Biological systems engineering or biosystems engineering is a broad-based engineering discipline with particular emphasis on biology and chemistry. It can be thought of as a subset of the broader notion of biological engineering, though not in the respects that pertain to biomedical engineering as biosystems engineering tends to focus less on medical applications than on agriculture, ecosystems, and food science. It involves aspects of genetic engineering, particularly regarding the agricultural applications. The discipline focuses broadly on environmentally sound and sustainable engineering solutions to meet societies' ecologically-related needs. Biosystems engineering integrates the expertise of fundamental engineering fields with expertise from non-engineering disciplines.

Some biological molecular machines

Background and organization

Many college and university biological engineering departments have a history of being grounded in agricultural engineering and have only in the past two decades or so changed their names to reflect the movement towards more diverse biological based engineering programs.[1][2] This major is sometimes called agricultural and biological engineering, biological and environmental engineering, etc., in different universities, generally reflecting interests of local employment opportunities.

Since biological engineering covers a wide spectrum, many departments now offer specialization options. Depending on the department and the specialization options offered within each program, curricula may overlap with other related fields. There are a number of different titles for BSE-related departments at various universities. The professional societies commonly associated with many Biological Engineering programs include the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE)[3] and the Institute of Biological Engineering (IBE),[4] which generally encompasses BSE. Some program also participate in the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) [5] and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).[6]

A biological systems engineer has a background in what both environmental engineers and biologists do, thus bridging the gap between engineering and the (non-medical) biological sciences – although this is variable across academic institutions.[citation needed] For this reason, biological systems engineers are becoming integral parts of many environmental engineering firms, federal agencies, and biotechnology industries. A biological systems engineer will often address the solution to a problem from the perspective of employing living systems to enact change. For example, biological treatment methodologies can be applied to provide access to clean drinking water [7] or for sequestration of carbon dioxide.[8]


Academic programs in agricultural and biological systems engineering

Below is a listing of known academic programs that offer bachelor's degrees (B.S. or B.S.E.) in what ABET terms "agricultural engineering", "biological systems engineering", "biological engineering", or similarly named programs. ABET accredits college and university programs in the disciplines of applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology.

North America

Institution Department Web site
Auburn University Biosystems Engineering www.eng.auburn.edu/
CalPoly San Louis Obispo BioResource and Agricultural Engineering www.brae.calpoly.edu/
Clemson University Biosystems Engineering [1]
Cornell University Biological and Environmental Engineering bee.cornell.edu/
Dalhousie University Department of Engineering (Agricultural Campus) www.dal.ca
Florida A&M University Biological Systems Engineering [2]
Iowa State University Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering www.abe.iastate.edu/
Kansas State University Biological and Agricultural Engineering www.bae.ksu.edu/home
Louisiana State University Biological and Agricultural Engineering www.bae.lsu.edu
McGill University Department of Bioresource Engineering www.mcgill.ca/bioeng/
Michigan State University Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering www.egr.msu.edu/bae/
Mississippi State University Agricultural and Biological Engineering www.abe.msstate.edu
North Carolina State University Biological and Agricultural Engineering www.bae.ncsu.edu/
North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University Chemical, Biological and Bioengineering Department www.ncat.edu/
North Dakota State University Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering www.ndsu.edu/aben/
Ohio State University Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering fabe.osu.edu
Oklahoma State University Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering biosystems.okstate.edu
Oregon State University Biological & Ecological Engineering Department bee.oregonstate.edu/
Penn State University Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering abe.psu.edu/
Purdue University Agricultural and Biological Engineering www.purdue.edu/abe
South Dakota State University Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering www.sdstate.edu/abe/
Texas A&M University Biological and Agricultural Engineering baen.tamu.edu/
University of Arizona Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering cals.arizona.edu/abe
University of Arkansas Biological and Agricultural Engineering www.baeg.uark.edu/
University of California, Davis Biological and Agricultural Engineering bae.engineering.ucdavis.edu/
University of California, San Diego Bioengineering: BioSystems be.ucsd.edu/biosystems
University of Florida Agricultural and Biological Engineering www.abe.ufl.edu/
University of Georgia Agricultural Engineering / Biological Engineering www.engr.uga.edu
University of Idaho Biological and Agricultural Engineering uidaho.edu/
University of Illinois Agricultural and Biological Engineering abe.illinois.edu/
University of Kentucky Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering jokko.bae.uky.edu/BAEHome.asp
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Biological Systems Engineering bse.unl.edu
University of Manitoba Biosystems Engineering http://umanitoba.ca/
University of Minnesota Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering www.bbe.umn.edu/
University of Missouri Biological Engineering bioengineering.missouri.edu/
University of Saskatchewan Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science www.engr.usask.ca
University of Tennessee Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science bioengr.ag.utk.edu
University of Wisconsin Biological Systems Engineering bse.wisc.edu/
Utah State University Biological Engineering be.usu.edu
Virginia Polytechnic University Biological Systems Engineering www.bse.vt.edu
Washington State University Biological Systems Engineering bsyse.wsu.edu

Central and South America

Institution Department Web site
Universidad Autónoma Chapingo, Mexico Irrigation Department portal.chapingo.mx/irrigacion/
National University of Colombia Agricultural Engineering www.ing.unal.edu.co/
University of Campinas, Brazil Agricultural Engineering www.unicamp.br/unicamp/[permanent dead link]
University of São Paulo, Brazil Biosystems Engineering www.en.esalq.usp.br/


Institution Department Web site
Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain Biosystems Engineering [3]
Ankara University, Turkey Agricultural Machinery arsiv.ankara.edu.tr
Atatürk University, Turkey Agricultural Structures and Irrigation www.atauni.edu.tr
Harran University, Turkey Agricultural Machinery ziraat.harran.edu.tr
Harran University, Turkey Agricultural Structures and Irrigation ziraat.harran.edu.tr
Leibniz University Hannover, Germany Biosystems and Horticultural Engineering, http://www.bgt-hannover.de/
KU Leuven, Belgium Department of Biosystems www.biw.kuleuven.be/biosyst
University College Dublin, Ireland Biosystems Engineering www.ucd.ie/eacollege/biosystems/
University of Hohenheim, Germany Institute of Agricultural Engineering www.uni-hohenheim.de/
Hamburg University of Technology, Germany Institute of Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering www.tuhh.de


Institution Department Web site
China Agricultural University Agricultural Engineering english.cau.edu.cn/col/col5470/index.html
Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, China Agricultural Soil and Water Engineering en.nwsuaf.edu.cn/
Shanghai Jiaotong University, China Biological Engineering; Food Science and Engineering en.sjtu.edu.cn/academics/undergraduate-programs/
Xi’an Jiaotong University, China Energy and Power Engineering nd.xjtu.edu.cn/web/English.htm
Yunnan Agricultural University, China Agricultural Water-Soil Engineering www.at0086.com/YUNNAU
Zhejiang University, China Biosystems Engineering and Food Science www.caefs.zju.edu.cn/en/index.asp

See also


  1. ^ For example the Department of Biological Systems Engineering Archived 2004-04-01 at the Wayback Machine. at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University was established as agricultural engineering in 1920, and renamed in 1992 to reflect new focus areas in the teaching, research and extension programs.
  2. ^ The Department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln began within Mechanical Engineering, awarded its first degree in Agricultural Engineering in 1908, and changed its name to Biological Systems Engineering in 1990. http://engineering.unl.edu/bse/history/
  3. ^ Website American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
  4. ^ Website Institute of Biological Engineers
  5. ^ Website Biomedical Engineering Society,
  6. ^ Website American Institute of Chemical Engineers,
  7. ^ Website http://www.jbioleng.org/content/5/1/2/ Biological approaches for addressing the grand challenge of providing access to clean drinking water
  8. ^ Website http://www.jbioleng.org/content/5/1/14/ Addressing the Grand Challenge of atmospheric carbon dioxide: geologic sequestration vs. biological recycling

Further reading

External links