Biological Engineering

Our Biological Engineering (BE) program is consistently highly ranked (#1 for over a decade) with a practical curriiculum providing excellent career opportunities in some of the most stable industries in the world. We believe our students will fill some of the most critically needed positions over the next 50 years - Your Career! - Read on to learn more about options in BE.

The world has tremendous need for solutions to problems related to the environment, energy, health, food, and sustainability. Biological systems are related to or at the heart of all of these issues. A Biological Engineer learns to design and analyze biological systems to develop innovative and practical solutions.   Our B.S. graduates are well prepared for careers in the food industry, pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology, and bioprocessing as well as entrance into graduate or medical school. Students may select a major and plan of study within biological engineering that is tailored to their specific career goal.

Cellular and Biomolecular Engineering

The Cellular and Biomolecular Engineering track is designed to provide students with an integrated training in engineering, physical sciences, and life sciences through course work in thermodynamics, mechanics, heat and fluid transport, mathematics, bioenergetics, biochemistry, physiology, genetics, molecular biology, and engineering design. Students will learn to use tools, either through computation and modeling or instrumentation and hardware to create and manipulate cells and cellular materials for a variety of applications relating to human, plant, and animal systems (e.g. pathological conditions relating to diseases, genotyping/phenotyping, protein processing, biomaterials, metabolic functions, and/or drug and gene delivery vehicles), food and water (food safety and nutrition, and water quality), soil systems (bioremediation, microbial communities etc), and bioenergy/biofuels (manipulating and handling cells for more efficient energy conversion alternatives), among others. Our goal is to better train undergraduates with a competitive advantage for a career in research through graduate studies in engineering/sciences or through employment in a biomedical, biotechnology, or a pharmaceutical company. This emerging field is expected to rapidly advance and open opportunities in biomanufacturing, drug design, human therapeutics, tissue and organ regeneration, bioenergy and biofuel production, bioremediation, and biodefense. 


Food and Biological Process Engineering

Food Process Engineering is an interdisciplinary field that applies the basic sciences, mathematics, and engineering to convert agricultural commodities into edible foods and biological materials through various processing steps. Food Process Engineers are involved with all phases of the food industry including research, product and process development, processing engineering, manufacturing, and marketing. This results in many career opportunities in industry, government, education and other related fields. The curriculum provides an excellent foundation to pursue graduate, law, and medical school.

Pharmaceutical Process Engineering




Bioprocess Engineering is rapidly becoming a critical forefront research area as advances in genetic engineering lead to new types of crops and new processing methods to create value added products. As a consequence, the department has a strong biochemical technology research program including biomass processing and bioenergy and renewable resources utilization. Research topics include bioenergy/renewable energy production, bioprocessing of biomass into biofuels, biochemicals, and biopolymers, biofuel utilization, bioreactor design and modeling, enzyme and biocatalysis development, metabolic engineering, and bioseparations.

Pre-Med Track

A degree in Biological Engineering is excellent preparation for medical school. With careful planning, the Biological Engineering plan of study can meet Pre-Med requirements without any additional credits, which is unique among engineering disciplines. The plan of study provides a rich background in the life sciences and meets the academic requirements for admission to most medical schools without any additional credits. The engineering degree builds skills that are critical for physicians including identification of societal needs, solving complex problems, designing rational solutions, and making decisions based on quantitative and qualitative data. Because biological engineers apply these skills to complex biological systems, this program gives students a strong advantage for success in medical school. In addition, many of our biological engineering students participate in undergraduate research, thus improving their preparation and readiness for M.D./Ph.D. programs. Finally, the accredited biological engineering degree provides pre-med students with other equally strong opportunities in industry and research as an alternative to medical school, should plans change.

Dual Degree - BS/MS - 5 Year

ABE has created a dual degree B.S./M.S. program for students who are interested in biological engineering and advanced biotechnology.  The plan of study integrates undergraduate research and laboratory experiences starting the sophomore year and is intended to prepare students for Ph.D. level graduate studies or research oriented industry positions. Students in the program will receive a B.S. degree in Biological Engineering and a M.S. degree in a research area within Biological Engineering. The program can be completed in as little as 5 years due to the early introduction of research into the undergraduate curriculum.  In addition, students will apply for graduate student status during their junior year and will then be eligible for graduate student funding after acceptance into the graduate school.

Dual Degree - Pharmaceutical Science or Biochemistry - 5 Year


Dual degree programs involving Biochemistry or Pharmaceutical Sciences result in two degrees, one in engineering and one in either biochemistry or pharmaceutical sciences.  This would require an additional year of courses.  These degrees are focused, intense programs of study targeted to provide graduates with unique skills and job opportunities to take on roles of technical leadership in biological engineering.

For example, genetic engineering of foods and pharmaceuticals is a target growth technology involving the manipulation of the genes of microbial, plant, insect and animal cells to alter their processing and product capacities. The dual degree programs are highly inter-disciplinary and prepare graduates with an excellent combination of scientific and engineering skills to work in industries involving state-of-the-art technologies such as genetic engineering.

Other Resources:

Biological Engineering Advising Information

The Institute of Biological Engineering (IBE) Newsletter

Focus on Biological Engineering - Resource Magazine Special Issue - Biological engineering is involved in nearly every area ASAE encompasses — both traditional and emerging. Our cover suggests some of the many facets of the profession and its unique capabilities which include the interface of engineering with biology. From multi-spectral image technology to autonomous robotic vehicles, modern high-tech ingenuity stems from the dedication and exacting stamina of researchers and engineers worldwide.

Discover Biological & Agricultural Engineering - ASABE Brochure - In the early twentieth century, even in industrialized countries, production of the world's food supply required the labor of at least half the population. Today, thanks in large part to advancements made by biological and agricultural engineers, developed countries can accomplish this using only a slim 2% of their populations. And engineering efforts have not been limited to food production: fiber, timber, and energy products, as well as the technologies, equipment, and precious natural resources required to produce them, have all benefited from the talents and vision of biological and agricultural engineers.