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The Evolution Of Engineering Incorporating Biology Into Traditional Engineering Curriculum

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.521.1 - 4.521.8



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Paper Authors

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Jennifer Maynard

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Anneta Razatos

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

Session 2313

The Evolution of Engineering: Incorporating Biology into Traditional Engineering Curriculum

Jennifer Maynard, Anneta Razatos The University of Texas at Austin


Technology is changing more rapidly today than ever before, and it is critical that engineering students are prepared to succeed in a wide variety of developing disciplines. Students should be prepared to apply fundamental concepts of engineering to nontraditional challenges. One emerging area in research and industry is that of biology: as this basic science evolves from being descriptive to quantitative and predictive, academic and industrial engineers are increasingly involved in addressing biological problems. Currently, large chemical companies are expanding in the biological sciences by exploring the genetic engineering of crops, use of bacterial catalysts, and “green” engineering. The engineering departments of universities are also involved by recruiting students and new faculty with an emphasis in environmental engineering and biotechnology.

How can students be trained in biological topics without time consuming and controversial overhauls of the curriculum? During lectures, the instructor has a unique opportunity to expose students to current developments in emerging areas of research. Students can be trained to solve biological problems with mathematical solutions by incorporating biological applications, examples, and bench-top experiments into the traditional chemical engineering curriculum. Consequently, students learn to use engineering fundamentals to explain and control biological phenomena.

This paper will discuss methods of incorporating biological applications into fundamental chemical engineering courses, such as thermodynamics, kinetics & reactor design, and transport in order to: 1) teach students how to apply basic science and chemical engineering fundamentals to describe complex biological phenomena, 2) help students understand chemical engineering concepts using biological examples, 3) raise interest in chemical engineering by illustrating biological applications.

I. Introduction

The cover story of the November 23, 1998 issue of Chemical &Engineering News exposed the increased commitment to biology and the life sciences by large chemical companies such as DuPont, Dow, Monsanto, and Hoechst7. In this article, DuPont management states that biotechnology and the life sciences are “cornerstones” and “growth engines” that should coexist within chemical industries7. DuPont predicts that by the year 2002, the life sciences will represent a third of the company’s sales and earnings 7. The trend in biological awareness is

Maynard, J., & Razatos, A. (1999, June), The Evolution Of Engineering Incorporating Biology Into Traditional Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina. 10.18260/1-2--7653

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