Asee peer logo

Teaching Biology From An Engineering Perspective: Integrating Biology Into Undergraduate Engineering Education

Download Paper |


2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

New Programs and Textbooks in BME

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1063.1 - 7.1063.15



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Robin Adams

author page

Mary Lidstrom

author page

Kjell Nelson

author page

Jeffrey Bonadio

author page

David Stahl

author page

Cynthia Atman

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu


Teaching Biology from an Engineering Perspective: Integrating Biology into Undergraduate Engineering Education

Kjell Nelson1, Robin Adams1, Mary Lidstrom2, Jeff Bonadio3, Dave Stahl4, Cynthia Atman1 1 Center for Engineering Learning and Teaching, 2Department of Chemical Engineering, 3Department of Bioengineering, 4Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington


A new course has been developed at the University of Washington that is designed to teach fundamental biological concepts specifically to engineering students who have little or no college level biology background. This course, entitled “Biological Frameworks for Engineers” instructs biology concepts from an engineering perspective and emphasizes the functional aspects of biological systems. It is divided into a series of three to four week modules, each establishing a real-world problem as a context for active, problem-based learning. A combination of instructional methods are used for each module such as lectures, in-class student- centered exercises, discussions, and labs. A matrix of assessment methods are integrated into the curriculum to triangulate on student learning outcomes and to provide feedback to the instructional team as part of an iterative course development cycle. This paper describes the content, implementation, and assessment strategies of the first two course offerings, and describes the key initial findings.


Scientific and technological advances during the 20th century have shifted the emphasis of the US economy from manufacturing to information, communication, and high technology. Continuing US economic and technological leadership will rely in part on engineers who can recognize, understand, and integrate new developments in information technology, nanotechnology, and the life sciences. Engineering education programs must be responsive to these trends and adapt existing curricula to train new generations of engineers who are able to fulfill the changing needs of our society.

A significant growth area for future engineering programs is the interface between engineering and biology. This is occurring because of the revolution in the biological sciences brought about by rapid advances in molecular biology and the availability of genome sequences, the move toward ever smaller and more complex systems, and the necessity of responding to the pressures Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

Main Menu

Adams, R., & Lidstrom, M., & Nelson, K., & Bonadio, J., & Stahl, D., & Atman, C. (2002, June), Teaching Biology From An Engineering Perspective: Integrating Biology Into Undergraduate Engineering Education Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10414

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2002 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015