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Biological Engineering

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Undergrad Degree: BS

Biological Engineering is at the intersection of three great challenges facing humanity today: ensuring an adequate and safe food supply in an era of expanding world population; protecting and restoring the world's natural resources, including soil, air and energy; and developing engineering systems that monitor, replace or intervene in the mechanisms of living organisms. The undergraduate Engineering Program in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering has a clear focus on biological systems, including the environment, that is realized through a combination of fundamental engineering sciences, biology, application courses and liberal studies. The program leads to a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Engineering and is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of ABET.

Seven focus areas in Biological Engineering are offered: Molecular and Cellular Systems, Ecological and Microbial Systems, Nanobiotechnology, Systems and Computational Biology, Synthetic Biology, Biomaterials, and Sustainability. In each, students take courses in mathematics, computing, physics, chemistry, basic and advanced biology, fundamental engineering sciences (mechanics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, materials, and transport processes), engineering applications, and design. Students select applications courses in the department areas that include bioprocessing, soil and water management, bioenvironmental and facilities engineering, bioinstrumentation, engineering aspects of animal physiology, environmental systems analysis, and waste treatment and disposal. Students select other courses in the College of Engineering that strengthen their focus area, such as environmental engineering or biomedical engineering. Students planning for medical school also take organic chemistry. Emphasis is placed on developing communications and teamwork skills.

Many undergraduates participate in teaching assistantships, research assistantships, design teams, Engineering Co-op, and study abroad. Students should have a strong aptitude for the sciences and mathematics and an interest in the complex social issues that surround technology.

Career opportunities are in private industry, public agencies, and educational institutions. Recent graduates work in environmental consulting, biotechnology, the pharmaceutical industry, biomedical engineering, management consulting, and international agriculture. Many students pursue graduate study in engineering, science, medicine or law.

The living world is all around us and within us. The biological revolution of this past century has given rise to a growing demand for engineers who have studied biology and the environment, who have strong math and science skills, who can communicate effectively, and who appreciate the challenges facing society. The Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering is training the next generation of engineers to meet these challenges.