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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 goal of the Biological Engineering degree program is to educate biological engineering students to be technically and professionally competent and to meet the requirements for professional registration/practice.
Consistent with our departmental mission statement and the College of Engineering mission, program educational objectives include producing graduates who will:
- Effectively practice engineering in biological systems (plants, animals, humans, microbes and their environments) with demonstrated proficiency in basic engineering skills, technical knowledge, and professional and personal skills.
- Address current and future challenges in biological engineering through life-long learning, professional and ethical contributions to society, and sustained accomplishment.
- Obtain graduate and/or professional degrees at notable universities in biological and agricultural engineering, biomedical engineering, medicine, law, business, or other related disciplines.
In terms of student learning outcomes, the biological engineering program produces graduates who are prepared to enter the professional practice of biological engineering with:
- an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
- an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
- an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
- an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
- an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
- an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
- an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies
The Biological Engineering (BE) curriculum includes the study of sciences (mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology), liberal arts (arts, humanities, and social sciences), applied biology (organic chemistry, microbiology, and biochemistry), engineering sciences (statics, dynamics, strength of materials, fluid mechanics, electrical principles, and thermodynamics), and engineering design. Students learn to solve problems at the intersection of biology and engineering using the aforementioned areas. Students select a technical elective and three engineering design 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, robotics, surveying, or technical sales.
Career opportunities in biological engineering include the design, development, and implementation of technologies applied to biological systems, for example, designing systems to clean contaminated environments, equipment and procedures to prevent repetitive motion injuries, processing operations to create biological products like foods or pharmaceuticals, and the development of machinery or sensors to be applied within human, animal, plant, and ecological systems. Graduates have the opportunity for local, national, or international work.
An undergraduate education in biological engineering is an excellent preparation for graduate studies in various fields of engineering (including biomedical engineering), as well as professional schools including medical school, veterinary or dental school, law school, public health, and business administration. Recent graduates are employed in large engineering firms, small consulting companies, and governmental agencies, or are pursuing graduate or professional degrees.
A low student-to-faculty ratio in the department allows students to receive personal attention; several biological engineering courses are certified by the university as communication intensive courses, and service-learning courses, which enable students to enhance their oral, written, visual, and technological communication skills, and to develop community engagement skills respectively, within their engineering studies. Students also complete a 2-semester long senior design project, in which they work in teams with a faculty advisor to design and build a solution to an engineering problem. 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 rapid changes in technology that will enable them to 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.