The BioTECH Quarterly
"Bio" + "Engineering" Options: BE Major &
In addition to
the anticipated Biological Engineering major, there are many other “Bio” +
“Engineering” options offered at MIT. Here is a sample of student perspectives
from different departments:
of integration of Biology with Chemical Engineering
"As a chemical engineering student, it was eye-opening to see
the application of basic mass transfer to drug transport in the brain
or learn a little mechanical engineering for a change. I don’t think, however,
that these classes should be a means of learning the basics of engineering
When I declared my major to be Course 10, I wasn’t really sure what a chemical engineer did. I knew I liked chemistry and math, and I also knew that I wanted to pursue engineering because I wanted to be able to think like an engineer, so chemical engineering was a logical choice.
At first the classes were very difficult, as I believe any beginning engineering classes would be, since engineering is an entirely new way of thinking. I enjoyed the challenge, however, and I am extremely happy with my decision. Many students in Course 10 tend to be very interested in biology and bioengineering. They often ask why they should attend MIT since it doesn’t even have a biomedical engineering (BME) major for undergraduates.
I admit, if MIT had a BME program as a major when I was declaring my major, I would have chosen it without thinking twice. However, now that I am thinking about grad school applications, I am very glad that MIT doesn’t offer a BME degree for undergraduates. BME programs at almost all other schools leave students with a general understanding of all aspects of engineering and biology, but no in-depth knowledge of any particular field.
I believe that the field is still developing and it is too early to create a strong curriculum that provides a solid base in BME. MIT, instead of offering a degree that would leave students with a partial degree of engineering and biology, encourages students to pursue a conventional engineering degree supplemented with biology and bioengineering courses specific to traditional engineering fields.
I believe that the Chemical Engineering department has done an excellent job in integrating biology into chemical engineering with courses such as 10.28, 10.29, 10.441/BE.361, and even core Course 10 classes such as 10.302, 10.32, and 10.37. The new Chemical-Biological Engineering major (Course 10B) is a culmination of this integration of biology and chemical engineering. It offers a great option for students very interested in biology, but still want a strong base in engineering.
Having taken several bioengineering classes such as 2.797, 10.441, and 10.28, I believe they offer a great overview of engineering applications to biology. As a chemical engineering student, it was eye-opening to see the application of basic mass transfer to drug transport in the brain or learn a little mechanical engineering for a change. I don’t think, however, that these classes should be a means of learning the basics of engineering and biology.
The process to choosing a major can be quite confusing, but MIT offers many strong programs with a lot of flexibility. What you have to keep in mind are your interests and whether you want a strong engineering or science background as an undergraduate.
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