What is Bioengineering?

A relatively new discipline, Bioengineering is changing the way scientists view problems like water pollution and prosthetics. It is branching out into many areas of life and bringing answers to questions that have gone unanswered until now.

Definition of Bioengineering

Wikipedia defines this discipline as the application of concepts and biology…to solve real world problems…using engineering methodologies. There are a lot of other terms in the Wikipedia definition, but the important concept is that this is a melding of engineering and biology.

Using the science, researchers have designed prosthetics and hospital equipment, and have produced solutions for life problems at the cellular level. Some of the topics addressed in a journal devoted to the science include “synthetic biology and cellular design, engineering of biomedical and cellular devices, bioproduction and bioproduct engineering, ecological engineering and biological engineering education.”

What Do They Do?

This science is involved in many areas of life. Bioengineers design medical instruments and devices that make diagnosis and treatment of illness easier, and they produce genetically altered bacteria that consume toxins from streams. They develop and improve medical imaging devices and create new surgical techniques. These engineers work in the pharmaceutical industry to design new drugs. They study fermentation of grains to develop biofuels that run cleaner and are environmentally friendly. Biological engineers grow human tissues that can be used to test new drugs, too. They even work in laboratories engineering tissues that can replace damaged organs.

How Does Someone Become a Biological Engineer?

First, he needs at least a bachelor’s degree in this discipline. That degree will allow him to enter the profession at an entry level, but someone who wants to do more than assist in research needs a graduate or doctoral degree. The degree can be specialized in four main areas: environmental engineering, biomedical engineering, bioprocesses and agriculture. Courses in the program may include things like water management and food production as well as math, chemistry and biology. Someone wanting to go into this career must have an analytical mind and an aptitude for math and biology. He should also be able to work in teams. With the shrinking world, problems that are solved with this approach are global in nature and are addressed by teams of scientists from different disciplines.

What is the Job Outlook for Biological Engineers?

The BLS says that the field in general will have a 23 percent growth rate over the next four years. Those engineers working in agriculture will see less growth than those working in the environment or in biomedical fields. Engineers working with agricultural issues have a lower median salary as well. They can expect to earn $75,090 while those in biomedical engineering will earn an average $84,560.

There is such variety in the kinds of opportunities and areas of interest that a professional in this discipline can work in virtually any area that he desires. Someone with an aptitude in math and biology, with an eye for detail may find that Bioengineering is a great career choice.

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