The Biological Systems Engineering Profession

Biological systems engineers have high-impact careers. The leverage their understanding of engineering and biology to help address issues related to water quality, a secure food supply, and renewable energy – issues that are important to everyone. They are hands-on problem solvers who have a wide array of skills that they use to help people and communities.

Biological systems engineering graduates help safeguard our air, water, and food supply by developing sensors to detect problem compounds and by developing management plans to track materials. They also solve problems associated with environmental protection, conservation of natural resources, environmentally sound production of renewable resources, and conversion of these resources to value-added products such as food, pharmaceuticals, polymers, and biofuels.

Our ISU Biosystems Engineering (BSE) alumni would tell you that they enjoy making a difference – for example, their education and critical thinking skills are helping pave the way for a cleaner stream or lake, creating an improved food product, or processing a biorenewable feedstock into a fuel or chemical. Working with teammates and clients, solving problems, and developing new ideas, equipment and ways of managing processes make this career very rewarding.

What kind of jobs can I get after graduation?

If working for a large corporation in an urban area, you might expect a starting annual salary of range of $50,000 – $70,000. Working for a small company has many advantages, but the salaries are usually slightly lower. That salary will usually rise if you earn your licensure as a professional engineer. The potential earnings over a lifetime are determined by many factors, such as the geographical region, type of employment, and whether you choose a managerial track or remain on the engineering or scientific staff.

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Ag Leader Technology
American Ordnance
Archer Daniels Midland
CenUSA Bioenergy
ConAgra Foods
General Mills
Hormel Foods
Growmark, Inc.
Hawkeye Renewables
Iowa Select Farms
Kraft Foods
Midwest Independent
Patriot Renewable Fuels
Pioneer Hi-Bred International
POET Energy
Renewable Energy Group
Soil Samplers
Valero Services


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Feedstock Team Specialist
Field Test Engineer
Manufacturing Development Associate
Manufacturing Engineer
Manufacturing Engineering Associate
Mills Development Associate
Product Tester
Production Engineer
Production Management Engineer
Supply Chain Associate