UNO Department of Biomechanics offers new master’s program

Photo by Charlotte Reilly

Charlotte Reilly

Dr. Nicholas Stergiou, chair of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) Department of Biomechanics, learned the biomechanics master’s program was approved Sept. 11.

UNO is one of a handful of schools that offer a master’s in biomechanics. The department already has bachelor’s and Ph.D. programs.

Stergiou shared his excitement on Facebook, saying “Great News!!!! We got our Masters in Biomechanics all approved today!!! It took almost two years to go through all levels of approval but we got it. It is official as we just cleared the last level of approval! I am very happy!”

First, the program had to be approved within the department, then the college, then the graduate counsel, and so on. After it was approved by multiple levels, the program was brought before the Commission of Secondary Education, where it was approved Sept. 11.

“We had students waiting to jump in,” Stergiou said, “We recruited people, promising there would be a master’s in biomechanics.”

The department is already offering master’s courses, even though the program was just recently approved.

“We thought it would be approved this summer, so we already had the courses ready in the fall,” Stergiou said.

Biomechanics students study movement in living organisms. In addition to biostatistics and biomechanics classes, master’s students take graduate level engineering, motor and mathematics classes.

“I think the new program will be great as it will allow us to focus specifically on biomechanics and learn material which will directly apply to our research,” said Joel Sommerfeld, a biomechanics graduate research assistant. “In conjunction with the specific classes and new facilities the quality and type of research that is going to be conducted will be able to reach another level.”

The Department of Biomechanics is able to 3D print body parts, like hands and spines, to help patients lives.

“We have the tools to materialize the dreams of Da Vinci,” Stergiou said. “It’s mind-boggling what we can do.”

A degree in biomechanics improves students’ chances of getting into professional schools, like medical school.

“When you look at several professional schools: physical therapy, podiatry, occupational therapy, all of those have a heavy amount of biomechanical research,” Stergiou said. “So, the masters can help them get in.”

Stergiou pioneered the department in 1996. He started his career at UNO in a 900 square feet laboratory with one graduate assistant. Now, he has an office the size of his original laboratory. The biomechanics building is 23,000 square feet and an additional 30,000 square feet is being added.

“I feel like I’m a surfer and I’ve caught the perfect wave,” Stergiou said.

Stergiou, who is originally from Greece, feels grateful for the support he has received from Nebraska.

“I’ve been embraced and loved all of these years,” Stergiou said. “With the success of the department, I am paying Nebraskans back.”