Biological engineering integrates applied biology into the fundamental principles of engineering for the purpose of designing processes and systems that influence, control, or utilize biological materials and organisms for the benefit of society. The discipline applies the principles of analysis, synthesis, and design to physical problems and processing systems associated with plants, animals, and humans, and their environments.
The overall educational goal of the Biological Engineering Program is to educate biological engineering students to be technically and professionally competent and to meet the requirements for professional registration.
The specific educational objective is to produce engineering graduates with the attributes to use basic principles to synthesize and analyze biological and physical systems, and more specifically demonstrate that they have:
- an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering;
- an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data;
- an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs;
- an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams;
- an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems;
- an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility;
- an ability to communicate effectively;
- the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context;
- a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning;
- a knowledge of contemporary issues;
- an ability to use techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for the engineering practice.
The Biological Engineering (BE) curriculum includes the study of sciences (mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology), humanities (arts, economics, and social sciences), applied biology (organic chemistry, microbiology, and physiology), engineering sciences (statics, dynamics, strength of materials, fluid mechanics, electrical principles, and thermodynamics), and engineering design. Students can select technical and engineering electives that enable them to pursue specific career interests. Elective courses can also be used to complete the requirements for minor programs in electrical engineering, environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, occupational health and safety, surveying, or technical sales.
An undergraduate education in biological engineering is excellent preparation for graduate and professional studies in various fields of engineering (including biomedical engineering) and human or veterinary medicine. The curriculum teaches students the practical skills needed for professional engineering and the scientific understanding required to adapt to new situations.
Career opportunities in biological engineering include design, development, and implementation of technologies to recycle municipal waste and agricultural byproducts into viable sources of energy; systems to clean contaminated water and soil; equipment and procedures to prevent repetitive motion injuries; processing operations to ensure high quality foods; and machinery or sensors to be applied within human, animal, plant, and ecological systems. Graduates have the opportunity for local, national, or international work. Recent graduates are employed in large engineering firms, small consulting companies, and governmental agencies, or are pursuing graduate degrees.
A low student-to-faculty ratio in the department allows students to receive personal attention. Students also complete a senior design project that requires one-on-one direction from a faculty member. Numerous social activities with faculty, staff, and graduate students foster professional camaraderie that extends far beyond the classroom. Students may also gain professional insight and potential employment contacts through participation in a variety of national engineering and technical organizations.
The curriculum in biological engineering provides students with the skills needed to solve today’s problems, and the knowledge required to master the rapid changes in technology and address the problems of tomorrow. This curriculum, offered through the College of Engineering, is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org. Graduates are prepared to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam during their senior year, which is a first step for obtaining a Professional Engineering license.