Biological Systems Engineering

Enjoy your adventure.

Be passionate.
Be creative.
Change the world.
Be greater than youimagined in biological systems engineering at Iowa State University.

More opportunities. More possibilities. More potential.

At Iowa State you’ll find all of these things and more. Immerse yourself in a university where top-notch academics and a vibrant student life form the ultimate college adventure. Open your mind. Broaden your horizons. Make memories to last a lifetime. Enjoy your biological systems engineering adventure.

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Biological systems engineering is an adventure.

It begins here.

Iowa State’s biological systems engineering program has a range of resources and services to help you be creative in your field of study and life. Your adventure will take you places you can’t begin to imagine!

Engineer your future

Many of our graduates have built successful careers not only as engineers, but also as managers, entrepreneurs, sales representatives and consultants.

  • The average starting salary of biological systems engineering graduates is $62,000/year.
  • Co-op and internship salaries for our students average more than $19/hour.
  • More than 500 companies visit the College of Engineering each year to recruit our students.
  • 100 percent of our biological systems engineering students have in-profession placement within six months of graduation.

Discover your passion

Do you want to make a big difference in the everyday lives of people locally and globally—helping to use bioresources for safe food, a clean environment and energy? The engineers who do this work are interested in the application of biology and engineering meeting core human needs. Biological systems engineering involves the sustainable production, storage and conversion of biobased materials into useful products ranging from breakfast cereals to biologically-derived fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. What will second and third generation biofuels look like? How can we efficiently convert crop-residues into liquid fuels or make biomass production and processing systems more sustainable? A secure food supply, clean water and renewable energy sources are important to everyone. In today’s global marketplace, grains, produce and livestock are transported from country to country; and food security is increasingly of concern. Biological systems engineers help safeguard our air, water and food supply by developing sensors to detect problem compounds and management plans to track materials to minimize the chances of contamination.

Be greater than you imagine

Whatever your goals are, your success is important to us! Our programs, labs, hands-on learning and facilities will give you a competitive advantage to address society’s greatest needs. Personal attention: Our department is small enough for you to have personal attention from faculty, but large enough to choose a variety of educational opportunities. The student-to-faculty ratio is 28:1. Average class size is 15 to 50 students. And the average lab size is about 16 students working in teams of 2 to 4. Learning communities: When students work together and support each other, good things happen. We have created a strong social and academic environment for new students with our Living/Learning Community. Join a learning community and have common schedule of classes, peer mentors, career exploration and the option of living on a floor with other students in your major. Labs: In class you will use state-of-the-art computers and lab equipment. In fact, several companies donate lab equipment to help you learn. Some of our unique labs include the Biomaterials Lab, Cargill Biorenew@ISU Common Lab, Grain Quality Lab, Mechatronics Lab and Center for Crops and Utilization Research Pilot Plant.

Core curriculum

Your course work will combine engineering with chemistry and biology to prepare you for careers in food, feed, fiber and environmental areas. The biological systems engineering degree offers exciting opportunities to integrate life sciences with engineering. Specific areas of academic emphasis include:

  • Biorenewable Resource Engineering: Improve the economic and environmental stability of biorenewable resource production systems.
  • Bioenvironmental Engineering: Apply biology and engineering principles to improve and protect soil, water and air quality.
  • Food Engineering: Use science and engineering to design modern food-processing systems.
  • Preprofessional and pregraduate: Prepare for a professional degree program outside of engineering.

Check us out!