Department of Biological Engineering

Ching-An Peng, Dept. Chair (421 Engineering/Physics Bldg. 83844-0904; phone 208/885-7461; fax 208/885-7908;; Faculty: Brian He, Bryn Martin, Russell J. Qualls, Nathan R. Schiele, Dev S. Shrestha, Xiao Wu.

Biological engineers integrate engineering principles with biological systems to develop new technologies and solutions to address societal needs. For example, biological engineers improve environmental quality, engineer bacteria to produce value-added products, develop equipment to harvest and process food, and design/manufacture medical devices. Given the diversity of the biological engineering discipline, biological engineers find themselves working in a variety of fields including bioprocessing, bioenergy, environmental, food production, agricultural, pharmaceutical, and biomedical. This diverse expertise makes biological engineers exceptionally valuable in today’s challenging world.

The departmental mission is teaching, research, and extension to produce sustainable solutions for engineering problems in agriculture, energy, environment, and medicine through application and integration of the biological, chemical and physical sciences. The educational objectives for the B.S. degree in Biological Engineering are:

  1. Learn and Integrate: Graduates will be proficient engineering problem solvers capable of identifying, formulating, and solving engineering problems by applying their knowledge of mathematics, engineering, and appropriate bioprocessing, biomedical, biochemical, environmental, and agricultural topics.
  2. Think and create: Graduates will be effective engineers who can apply their skills to design systems, components, and processes to solve engineering problems for an ever-changing world.
  3. Communicate: Graduates will be effective written and verbal communicators, and productive team members.
  4. Clarify purpose and perspective: Graduates will have a strong professional identity with a keen awareness of their professional and ethical responsibility, and practice lifelong learning.
  5. Practice Citizenship: Graduates will design for advancement and sustainability of their local, national and global communities protecting human health and safety, and practicing environmental stewardship.

Courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics prepare students for more advanced courses in transport processes, bio-based products, bioenergy, biomedical engineering, bioprocessing, and sustainability. Much of our students’  education takes place in labs: explore water flow and quality and use in the water resources lab and the field, make discoveries about renewable energy in the advanced biofuel lab, design controls and instruments in the power lab, analyze medical images in the neurophysiology lab, and operate bioreactors in cell and tissue engineering lab.

The Biological Engineering curriculum is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET 111 Market Place, Suite 1050, Baltimore, MD 21202-4012, ph. 410-347-7700. Students in this program are eligible to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Examination prior to graduation and to become registered professional engineers after graduating and completing an experience requirement. Assessment of departmental objectives is accomplished by monitoring performance of students on the FE examination and by student interviews. All graduates are interviewed at the time of graduation by the department to evaluate concerns, opportunities, and effectiveness of its educational programs. The assessment statistics can be obtained from the departmental office.

The graduate program is offered in Biological Engineering with specialization in bio-based products, biofuels, biomaterials, bioprocessing, biotechnology, cell/tissue engineering, climate modeling, environmental impact assessment, gene/drug delivery, liquid plasma technology, nanotechnology, neural imaging, precision agriculture, waste water treatment, and water management. The graduate degrees offered in Biological Engineering are Master of Science (thesis), Master of Engineering (non-thesis) and Ph.D. Prospective students should have the equivalent of a B.S. degree in engineering and science.


See the course description section for courses in Biological Engineering (BE).