Biological Engineers help ensure that we have the basic necessities of life…safe and plentiful food supplies, pure water to drink and a safe, healthy environment. As the world population continues to increase, alternative fuels, food production and protection of our natural resources become increasingly important. BE applies engineering principles to biological sciences to produce biofuels, food, feed, fiber and other agricultural products from renewable bio-resources. It also aims to protect the environment and conserve and replenish our natural resources and engineer environmentally sustainable packaging solutions for the consumer and food industries.
Food and agribusiness is the largest single industry in the United States and Florida. It is the most highly sophisticated and technologically advanced industry in the world. Its status is due in part to the successes of agricultural and biological engineers.
The curriculum in BE provides a foundation to address the engineering problems of agricultural and related biological systems. These problems will be of even greater concern in the future. Courses in BE unify learned concepts into a practical ability to solve a broad range of engineering problems encountered in biotechnology,agriculture and food processing. Students must meet the requirements in the College of Engineering. The Biological Engineering program is accredited by ABET. The BE Academic Learning Compact identifies the skills students should acquire if they follow the course of study (see examples). Four areas of concentration are available:
- Biosystems Engineering - provides a framework for integrating fundamental engineering sciences and practice with biological sciences. The curriculum prepares students for advanced studies in biomedical engineering, bioprocess engineering and agricultural engineering and fulfills the requirements for admission to medical, dental and veterinary professional programs at the University of Florida.
- Land and Water Resources Engineering - is concerned with all aspects of water and rural environmental management, including irrigation, water conservation, drainage, water control and structures, soil erosion, waste and wastewater recycling, water quality, ecosystems preservation and environmental quality.
- Packaging Engineering - is concerned with the life cycle of the package, including design, development, distribution, transport and recycling of materials with a focus on packaging technologies and sustainable packaging solutions for a variety of food and consumer products.
- Agricultural Production Engineering - is concerned primarily with the design and implementation of agricultural power and machinery, structures and their environments, greenhouses and instrumentation, robotics for agriculture and computer modeling and control.
Biological Engineers explore the development of new biofuels, biosensors and biotechnology. They work with farmers, agri-businesses, and conservation organizations to develop solutions to problems relating to the use and conservation of soil, water and forest resources. They also work to develop technologies to improve crop and livestock production, improve food-processing techniques, develop safe and environmentally friendly packaging and extend the storage-life of perishable products like produce or flowers. They work to preserve and protect wetlands, improve the quality of our water supply and find new uses for biological resources.Starting salaries average over $45,000/year.
BE graduates have a wide variety of career options, depending on their area of concentration. Employers include water management districts, biotech companies, consumer product industries, government agencies, civil engineering firms, food companies such as Kraft, Tyson and Nestle, NASA, Walt Disney World, Abbot Laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, machinery companies, and many others. Students with a focus in packaging are employed as packaging engineers in a wide variety of national and international companies.
The work environment for Biological Engineers varies from laboratories to offices to field types of environments. Most of our students are offered positions prior to or immediately upon graduation. Students are encouraged to participate in industry internships prior to graduation.
The Biological Engineering Program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.