Biological Systems Engineering

The Biological Systems Engineering Profession

Biological systems engineering involves the sustainable production, storage, and conversion of biobased materials into useful products. Examples range from breakfast cereals to biologically derived fuels like today’s ethanol and biodiesel.

What will the second- and third-generation biofuels look like? How can we convert low-cost biomass into a liquid fuel? How do we make biomass production systems more sustainable? What are the best opportunities for improving them? Biological systems engineers at Iowa State learn to innovate, to communicate, and to work as team members to address these sorts of critical questions.

Biological systems engineers have high-impact careers. Maintaining air quality, a secure food supply, and clean water is 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 by developing management plans to track materials and to minimize the chances of contamination.

Biological Systems Engineering Courses and Degree Planning

Option Areas of Study

  • Bioenvironmental Engineering: Apply biology and engineering principles to improve and protect soil, water, and air quality. Enjoy a carer that emphasizes the management and improvement of environmental systems through consulting, government agencies, and industry.
  • Biorenewable Resources Engineering: Improve the economic and environmental sustainability of biorenewable resource production systems. Enjoy a career that emphasizes the design and operation of industrial-scale bioconversion systems, including but not limited to biodiesel and ethanol plants.
  • Food Engineering: Design and operate modern food processing systems, such as food pasteurization, sterilization, freezing, and hydration. Enjoy a career improving the safety and quality of food by applying engineering, biology, and chemistry principles.
  • Open Option: Prepare for a professional degree program outside of engineering. Enjoy a career in academia, law, or industry that has a foundation in fundamentals, systems approaches, biology, and chemistry.

For more information, please contact academic advisor Lindsay Frueh, 515-294-5189, 1330B Elings Hall,