Biological Systems Engineering connects biology and engineering to solve complex, critical problems in the areas of sustainability, environmental stewardship, and human health. The Bachelor of Science in Biological Systems Engineering is offered through the College of Engineering and is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org. Graduates are prepared to develop engineering solutions that safeguard our land and water resources, detect and prevent human diseases, and produce food, pharmaceuticals, and polymers.
With 30 credits devoted to technical electives, our flexible curriculum provides students the opportunity to specialize in multiple career paths, including biotechnology, ecological engineering, biopharmaceuticals, environmental health, and food engineering. Students in each of these specialties are provided with a common foundation of biology and chemistry to expand core skills in math, physics, and engineering design principles. Biological Systems Engineering has relatively small class sizes that promote meaningful student-faculty interaction. Departmental courses include significant "hands-on" components and an emphasis on professional skills such as communication, teamwork, and the creative process of engineering design. The department offers over 14 endowed scholarships to students enrolled in Biological Systems Engineering, and students are also eligible for College of Engineering and other Virginia Tech scholarships.
The BSE program prepares graduates to accomplish the following objectives in their careers within a few years after graduation:
When combined with career-enhancing opportunities such as Cooperative Education, internships, undergraduate research and study abroad, this educational program enables graduates to make meaningful impacts on challenges involving natural resources and biological systems. Graduates are employed in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, energy, and food industries as well as government agencies, environmental and ecological consulting firms, and non-profit organizations. Graduates also succeed in professional schools such as medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine, and as graduate students in a variety of disciplines.
The graduation requirements in effect during the academic year of admission to Virginia Tech apply. When choosing the degree requirements information, always choose the year you started at Virginia Tech. Requirements for graduation are referred to via university publications as "Checksheets." The number of credit hours required for degree completion varies among curricula. Students must satisfactorily complete all requirements and university obligations for degree completion. The university reserves the right to modify requirements in a degree program.
Please visit the University Registrar's website at https://www.registrar.vt.edu/graduation-multi-brief/checksheets.html for degree requirements.
Department Head: D. R. Edwards
Associate Head for Undergraduate Studies: D. T. Scott
Graduate Program Director: C. W. Hession
H.E. and Elizabeth F. Alphin Professor: S. Mostaghimi
Elizabeth and James E Turner Jr Faculty Fellows: L.-A. H. Krometis and C. Zhang
Professors: J. R. Barone, B. L. Benham, Z. M. Easton, D. R. Edwards, W. C. Hession, D.J. Sample, D. T. Scott, and C. Zhang
Associate Professors: J. Arogo Ogejo, F. Batarseh, L.-A. H. Krometis, R. S. Senger, V. R. Sridhar, and T. M. Thompson
Assistant Professors: A. Chandel, J. Chen, J. A. Czuba, A. Duraj-Thatte, J. E. Shortridge, W. Sun, Z. Wang, and R. C. Wright
Academic Advisor: P. Baker
Survey of global societal and technological issues that engage biological systems engineers in the areas of health, environment, food and energy. Application of systems-level approaches to meet engineering challenges that intersect with crucial societal issues, including sustainability and equity. Evaluation of key factors that affect the design, communication, and public acceptance of engineered solutions. Analysis of cultural intelligence, with a specific focus on personality and problem solving styles amongst individuals and teams and productive conflict resolution.
Introduction to the fundamental concepts of Biological Systems Engineering, including statistics and material and energy balances, through applications in protein separation, hydrology, sediment/nutrient transport, and microbial metabolism. Engineering design process. Engineering problem-solving tools and techniques. Resolving ethical dilemmas. Development of oral and written communication skills; introduction to job searching resources; strategies for career development, and the importance of teamwork and ethics in Biological Systems Engineering.
Introduction to land surveying, computer-aided design, and drafting for land and water resources engineering. Representation of features in two and three dimensions for documentation and visualization of watershed engineering projects. Create plans, cross sections, detail drawings, and three dimensional visualizations using computer-aided design and drafting tools.
Fundamentals of the construction and operation of current internal combustion power units. Control of power utilizing clutches, transmissions, drive shafts, and differentials.
Solving engineering problems related to biological systems using numerical analysis including root finding, numerical integration, differentiation, interpolation and numerical solution of ordinary differential equations. Error analysis and programming with engineering software. Course requirements may be satisfied by taking MATH 2214 prior to or concurrent with course.
Fundamental concepts, first and second laws, psychrometrics applied to plant and animal environments, introduction to Gibbs energy, and application of calorimetry to gain basic understanding of energy flow in a biological system. Course requirements may be satisfied by taking CEE 3304 or CHE 3114 or ESM 3234 or ESM 3024 or ME 3404 prior to or concurrent with course.
Precipitation, soil physics, infiltration, evapotranspiration, groundwater hydrology, overland flow, open channel flow, flow routing, hydraulic analysis.
Erosion prediction and control; transport and fate of sediment, nutrients, and microorganisms; design of nutrient management plans, wetlands, detention facilities and other management practices for rural and urban nonpoint source pollution control.
Introduction to material and energy balances in biological systems. Fundamentals of heat and mass transfer in biological systems. One and two dimensional conduction, convection, and diffusion of thermal energy and mass. Heat and mass transfer rates, steady and unsteady state conduction, convection, diffusion; design of simple heat exchangers. Application of these topics and fluid mechanics to fluid handling, bacterial growth, plant nutrient uptake, enzymatic reactions.
Unit operations for processing biological materials including heat exchangers, evaporation, drying, mixing, homogenization, extrusion, phase and multi-phase separation, and size reduction. Laboratory hands-on experience in various unit operations. Course requirements may be satisfied by taking BSE 3504 prior to or concurrent with course.
Engineering concepts for biological conversion of raw materials to food, pharmaceuticals, fuels, and chemicals. Metabolic pathways leading to products, enzyme kinetics, cell growth kinetics, and analysis of bioreactors and fermenters.
4125: Identify and develop an engineering design project using the team approach; use of literature resources to define project objectives and approach; present project proposal in a professional written and oral manner; engineering ethics, professionalism and contemporary issues. Pre: Completion of 96 hours, overall GPA of 2.0 or better. 4126: Complete a comprehensive design project using the team approach, test approach, test prototype, and prepare and present a professional engineering design report.
4125: Identify and develop an engineering design project using the team approach; use of literature resources to define project objectives and approach; present project proposal in a professional written and oral manner; engineering ethics, professionalism and contemporary issues. Pre: Completion of 96 hours, overall GPA of 2.0 or better. 4126 Complete a comprehensive design project using the team approach, test prototype, and prepare and present a professional engineering design report.
Introduction to instrumentation and sensors for measurement and control of biological systems. Sensor response dynamics, data acquisition, sensor selection, signal processing and signal conditioning principles. Experimental determination of velocity, pressure, strain, displacement, forces and chemical constituents. Data analysis focused on uncertainty, error and statistical concepts.
Site characterization: surveying, channel and floodplain mapping, land use, electronic data acquisition. Techniques for measuring surface and subsurface hydrologic processes: water flow, hydrologic conductivity, precipitation, evaporation. Sampling techniques: surface water, groundwater, and soil pore water sampling. In-situ monitoring: automatic samplers, dataloggers, water quality sondes. Laboratory analyses: good laboratory practices, selection of analytical method, calibration, quality assurance/quality control.
Fundamental modeling principles used to quantifywatershed hydrology, energy budgets,and associated ecosystem functions, such asplant dynamics and biogeochemical processes, at scales ranging from soil poresto watersheds. Code development and model integration to simulate watershed hydrologyandnutrient and sediment transport. Model calibration and performance assessment. Data discovery, acquisition, and processing of data relevant to hydrologic/watershed modeling.
Introduction to landscape evolution. Influence of geology and climate on stream form and processes. Fundamental river mechanics and sediment transport. Stream surveying and classification. River system response to changes in hydrology and sediment supply. Interactions between ecosystems and fluvial systems. Human impacts on stream systems.
Conceptual, technical, and operational aspects of geographic information systems as a tool for storage, analysis, and presentation of spatial information. Focus on engineering applications in resource management, site selection, and network analysis. Laboratory work and senior standing required.
Social, economic and engineering principles of water supply and sanitation in developing countries as affected by climate, cultural and sociological factors, and material and financial resources. Pre: Junior or Senior standing.
Engineering principles for design of systems for processing biological materials into primary and secondary products. Delivery, scheduling, storage requirements, economic analysis. Process control and instrumentation of bioprocessing plants.
Unit operations commonly used in processing biological materials, including filtration, heat transfer, ultrafiltration, crystallization, and protein expression by fermentation, purification by chromatography, and characterization by gel electrophoresis.
Concepts, principles and applications of various unit operations used in protein separations. Properties of biological materials, such as cells and proteins, and their influences on process design. Design of processes for protein purification based on the impurities to be eliminated. Concepts and principles of scale-up of unit operations. Case studies in practical protein recovery and purification issues, with a focus on enhanced protein purification by genetic engineering. Protein purification process simulation and optimization using process simulation software.
Multidisciplinary, team oriented, problem-solving approaches to creating cities that foster healthy interconnections between human and ecological systems. Analysis of problems from practical and ethical perspectives in the context of the diverse knowledge bases and values of decision-makers. Formation and utilization of integrated design teams to solve complex urban design and planning problems at a variety of scales. Senior standing.
Engineering concepts for analyzing, designing, and modifying metabolic pathways to convert raw materials to food, pharmaceuticals, fuels and chemicals. Cell metabolism, pathway design, bioenergetics, regulatory mechanisms, metabolic modeling, and genetic tools.
Analysis and design of food processing operations including thermal pasteurization and sterilization, freezing, extrusion, texturization, and mechanical separation.