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The Introductory Sophomore Course In Biological Engineering At North Carolina State University

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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

4.528.1 - 4.528.13

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John Parsons

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Session 1308

The Introductory Sophomore Course in Biological Engineering at North Carolina State University

John E. Parsons Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7625


The trend in undergraduate Agricultural Engineering programs in the US is towards emphasizing the interactions between engineering and biology. At North Carolina State University, the undergraduate engineering curriculum was changed from a traditional Agricultural Engineering program to Biological Engineering in 1994. The first course in the program is a sophomore level introductory course. The course objectives are to provide an introduction to basic computer tools and an overview of the department. The changes in the curriculum dictated changes in most of the department’s engineering courses including the introductory course. The intent of this paper is to discuss the content of the introductory course and how the course emphasizes the interactions between engineering and biology.

I. Introduction

Traditional agricultural engineering programs have always emphasized a strong basic engineering background. This background spans many engineering disciplines including civil, chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering. As an applied engineering discipline, much of the junior and senior year engineering courses emphasize applications from the food and agricultural disciplines.

In the late 1980’s, the traditional agricultural engineering program at North Carolina State University was experiencing declining enrollment. The department began a series of curriculum changes to better address the changing needs of our clientele. The initial objective of the curriculum changes was to enable students to select courses to show a concentration in an area of agricultural engineering. The initial concentration areas included: biological, environmental/soil and water, food, and power and machinery. Under this curriculum, students selected six courses from an approved list for each concentration area.

In 1994, the state legislature began reviewing undergraduate graduation rates and strongly encouraged each college and university to review their programs. The effect of this review was a reduction in the number of credit hours for many of the engineering programs. Our department replaced the curriculum with a biological engineering degree program that met the reduced hours. This program also includes agricultural, biomedical, bioprocess, and environmental engineering concentration areas. The students have a choice of four engineering electives and there was an increased emphasis on the biological sciences. In addition to selecting two biological science courses, many of our existing courses were changed to include biology. The

Parsons, J. (1999, June), The Introductory Sophomore Course In Biological Engineering At North Carolina State University Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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