Jul 23, 2019  
2019-2020 General Catalog 
2019-2020 General Catalog

Biological Engineering

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Department Head: D. Keith Roper
Location: Engineering 402
Phone: (435) 797-2576
WWW: http://www.be.usu.edu

Undergraduate Advising:

Engineering Advising Center, Engineering 314A, (435) 797-2705, katherine.grover@usu.edu

Degrees offered: Bachelor of Science (BS), Master of Science (MS), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Biological Engineering

Graduate areas of interest: Bioprocessing; Biofuels; Biomedical; Synthetic Biomanufacturing; Synthetic Biology; Computational Biology; Biophotonics; Sustainable Energy; Biosensing; Metabolic Engineering; Tissue Engineering

Full Details of the learning objectives, assessment plan, student outcomes, and evidence of continuous improvement for these programs of study can be found at be.usu.edu/assessment/undergraduate/nwccu-undergrad for undergraduate programs and be.usu.edu/assessment/graduate/nwccu-graduate for graduate programs.


The mission of the Department of Biological Engineering is to teach students preparing to become biological engineers how to apply engineering principles and the knowledge of biological sciences to the design, test, control, and analysis of biological-engineered systems. The department prepares students for entry into biological engineering, and related professions and/or to pursue advanced degrees in engineering and related fields.

Program Educational Objectives

Program Educational Objectives describe what graduates of the Biological Engineering program are expected to attain within a few years of graduation.

The Biological Engineering Program Educational Objectives are:

1. Graduates of the program will advance in careers and opportunities in Biological Engineering and related fields and professions based on a solid educational background in appropriate engineering, mathematics, physical/life sciences, and general studies including communication and ethics.

2. Graduates of the program will pursue advanced degrees in engineering and related professional fields.

Student Outcomes

Biological Engineering Program outcomes are aligned with the program outcomes of all academic engineering programs in the U.S. that are provided by the EAC Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org.

Student Outcomes describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation. These relate to skills, knowledge, and behaviors that students acquire as they progress through the Biological Engineering program.

The USU Biological Engineering Program Student Outcomes are:

1.   An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems.

2.   An ability to apply both analysis and synthesis in engineering design process, resulting in designs that meet constraints and specifications.  Constraints and specifications include societal, economic, environmental, and other factors as appropriate to the design.

3.  An ability to design to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation and testing procedures, and to analyze and draw conclusions from data.

4.  An ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences through various media.

5.  An ability to demonstrate ethical principles in an engineering context.

6.  An ability to recognize the ongoing need for additional knowledge and locate, evaluate, integrate, and apply this knowledge appropriately.

7.  An ability to establish goals, plan tasks, meet deadlines, manage risk and uncertainty, and function effectively on teams.


Assessment and Evaluation

The Biological Engineering Department is committed to an assessment process aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of the biological engineering program in preparing graduates as productive professionals. The foundation of departmental assessment is the undergraduate  accreditation by the EAC Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org.

The continuous improvement processes that are documented and implemented annually as part of the accreditation activities in support of the ABET requirements provide for formal review of the Biological Engineering Bachelor of Science program. Assessment and evaluation is formally conducted annually through department committees including: (1) the Curriculum Committee, (2) the ABET Committee, and (3) the Biological Engineering Industry Review Board. This assessment and evaluation ensures that the Biological Engineering program meets overall objectives and structure consistent with similar programs in the United States. 

Career Opportunities

The Biological Engineering program is broad based and prepares students to pursue opportunities in the biomedical, environmental, energy, bioproducts, food, and bioprocessing sectors as well as government and municipalities. Students receive a firm grounding in biological engineering and also the opportunity to specialize in their chosen area of biological engineering. Biological engineering and related fields are among the highest job growth areas through the next decade. Graduates of the program are also prepared to pursue advanced degrees in research/academia, medicine/dental, law and business. In recent years the College of Engineering has had an excellent job placement rate.

Undergraduate Programs

General biological engineering concepts include the properties of biological materials, electronics and bio-instrumentation, computer use and programming, engineering mechanics, thermodynamics, computer-aided design, biological modeling, including metabolic and biological systems modeling, bio-environmental transport phenomena, and fluid mechanics.

Students gain a strong foundation in engineering, biological, chemical, and physical sciences. Students are then able to choose areas of study tailored to their needs with 21 semester credits of engineering and technical electives and one-on-one academic advisement with a member of the faculty. Design is a major theme of the student's general coursework and area of interest, with most courses including open-ended design problems. The entire design experience is brought together in a capstone design course.

The Biological Engineering program is accredited by the EAC Accreditation Commission of ABET (www.abet.org).

Taking the Fundamentals of Engineering examination, the first step in becoming a licensed professional engineer, is required for graduation. After students have made three credible attempts to pass the national exam, a departmental exam will be administered. When passed, this departmental exam will satisfy the graduation requirement.


Admission and Graduation Requirements

The student who is majoring in or planning to major in Biological Engineering needs to be aware of the College of Engineering requirements concerning admission to the college, pre-engineering, admission to the professional engineering program, general education, and other  academic requirements. Additional information concerning these items is given in the College of Engineering  requirements in this catalog. It is the responsibility of the student to be aware of these rules and regulations.

Suggested Semester Schedule for Premedical Program

It is possible for students to combine premedical requirements with requirements for the Biological Engineering major. Some of the premedical requirements add to the total amount of credits required. This combination may be completed within five years, if the student is very diligent.  The BS schedule is designed to satisfy the requirements without time conflicts. Students who must deviate from this schedule should  be sure to meet often with a College of Engineering advisor. For most current schedule contact the Engineering Advising Center.

Additional Information

For more information about the Bachelor of Science requirements and the sequence in which courses should be taken, see Biological Engineering - BS , available from the Biological Engineering Department, the College Advising Center (ENGR 314A) or in the online catalog.

University Honors Program

The University Honors Program offers students in all colleges and majors the unique opportunity to deepen their educational experience with hands-on practical applications of their academic knowledge. The Honors Program admits incoming, transfer, and existing USU students based on application. High achieving students with at least one year remaining are encouraged to apply.  See the University Honors Program catalog entry and website (honors.usu.edu) for more information.

Financial Support

Scholarships, assistantships, grants-in-aid, and work-study programs are available through the University. In addition, the department employs students to assist in engineering research and development. Cooperative education and industrial employment opportunities for students are coordinated by the University Placement Office and by the Biological Engineering Department.

Concurrent BS/Master's Program

The concurrent BS/Master's program allows engineering students to begin taking graduate-level classes during their senior year. This permits them to complete requirements for both the BS degree and the master's degree concurrently during two years. Students in this program have a greater selection of graduate courses, since many graduate courses are taught during alternate years. In addition, the student's senior design project could be applicable to a graduate design project or thesis.  The department requires a minimum GPA of 3.2, both overall and during the last 60 semester credits, in order to qualify for acceptance into the concurrent BS/Master's program.  After completing the BS degree coursework, students in the program can earn a master's degree in only one additional year. Finally, students with a master's degree can expect a much higher starting salary following graduation. (For more information, see College of Engineering )

Graduate Programs

Admission Requirements

See general admission requirements. Admission committees also consider experience, undergraduate record and curriculum, and formal recommendations. A student without an undergraduate engineering background will be required to complete selected undergraduate courses prior to or concurrently with enrollment in graduate courses.

Prerequisites for Matriculation

Students who are admitted provisionally or who have been changed from matriculated to probationary matriculated status will have their records reviewed by a faculty committee when they have completed 12 credits of coursework (among which must be formal engineering courses) or at the end of their second semester at USU. Those students who have earned a 3.0 GPA at that time and desire to be matriculated may apply to the department to have their status changed. If they meet all other academic requirements of the School of Graduate Studies and the department, they will be matriculated and admitted to the degree program. When a student is admitted as a degree candidate, the committee may allow up to 12 credits taken while on nonmatriculated status to be transferred. Nonmatriculated students may continue to study at USU but without degree candidate status. At the end of their studies, nondegree students are granted a Certificate of Completion.

Prerequisite Requirements

All students must have had formal courses in engineering and computer programming, as well as at least one year of calculus. Students without this background can satisfy these requirements by taking the appropriate undergraduate courses at USU.

Research Option

Students wishing to gain experience in research may select the research option, particularly if they have a long-term goal of PhD study. The minimum requirements for this option are 30 credits, of which 6 may be awarded for the thesis.

Technical Practice Option

Some students may not be interested in pursuing a PhD degree or in doing the research necessary for a thesis. For such students, the technical practice (Plan B) option is offered. The requirements for the degree are similar to those for the research option, with the exception of the thesis. The 6 thesis credits are replaced by 3 credits for a significant engineering report or design project and 3 additional credits of coursework. The minimum course requirement for the technical practice option is 30 approved graduate credits.


Specific research projects in biological engineering include tissue and biomedical engineering related to heart stents, biosensor design and development for biomedical and bioenvironmental applications (genetic probes), microbial fermentations, biorefining (production of biofuels and bioplastics from biological feedstocks), nanobiotechnology (quantum dots), biophotonics (interactions of light with biological materials), land-based bioenvironmental sustainable systems (land application of industrial and municipal residuals for recycling, vegetative growth, soil improvement, and groundwater protection), metabolic engineering, and synthetic biological engineering.

Financial Assistance

The large and diverse departmental research programs make it possible to offer graduate financial support in the form of research assistantships, traineeships, and teaching assistantships for qualified students. Research assistantships are provided by the Biological Engineering Department and by individual research projects. Teaching assistantships are provided by the School of Graduate Studies and by the College of Engineering. It is the goal of the Biological Engineering Department to  provide research and/or teaching support for all qualified students.

Additional Information

Two guides are available from the department to assist students: (1) Report, Thesis, and Dissertation Format Guidelines and Policies, and (2) Policies and Procedures for Graduate Study.

FACULTY - College of Engineering 

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