enrolled in the program — and are prepared to do after graduation — as impactful as possible,” said Clifford Whitcomb, professor of practice in Systems Engineering. “Our transdisciplinary educational program will provide students with three key elements: a deep understanding of health systems, a strong quantitative engineering foundation, and hands-on clinical experience.”

Prospective students and future health industry leaders can already apply to this cross-campus, interdisciplinary program. The Health Systems Engineering M. Eng. pathway is accepting applications for the fall 2024 semester until May 31, and for the 2025 spring semester until Dec. 1, 2024.

“Collaborations with systems engineering students and faculty have introduced systems principles to the analysis of the complex healthcare landscape,” said Yiye Zhang, associate professor of population health sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine. “The synergy between systems engineering and health informatics will allow new perspectives for understanding current challenges and facilitating innovations.”

This article originally appeared in Cornell Chronicle.

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