Skip over navigation

Program in Engineering Biology


Robert K. Prud'homme

Executive Committee

Jannette L. Carey, Chemistry 

Bradley W. Dickinson, Electrical Engineering 

Christodoulos A. Floudas, Chemical and Biological Engineering 

Peter R. Jaffé, Civil and Environmental Engineering 

Andrea S. LaPaugh, Computer Science 

A. James Link, Chemical and Biological Engineering 

Michael G. Littman, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 

Robert K. Prud'homme, Chemical and Biological Engineering 

Stanislav Y. Shvartsman, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics 

Mona Singh, Computer Science, Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics 

Winston O. Soboyejo, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 

The Program in Engineering Biology is designed for those highly motivated students who are interested in pursuing careers or graduate education in the areas of biotechnology or bioengineering. The interface between engineering science and the life sciences is an area of dramatic growth and intellectual vigor. Innovations and new developments in this area require multidisciplinary approaches and greater exposure to life science and engineering science fundamentals than is available from a single department. For engineering majors, in addition to courses in those subjects fundamental to the student's major, the program encourages the study of cellular and molecular biology, genetics, physiology, biochemistry, and neuroscience. For biological and chemical sciences majors, the program offers study in biotechnology, biomechanics, thermodynamics, control theory, hazardous waste management, electronics, computer graphics, and information theory.

Admission to the Program

Students are formally admitted to the program once they have declared a major. Any student enrolled in the School of Engineering and Applied Science or the Departments of Chemistry, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, or Molecular Biology is eligible to participate in the program. A student planning to enroll in the program should submit an application, which is available in A201 EQuad or on the program's website. Freshmen are encouraged to do this as early as possible to begin planning appropriate course sequences.

Program of Study

An engineering biology student will normally satisfy both program and departmental requirements. The program will be developed by the student and his or her departmental adviser in consultation with the special adviser in engineering biology. In some cases courses taken under the program requirements may be applied toward the fulfillment of regular departmental requirements. The program requirements are as follows:

1. Five biology/life science courses selected with the approval of the student's engineering biology adviser. The courses should represent a coherent program in some aspect of biological science. To ensure depth as well as breadth, at least two of the courses should be upper-division courses.

2. Five engineering courses selected with the approval of the student's engineering biology adviser. The courses should represent a coherent program in engineering science, such as biotechnology, waste management, biomechanical sensor technology, neural networks, or computer graphics, although they need not be in a single department. At least two of these courses should be at the upper-division level or required courses taken by departmental majors. Many upper-division engineering courses require calculus and/or differential equations (MAT 104, MAT 202, and MAE 305, or equivalent), and students should allow for these requirements in planning course selections.

3. Close collaboration with faculty is expected. Students are required to complete, with the grade of B- or better, at least one semester of independent work in an appropriate area of engineering biology. This independent work is coordinated with the student's department in order to satisfy departmental requirements for the senior thesis or senior independent research.

The growth of interdisciplinary research in bioengineering has led to the creation of several courses in the engineering school that satisfy the biology/life science course requirement, and courses taught in molecular biology that satisfy the engineering course requirements. Several physiology-oriented courses in the psychology department satisfy the life science course requirement. Students should consult the program's website for an updated list of courses that satisfy the program requirements.

Program students are expected to demonstrate strong academic performance. To qualify for the engineering biology certificate upon graduation, a minimum grade average of B- in the program courses is required. Program courses may not be taken on a pass/D/fail basis.

Additional information can be obtained at the Program in Engineering Biology website.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in engineering biology upon graduation.


CBE 201 An Introduction to Scientific Computing   Not offered this year QR

An introduction to computer programming emphasizing numerical modeling and problem solving, including numerical integration, solution of systems of non-linear equations, and composition of high-level macros for numerical work within spreadsheets. The programming environment is Visual Basic.NET, an object-oriented programming language that is accessible to beginner programmers and permits the rapid development of applications with a graphical user interface. Utilizes MATLAB data analysis, visualization, programming, and symbolic mathematics systems. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Prerequisite: MAT 103. A. Panagiotopoulos

CBE 215 Quantitative Principles in Cell and Molecular Biology (see MOL 215)

CBE 228 Energy Solutions for the Next Century (see MAE 228)

CBE 245 Introduction to Chemical Engineering Principles   Fall STN

Application of the principles of conservation of mass and energy to the design and analysis of chemical processes. Elementary treatment of single and multiphase systems. First law of thermodynamics for closed and open systems. Steady state and transient analysis of reacting and nonreacting systems. Prerequisite: general chemistry. R. Priestley

CBE 246 Thermodynamics   Spring STN

Basic concepts governing the equilibrium behavior of macroscopic fluid and solid systems of interest in modern chemical engineering. Applications of the first law (energy conservation) and second law (temperature, entropy, reversibility) to open and closed systems. Thermodynamic properties of pure substances and mixtures. Phase equilibrium and introduction to reaction equilibrium. Introduction to the molecular basis of thermodynamics. Applications include thermodynamics of protein stability, the Earth's energy balance, energy conversion schemes, and the binding of ligands to proteins. Prerequisite: 245 or instructor's permission. A. Panagiotopoulos

CBE 250 Separations in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology   Fall, Spring STN

Fundamental thermodynamic principles and transport processes that govern separations in biotechnology and chemical processing. Staged operations, such as distillation and chromatography, are developed based on coupling phase equilibrium with mass balances. Transport processes driven by electric fields, centrifugal fields, or hydrodynamics provide the basis for understanding ultracentrifugation, membrane process, and electrophoresis. Prerequisites: CBE 245, or MAT 104 with permission of instructor. Three classes. A. Link

CBE 260 Ethics and Technology: Engineering in the Real World (also EGR 260)   Spring EM

An examination of engineering as a profession and the professional responsibilities of engineers. The ethics of engineering will be considered through case studies (e.g., automobile safety, pollution control), and the social responsibilities of engineering will be distinguished from those of science and business. Quantitative decision-making concepts, including risk-benefit analysis, are introduced and weighed against ethical considerations to compare technology options. Ethical conflicts between utilitarian theories and duty theories will be debated. Two lectures, one preceptorial. J. Benziger

CBE 341 Mass, Momentum, and Energy Transport   Fall STN

Survey of modeling and solution methods for the transport of fluids, heat, and chemical species in response to differences in pressure, temperature, and concentration. Both steady state and transient behavior will be examined. Topics include fluid statics; conservation equations for mass, momentum and energy; dimensional analysis; viscous flow at high and low Reynolds number; thermal conduction; convective heat and mass transfer, correlations; diffusion and interphase mass transfer. Working knowledge of calculus, linear algebra and ordinary differential equations is assumed. Three lectures, one preceptorial. MAE 305 may be taken concurrently. M. Brynildsen

CBE 342 Fluid Mechanics   Not offered this year

Elements of fluid mechanics relevant to simple and complex fluids. Topics include macroscopic balances; derivation of differential balance equations and applications to unidirectional flows; treatment of nearly unidirectional flows through the lubrication approximation; introduction to turbulent flow; flow through porous media; capillary flows; dispersed two-phase flows; and hydrodynamic stability. Three lectures. Prerequisite: 341. S. Sundaresan

CBE 346 Chemical Engineering Laboratory   Spring STL

An intensive hands-on practice of engineering. Experimental work in the areas of separations, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, process dynamics and control, materials processing and characterization, chemical reactors. Development of written and oral technical communication skills. Prerequisites 246, 341 or equivalents. One 90-minute lecture, two three-hour laboratories. I. Aksay, B. Koel, R. Prud'homme

CBE 351 Junior Independent Work   Fall

Subjects chosen by the student with the approval of the faculty for independent study. A written report, examination, or other evidence of accomplishment will be required. B. Koel

CBE 352 Junior Independent Work   Spring

Subjects chosen by the student with the approval of the faculty for independent study. A written report, examination, or other evidence of accomplishment will be required. B. Koel

CBE 415 Polymers (also CHM 415)   Fall

Broad introduction to polymer science and technology, including polymer chemistry (major synthetic routes to polymers), polymer physics (solution and melt behavior, solid-state morphology and properties), and polymer engineering (overview of reaction engineering and melt processing methods). Two 90-minute lectures. R. Register

CBE 421 Catalytic Chemistry (also CHM 421)   Not offered this year

Concepts of heterogeneous catalysis applied to chemical processes. Major industrial processes based on heterogeneous catalysis, including ammonia synthesis, catalytic cracking, partial oxidation, and desulfurization. The major classes of heterogeneous catalysts, such as solid acids and transition metals, and the classes of chemical reactions catalyzed by these materials. Processing conditions and reactor design are also considered. Three lectures. Prerequisite: organic chemistry. J. Benziger

CBE 423 Biologically Inspired Materials   Not offered this year

Focuses on the pathways utilized by biological systems to produce hierarchically structured inorganic/organic nanocomposites such as bone, teeth, diatoms, and sea-shells. These structures form through template-assisted self-assembly, in which self-assembled organic materials (proteins, lipids, or both) serve as the structural scaffolding. The outcome is multifunctional composites with self-healing, sensing, and actuating properties. The course will critically evaluate the potential of biologically inspired materials in future applications. Two 90-minute lectures, one class. I. Aksay

CBE 432 The Cell as a Chemical Reactor   Not offered this year

Presents a framework for the analysis of cellular responses, such as proliferation, migration, and differentiation. Emphasis on mechanistic models of biotransformation, signal transduction, and cell-cell communication in tissues. Focuses first on unit operations of cell physiology transcription, translation, and signal transduction. Models of these processes will rely on tools of reaction engineering and transport. Process dynamics and control will then be used to analyze the regulatory structure of networks of interacting genes and proteins. Prerequisites: MOL 214 and MAT 303 or their equivalents. One three-hour lecture. S. Shvartsman

CBE 441 Chemical Reaction Engineering   Spring STN

Stoichiometry and mechanisms of chemical reaction rates, both homogeneous and catalytic; adsorption, batch, continuous flow, and staged reactors; coupling between chemical reaction rates and mass, momentum, and energy transport; stability; optimization of reactor design. Application to environmental and industrial problems. Two lectures, one class. Prerequisites: thermodynamics, 341. Y. Kevrekidis

CBE 442 Design, Synthesis, and Optimization of Chemical Processes   Fall STL

Introduction to chemical process flow-sheeting; process simulation design, sizing and cost estimation of total processes; process economics; introduction to optimization, linear programming, integer programming, and nonlinear programming; heat integration methods, minimum utility cost, minimum number of units, network optimization. Three lectures. Prerequisite: 441. C. Floudas

CBE 443 Separations in Chemical and Biochemical Processes   Not offered this year

Separations of importance in biochemical and chemical processes emphasizing physical and chemical mechanisms. Topics include: membrane separations, chromatographic separations, crystallization, centrifugation, filtration, extraction, and adsorption. Three lectures. R. Prud'homme

CBE 445 Process Control   Spring

A quantitative study of the principles of process dynamics and control. Dynamic behavior of chemical process elements; analysis and synthesis of linear feedback control systems with special emphasis on frequency response techniques and scalar systems. Two 90-minute lectures. Prerequisite: differential equations, which may be taken concurrently. C. Floudas

CBE 447 Biochemical Engineering   Spring

Introduction to engineering analysis of biological systems and the use of microorganisms in biotechnology. Specific topics will include: introduction to microbial biochemistry and genetics; enzyme kinetics; kinetics and energetics of microbial growth; heat and mass transfer in biological systems; microbial bioreactors; immobilized cells and enzymes; genetic engineering. Three lectures, optional review sessions. M. Brynildsen

CBE 448 Introduction to Nonlinear Dynamics (also MAT 448)   Not offered this year

An introduction to the phenomenology of nonlinear dynamic behavior with emphasis on models of actual physical, chemical, and biological systems, involving an interdisciplinary approach to ideas from mathematics, computing, and modeling. The common features of the development of chaotic behavior in both mathematical models and experimental studies are stressed, as is the use of interactive graphics to explore and analyze this behavior. Two 90-minute lectures. Prerequisites: knowledge of linear algebra and ordinary differential equations (for example, MAT 203, 303, or MAE 305). Y. Kevrekidis

CBE 451 Senior Independent Work   Fall

A one semester study of an important problem or topic in chemical and biological engineering. Projects may be experimental, computational, or theoretical. Topics selected by the students from suggestions by the faculty. Written report required. B. Koel

CBE 452 Senior Independent Work   Spring

A one semester study of an important problem or topic in chemical and biological engineering. Projects may be experimental, computational, or theoretical. Topics selected by the students from suggestions by the faculty. Written report required. B. Koel

CBE 454 Senior Thesis   Spring

A full year study of an important problem or topic in chemical and biological engineering culminating in a senior thesis. Projects may be experimental, computational, or theoretical. Topics selected by the students from suggestions by the faculty. Written thesis, poster presentation, and oral defense required. The senior thesis is recorded as a double course in the spring. Enrollment by application or interview. Departmental permission required. B. Koel