Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences

Biosystems Engineering Undergraduate Program

For general information on admissions contact the Clemson Admissions Office.

For specific information related to the Biosystems Engineering Degree, please contact:

Caye Drapcho
Or, come visit the Main Office, 445 Brackett Hall and say Hi! to Cindy Gravely.

abet Biosystems Engineering is the field of engineering most closely allied with advances in biology. BE emphasizes two main areas - bioprocess engineering, with its basis in microbiology, and ecological engineering, with its basis in ecology.  The field focuses on the sustainable production of biorefinery compounds (biofuels, bioactive molecules, and biomaterials) using metabolic pathways found in nature and green processing technologies. Further, BE encompasses the design of sustainable communities utilizing low-impact development strategies (bioretention basins, rainwater harvesting) for stormwater retention and treatment - and ecologically-sound food and energy-crop production.  Scientific emphasis is shifting toward the biosciences. Biosystems engineers apply engineering design and analysis to biological systems and incorporate fundamental biological principles to engineering designs to achieve ecological balance.

Here are some activities of Biosystems Engineers:

  • Design bioprocesses and systems for biofuels (biodiesel, hydrogen, ethanol), biopharmaceutical, bioplastics, and food processing industries.
  • Develop ecological designs (permeable pavement, bioswales, green infrastructure) to integrate water management into the landscape.
  • Integrate biological sustainability concepts into energy, water and food systems.

Clemson offers the Bachelor of Science degree in biosystems engineering with two emphasis areas – bioprocessing and ecological engineering. Students are encouraged to complete a minor and participate in the Cooperative Education, Biosystems Engineering Intern, and/or Study Abroad Programs. Those interested in medical careers should consider graduate study and/or medical school.

For Graduation and Enrollment Data, please go to the CES Current Students Page.  Available here.

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The principal mission of the Biosystems Engineering program is to educate and prepare students for a wide range of engineering endeavors involving biological entities. Two main areas supported include engineering for management of ecological natural resources and the environment and engineering for production of value-added products from bioprocessing technologies.

Biosystems engineers work at the interface between engineering and life sciences and must be knowledgeable in both disciplines. Biosystems Engineering students should achieve familiarity with both biosystems emphasis areas, experience an interdisciplinary education, and develop a career goal of professional recognition and licensure.
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Clemson's accredited1 undergraduate Biosystems Engineering degree program is offered in the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences. Graduates are eligible for licensing as professional engineers after gaining acceptable experience and passing the Fundamentals of Engineering examination and the Principles and Practice of Engineering examination.

1“Accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org”.
Expand Educational Objectives
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The Program Educational Objectives (PEOs) for the Biosystems Engineering Program’s  alumni’ career or post-graduate education: 
  1. demonstrate competence in applying science, math, and engineering principles to biological systems involving natural resources, environmental quality, bioprocessing, agriculture, forestry, or other biosystems.
  2. demonstrate professionalism, ethics, effective communication skills, and leadership.
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Biosystems Engineering Program Outcomes

Programs must be technically sound, academically rigorous, and structured to foster academic growth while indulging individual interests. Upon completion of the Biosystems Engineering program, a student will be prepared to enter into the workforce confident that he has mastered the skills necessary to succeed. Student outcomes consist of the mandatory “ABET Eleven” plus four outcomes specific to Clemson’s Biosystems Engineering emphasis areas.

Graduates of the program will have:
  1. an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
  2. an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
  3. an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability
  4. an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams
  5. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
  6. an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
  7. an ability to communicate effectively
  8. the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
  9. a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
  10. a knowledge of contemporary issues
  11. an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice
  12. understanding in the basic principles of chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, and biology
  13. knowledge of biokinetics, biomaterials, bioprocessing, and bioreactors
  14. understanding in the basic principles of biology, soils, hydrology, and hydraulics, and
  15. knowledge of management of non-point source pollution, waste management, water quality, watershed hydrology, irrigation, drainage, and groundwater.
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For full curriculum details and other documents, please visit the BE advising page.

Biosystems Engineering Core Curriculum:

Undergraduate students take courses in four broad areas:

  • basic sciences - mathematics, physics and chemistry
  • engineering sciences - statics, dynamics, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, strength of materials and electrical circuits
  • biosystems engineering analysis and deesign courses - biological kinetics and reactor modeling, bioprocess design, watershed hydrology, and ecological engineering including a team-structured senior engineering design course
  • applied life sciences - biology, microbiology, and organic chemistry and electives selected based on the student's concentration.
Emphasis Areas:
Bioprocess Engineering Emphasis Area

The bioprocess engineering area focuses on sustainable bioprocessing, the microbial conversion of compounds for production of high-value compounds using green processing techniques and biological treatment of wastes. This area includes design of:

•    biorefineries to produce biofuels, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, and biomaterials;
•    advanced extraction and separation technologies for bioproducts;
•    bioreactor systems design for bioprocessing and waste treatment;
•    heat and mass transfer systems; and
•    instrumentation and process control systems.

Ecological Engineering Emphasis Area

Students who like engineering and who have an interest in the natural beauty of our planet and its resources will enjoy working in this focus area of biosystems engineering.This emphasis allows students to apply engineering and biological / ecological principles to the wise use, conservation and enhancement of our planets water, land and air resources. Clemson’s undergraduate program in ecological engineering emphasis prepares students for entry-level engineering jobs and for graduate studies in biosystems engineering or other programs such as environmental engineering. There is an increasing demand for graduates in this area.

Other courses on appropriate subjects may be substituted upon approval of the student’s Advisory Committee.

Expand Undergraduate Courses
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BE 1990 Creative Inquiry-Biosystems Engineering I 1-3(1-3,0) In consultation with and under the direction of a faculty member, students pursue scholarly activities individually or in teams. These creative inquiry projects may be interdisciplinary. Arrangements with mentors must be established prior to registration. May be taken twice for a maximum of six credits. To be taken Pass/Fail only.

BE 2100 Introduction to Biosystems Engineering 2(1,6) Overview of topics and engineering application areas that comprise the biosystems engineering profession. Significant emphasis is also given to development of oral and written communication skills needed by the engineering professional, introduction to design methodology, and application of engineering fundamentals to biological systems. Preq: ENGR 1300, ENGR 1410, MTHS 1060.

BE 2120 Fundamentals of Biosystems Engineering 2(1,6)
Introduction to fundamental concepts in biosystems engineering, including mass, energy, and momentum balances; mass, heat, and momentum transfer; biological response to environmental variables, biological materials, biological kinetics, and techniques of measurement and analysis of engineering and biological data. Laboratory includes hand-on exercises, problem solving and computer sessions, and oral presentations. Preq: BE 2100.

BE 2990 Creative Inquiry-Biosystems Engineering II 1-3(1-3,0) In consultation with and under the direction of a faculty member, students pursue scholarly activities individually or in teams. These creative inquiry projects may be interdisciplinary. Arrangements with mentors must be established prior to registration. May be taken twice for a maximum of six credits. To be taken Pass/Fail only.

BE 3000 (HON) Biosystems Engineering Honors Seminar 0(0,1)
Introduces undergraduate students to current faculty research. Project ideas are then developed to prepare students in choosing a research topic for the senior honors thesis. Students are required to attend senior honors thesis presentations. To be taken Pass/Fail only. Preq: Junior standing in departmental honors program.

BE 3010 (HON) Biosystems Engineering Honors Thesis Research 3(0,6)
Honors thesis project proposal, initial research, report, and presentation of biosystems engineering project for completion of junior requirements of the Biosystems Engineering Honors program. Preq: BE 3000 (HON)

BE  3120 Biological Kinetics and Reactor Modeling 3(2,6) Fundamentals of microbial and biochemical kinetics used in analysis and design of biological systems. Topics include mathematical and computer modeling of biological kinetics and systems, estimating model coefficients, and development of microbial kinetic models as basis for batch and continous reactor design. Preq: BE 2120, MTHS 2080.

BE 3140 Biosystems Engineering Mechanical Design 3(3,0) Study of basic mechanical design of biosystems. Includes an introduction to biomechanics and biomaterial properties. Studies applications of machine components and their selection related to specific types of biosystems. Team design project is required. Preq: CE 2060 or ME 3020.

BE 3200 Geomeasurements 3(2,6) Fundamentals of land measurement and traverse calculations. Leveling, earthwork, area, and topographic measurements using levels, total stations, and GPS. Application of mapping via GIS. Preq: MTHS 1060. 

BE 3220 Small Watershed Hydrology and Sedimentology 3(3,0) Fundamental relationships governing rainfall disposition are used as bases for defining the hydrology of watersheds. Emphasizes application of modeling techniques appropriate for runoff and sediment control. Preq: PHYS 1220. Coreq: CE 3210 or CSEN 2020.

BE 3700 Practicum 1-3 Preplanned internship with an approved employer involved with biosystems engineering endeavors. A minimum 130 hours of supervised responsibility is required per credit hour. Evaluation is based on activity journal, written/oral report, and an evaluation from the supervisor. May be repeated for a maximum of three credits. To be taken Pass/Fail only. Preq: Junior standing and departmental consent.

BE 3990 Creative Inquiry-Biosystems Engineering III 1-3(1-3,0) In consultation with and under the direction of a faculty member, students pursue scholarly activities individually or in teams. These creative inquiry projects may be interdisciplinary. Arrangements with mentors must be established prior to registration. May be taken twice for a maximum of six credits. To be taken Pass/Fail only.

BE 4000 (HON) Biosystems Engineering Honors Thesis 3(0,6)
Individual research projects are conducted under the supervision and guidance of a faculty member. Senior honors thesis is required. Preq: B E 3000 (HON), 3010 (HON).

BE (CSEN) 4080, 6080 Land Treatment of Wastewater and Sludges 3(3,0)
See CSENV 408. BE 410 Biological kinetics and reactor modeling (2,3) Fundamentals of microbial and biochemical kinetics used in analysis and design of biological reactor systems. Topics include mathematical and computer modeling of biological systems, estimation of model coefficients, and development of microbial kinetic models as basis for batch and continuous reactor design.

BE 4120, 6120 Heat and Mass Transport in Biosystems Engineering 3(3,0)
Fundamentals of heat and mass transport used in engineering design and analysis of biological systems; principles of steady state and transient energy and mass balances including chemical and biological generation terms. Preq: BE 3120, MTHS 2080. Coreq: ME 3100.

BE 4140, 6140 Biosystems Engineering Unit Operations 3(2,6)
Applies the basic principles of statics, dynamics, and thermodynamics to design of mechanical and electrical systems supporting biological operations and processes. Preq: BE 3140, ME 3100.

BE 4150, 6150 Instrumentation and Control for Biosystems Engineers 4(3,6)
Overview of modern instrumentation techniques and digital electronic components and subsystems to integrate them into digital data acquisition and control systems for biosystems. Laboratory use of equipment is emphasized. Topics include characteristics of instruments, signal conditioning, transducer theory and applications, programmable logic controllers, and digital data acquisition and control. Preq: ECE 3070.

BE 4170, 6170 Applied Instrumentation and Control for Biosystems 2(1,6)
Hardware and software implementation of digital data acquisition and control systems for application to agriculture, aquaculture, biotechnology, and other biosystems. Topics include digital electronic circuits and components, microcomputer architecture, interfacing, and programming. Preq: BE 4150 or consent of instructor.

BE 4210 Engineering Systems for Soil Water Management 2(1,6) Presents fundamentals of design related to drainage of lands, irrigation, and modification of the microenvironment for optimum productivity. Preq: MTHS 2080. Coreq: CE 3410.

BE 4220, 6220 Hydrologic Modeling of Small Watersheds 3(3,0)
Design of structures and development of best management practices for runoff, flood, and sediment control from rural and urban areas, including natural and disturbed watersheds. Topics include modeling of prismatic and non-prismatic channels, culverts, and detention/retention ponds. Preq: BE 3220 or consent of instructor.

BE 4240 Ecological Engineering 3(3,0)
Focuses on engineering solutions to environmental and socioeconomic problems using ecological design principles. Explores ecosystem processes as they pertain to sustainable development, natural resource protection, food and energy production, waste management, and environmental restoration. Engineering fundamentals and ecological modeling are integral components of this course. Preq: Senior standing in engineering.

BE (CHE) 4280, 6280 Biochemical Engineering 3(3,0)
Use of microorganisms and enzymes for the production of chemical feedstocks, single-cell protein, antibiotics, and other fermentation products. Topics include kinetics and energetics of microbial metabolism, design and analysis of reactors for microbial growth and enzyme-catalyzed reactions, and considerations of scale-up, mass transfer, and sterilization during reactor design. Preq: BE 3120, MICR 3050; Coreq: (for Biosystems Engineering majors) BCHM 3010 or 3050; (for Chemical Engineering majors) CHE 3300, 4500.

BE 4310 Structural Design for Biosystems 2(2,0)
Analysis and design of structures and statically determinant components with emphasis on wood. Preq: CE 2060 or ME 3020.

BE 4350, 6350 Applications in Biotechnology Engineering 3(2,6) Bioengineering principles applied to the expanding fields of agricultural biotechnology, ecotechnology, and biomedical technology. Specific applications include waste treatment and ecological engineering, bioreactor propagation of plant and animal cells and tissues, applied genomics and synthetic seed production, biosensors and biomonitoring, biological implants and materials biocompatibility. Preq: BE (CHE) 4280.

BE 4380, 6380 Bioprocess Engineering Design 3(2,2)
Design and analysis of systems for processing biological materials. Topics include biotechnology, thermodynamics, transport processes, and biological properties related to bioprocess design and computational simulation. Unit operations include basic bioreactor operation, bioseparations, and preservation techniques. Preq: BE (CHE) 4280.

BE 4400, 6400 Renewable Energy Resource Engineering 3(2,2)
Investigation into merging renewable energy resources, including detailed study of solar, wind, and bioenergy alternatives. Also includes principles, technologies, and performance evaluation of components for these technologies and an introduction to tidal, hydro, geothermal, and other energy; energy conservation; cogeneration; financial, economical, and other issues related to alternative energy sources. Preq: Science or engineering major, consent of instructor.

BE 4420, 6420 Properties and Processing of Biological Products 2(1,6) Study of engineering properties of biological materials and their uniqueness as design restraints on systems for handling, processing, and preserving biological products. Preq: BE 3330, CE 3410, ME 3020, 3100.

BE (EES, FOR) 4510, H4510, 6510 Newman Seminar and Lecture Series in Natural Resources Engineering 1(0,2)
Topics dealing with development and protection of land, air, water, and related resources are covered by seminar with instructor and invited lecturers. Current environmental and/or resource conservation issues are addressed. Preq: Senior standing, consent of instructor.

BE 4640, 6640 Non-Point Source Management in Engineered Ecosystems 3(2,6)
Fundamentals of non-point source pollution including quantification of environmental impact and ecosystem management related to contaminants and nutrients and to planning and design of ecological systems. Preq: MICR 3050, Senior standing in engineering, or consent of instructor

BE 4730 Special Topics in Biosystems Engineering 1-3(1-3,0) Comprehensive study of special topics not covered in other courses. Emphasizes independent pursuit of detailed investigations. Senior standing and consent of department.

BE 4740 Biosystems Engineering Design/Project Management 2(1,6)
Study of biological systems design using hydrology principles, fluid mechanics, bioprocessing, heat/mass transfer, instrumentation, mechanical unit operations, and structural principles for project design, scheduling, and cost estimation. Topics also include engineering ethics, professional development, written and oral communication, and job skills. Senior portfolios are also developed. Preq: BE 3140, 4120, 4150; 4280 (Applied Biotechnology Concentration) or 3220 (Natural Resources and Environment Concentration).

BE 4750 Biosystems Engineering Capstone Design 2(0,4) Applications of hydrology, fluid mechanics, bioprocessing, heat/mass transfer, instrumentation, mechanical unit operations, and structural principles in design; project scheduling; cost estimation; ethics; environmental and social impacts; design drawings; and report documentation. Preq: BE 4740; CE 4310 or CHE 2300.

BE (EES) 4840, 6840 Municipal Solid Waste Management 3(3,0) See EES 4840.

BE 4990 Creative Inquiry-Biosystems Engineering IV 1-3(1-3,0)
In consultation with and under the direction of a faculty member, students pursue scholarly activities individually or in teams. These creative inquiry projects may be interdisciplinary. Arrangements with mentors must be established prior to registration. May be taken twice for a maximum of six credits. To be taken Pass/Fail only.

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