Biological Engineering (BE) is a science-based engineering discipline that integrates engineering and biological sciences in one curriculum.
Biological engineers develop products and design systems or processes for improvement of human and animal heath, use of bioresources, and protection of the environment.
BE is a broad-based curriculum that prepares students for careers in three areas:
- Biomedical Engineering (including pre-medicine)
integrates physical, chemical or mathematical sciences and engineering principles for the study of biology, medicine and physiology. It advances fundamental concepts, creates knowledge from the molecular to the organ systems levels, and develops innovative biologics, materials, processes, implants, devices, and informatics approaches for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, for patient rehabilitation, and for improving health.
- Bioprocess Engineering
Involves the design and development of efficient and environmentally responsible systems to economically manufacture food, chemical and pharmaceutical products from renewable biological materials such as microbial, animal and plant cells, enzymes and appropriate by-products. The Bioprocess Engineering specialty encompasses food engineering, which covers processing, packaging and distribution of food, and is expanding into the manfacture of industrial products from renewable bio-resources. Bioprocess engineers play a key role in use of knowledge from the new biotechnology revolution to provide products that improve the quality of life, while preserving the environment through bioremediation and the abatement and proper use of wastes.
- Bioenvironmental Engineering
The application of engineering principles with natural systems to sustain and manage environmental quality through proper system design, construction and management. The Bioenvironmental Engineering specialty integrates physical, biological and environmental sciences with engineering skills to develop economical methods for improving water and air quality, wastewater treatment, water management and soil remediation. Using their combined skills of engineering, environmental sciences and biotechnology, bioenvironmental engineers are well-qualified to address the issues that contribute to improved quality of life while preserving our environment.
The Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering (BSBE) program at MU is accredited by the Engineering Commission of ABET. Graduates are well-prepared to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam during their senior year, which is the first step towards obtaining a Professional Engineer (PE) license.
The curriculum encompasses basic sciences (math, physics, chemistry, biochemistry and biology), social and behavioral sciences, humanities and fine arts, engineering sciences and topics (computer science, mechanics, thermodynamics), and program core courses.
The core courses cover topics of biological engineering principles and design, including bioenergetics, biosystem modeling, biomechanics, transport phenomena in biosystems, bioelectronics and instrumentation.
A capstone design course requires students to apply the knowledge and skills they have gained by completing a design project under the direction of a faculty adviser. Technical electives allow students to have an emphasis in one of the three areas (biomedical, bioprocess or bioenvironmental engineering).
BE Program Mission, Educational Objectives, and Student Outcomes
BE Program Mission
The department mission is to educate biological engineers to integrate engineering and biological sciences in the contexts of health, sustainability and environmental stewardship, thus preparing them for productive careers characterized by continual professional growth.
BE Program Educational Objectives
The undergraduate program leads to a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Engineering, producing graduates who will, within 3 to 5 years:
- Show proficiency in engineering analysis, design and development.
- Interact effectively with life science and other professionals.
- Integrate biological and engineering sciences for the design and development of innovative systems and processes for improved health, bio-resource utilization, and environmental protection.
- Exhibit professionalism as they continually add value to their chosen field of endeavor.
- Succeed in advanced study in engineering, medicine or veterinary medicine, if pursued.
BE Student Outcomes
By the time of graduation, BE students will possess:
- 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 within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability
- 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, economic, environmental, 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 the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice
- an ability to integrate engineering and biological sciences to develop systems and processes for improved health, bio-resource utilization, and environmental protection
Biological engineering is a relatively new branch of engineering education, but it has had a long history of practice in the industries of medicine, food, agriculture, environment protection, etc. In the past two decades, the advances in life sciences have led to the establishment of an entirely new industry of biotechnology, which is increasing the demand for biological engineers.
As a biological engineer, you will have engineering expertise related to biological systems. You may design systems and processes for medical applications, production of biologically derived products such as pharmaceuticals, or biological treatment of pollutants.
Or, you may develop new food and fiber products or products that efficiently use bioresources in an environmentally friendly manner. BE graduates are hired by biotechnology, medical, pharmaceutical, food, and agricultural companies and government agencies. Some attend graduate and medical schools.
Faculty often hire undergraduate students as research assistants. This provides hands-on experiences and broadens the education for students. Research projects are in various areas of biomedical, bioprocessing and bioenvironmental engineering.
Arrangements for research assistant positions are generally made through individual contacts between students and faculty. Students are encouraged to contact the faculty working in their areas of interest. In addition, some divisions of the University provide on-campus internships for students to participate in research activities.