Biological/Biosystems Engineering

Overview of Biological/Biosystems Engineering

The goal of this discipline is to gain a better understanding of how biological systems operate on a molecular level.  Combining molecular life science with engineering will lead to a better understanding of how biological systems work.

A biological engineering degree is an interdisciplinary degree that focuses on understanding how living organisms can function. Gaining a better understanding of how biological systems operate will lead to new breakthroughs in biotechnology.  These breakthroughs can lead to new and innovative ways to fight, treat, and prevent disease.  Advances in biotechnology will allow industries to design and create new, more environmentally friendly materials.  We are impacted today by biological engineering in gene manipulation in the food industry.  The goal of this discipline is to create a better interaction between living systems through understanding how they operate.

Curriculum for Biological/Biosystems Engineering

Because biological engineering is an interdisciplinary area of study, course work may vary depending on the program.  Some courses students may encounter are similar but not limited to:

  • General Chemistry
  • Calculus and Analytic Geometry
  • Basic Communication
  • Introduction to Engineering
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Introductory Organic Chemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering Design
  • Animal Biology
  • Dynamics
  • General Physics
  • Biomedical Engineering Design
  • Introduction to Biomedical Instrumentation
  • Circuit Analysis
  • Computer Programming
  • Biomechanics
  • Physiology
  • Technical Communication

Biological engineering is an interdisciplinary area of study meaning that it is sometimes a sub-discipline.  This also means that students will take courses in two different disciplines with a heavier focus in one. In this case, students’ main focus will be in biology and science with a solid background in engineering theory and principles as well as a few advanced math courses.  It is very important to stay on top of what classes are required and what classes meet one’s elective requirements.  Because this degree is often an interdisciplinary degree, it can be hard to keep track of what must be taken from both disciplines.  Checking in with your advisor on a regular basis is a great way to stay on track.

How to Enroll in Biological/Biosystems Engineering

Some postsecondary colleges and universities have differing names for this degree which include but are not limited to: bioengineering, biological systems engineering and some schools house similar degrees as sub-disciplines under their biotechnology studies.  Most Bachelor’s degrees can be completed in four years with some colleges and universities offering courses in both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees online.  If you decide to take online college courses, make sure and get a point of contact at the school of your choosing so you have a live person who can help you with getting internships, course selection and can give advice on research projects.

The most common graduate degrees following this program are a Master’s in Biological engineering, a Doctorate degree in biological engineering, a Master’s in biomechanics, and a PhD in biomedical engineering and imaging. 

Benefits and Rewards of Biological/Biosystems Engineering

This type of degree program is a great fit for someone with a passion for environmental science as well as an interest in medicine or alternative fuel and technologies.  It is also a discipline that requires a great deal of problem solving.  This degree program can train one to research alternative biofuels or biotechnology in the medical industry.  This would give a person the ability to make a difference in both peoples’ lives and the environment.

Job Opportunities in Biological/Biosystems Engineering

Biological engineering is a fast growing industry that has employment opportunities in both public and private sectors.  Private companies hiring biological engineers include but are not limited to: Accenture, Archer Daniel Midland, Brown and Caldwell, Cargill, Greenhorne and O’Mara, Habitat Assessment and Restoration Inc.

Hiring in the public sector also includes but is not limited to: Army Corp of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, USDA Agriculture Research Service, USDA Forest Service, 
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The starting salary for someone with a Bachelor’s degree in biological engineering was $54,352 as of July 2009.

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