Biological Engineering Major

Biological Engineering students learn to combine the power of engineering principles and techniques with the rapidly developing science of biology.  Students learn to integrate engineering and biology to solve local, national and global challenges such as; ensuring safe and sustainable food and energy supplies, protecting natural resources, developing devices to monitor or intervene in the mechanisms of living organisms, and using biological materials in new and innovative ways.

Students graduate from the program with a thorough grounding in engineering fundamentals and a broad grasp of modern biology enabling them to keep pace with future advances.  Biological engineering problem solving and design is emphasized.  Students build on a base of seven core BE courses and select from a wide range of electives. Opportunities to practice the soft skills of teamwork and technical communication needed in the modern engineering workplace are found throughout the program.

The BE program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org.  Students may seek engineering professional licensing after graduation.

Focus Areas

  • Molecular and Cellular Systems
  • Nanobiotechnology
  • Ecological and Microbial Systems
  • Synthetic Biology
  • Biomaterials
  • Sustainability
  • Modeling and Simulation

Employment Fields

  • pharmaceuticals
  • healthcare
  • health administration & policy
  • biotechnology
  • financial, and consumer products industries
  • environmental consulting
  • medicine
  • general business
  • research

What recent graduates are doing

  • Biotechnology and Public Health: drug development and delivery, developing diagnostic and research tools, biosecurity
  • Environment: monitoring and controlling water pollution, turning waste streams into renewable products
  • Energy: developing sustainable biofuel systems, optimizing capture and storage devices
  • Food and Agriculture: quality control, sensors for food safety, improved nutrient delivery
  • Consumer Products: quality control, safety, development of cosmetics
  • National Institutes of Health:  Intramural Research Training Fellow

Sample Classes

BEE 3600 Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering

Biotechnology viewed at the cellular and molecular level. Advances in biotechnology will be broken down to their functional parts using the tools of biological engineering (thermodynamics, transport, kinetics, etc.) to understand how and why they work with an emphasis on design. Particular attention paid to gene therapy, synthetic biology, protein engineering, and nucleic acid engineering.

BEE 3500 Biological and Bioenvironmental Transport Processes

Focuses on understanding the principles of heat and mass transfer in the context of biological systems. Emphasizes physical understanding of transport processes and simple reaction rates with application examples from plant, animal and human biology, in the bioenvironment (soil/water/air) and industrial processing of food and biomaterials.

BEE 4550 Biologically Inspired Microsystems Engineering

This course covers fundamental mechanisms that nature uses to build and control living systems at micro- and nano- meter length scales; engineering principles for fabricating micro/nanometer scale devices; examples of solving contemporary problems in health sector and environment.  The lab sessions will provide students with hands on experiences in cell culture, microfluidic device and live cell imaging techniques.

    More about Biological Engineering from the Department