As part of former Governor Paul Patton’s higher education initiative in 1998, the University of Louisville began the Challenge for Excellence to expand and enhance research in order to “become a premier, nationally-recognized metropolitan research university.” In addition, local businesses commissioned consultants to recommend the means to improve competitiveness and they found that the local infrastructure is in place for Louisville to be competitive in the biomedical and biotechnology industries. In response to these initiatives, Speed School made bioengineering its first priority and has demonstrated its commitment to developing a nationally recognized bioengineering program by establishing the seventh department in the college, the Department of Bioengineering, in 2004. The Master of Engineering bioengineering program supports the educational and research goals of the University and the Speed School of Engineering by providing a formal structure for educating students in bioengineering and attracting faculty with the ability to establish multidisciplinary research programs with faculty on both the Belknap and the Health Sciences campuses.
In June 2005, the J.B. Speed School of Engineering faculty approved the curriculum for the integrated, five-year Bachelor of Science (B.S.) – Master of Engineering (M.Eng) degree programs in Bioengineering. A month later, the University of Louisville Board Of Trustees approved the curriculum and, in the Fall of 2005, the Department of Bioengineering welcomed its first class of students.