Apr 13, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biosystems Engineering Major, BS in Biosystems Engineering – Pre-Professional Concentration

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Burk, Yoder

The Herbert College of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Tickle College of Engineering, offers a four-year curriculum leading to the Bachelor of Science in Biosystems Engineering. The Bachelor of Science in Biosystem Engineering (BSE) is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission(s) of ABET, https://www.abet.org, under the General Criteria and the Biological Engineering Program Criteria. Overall goals of the program are emphasized in the educational objectives and program outcomes statements listed below. Program details are given in the showcase curricula and the individual course descriptions.

Career opportunities for graduates include the design, development, or management of practices that produce biofuels, minimize soil erosion, and conserve water resources; biological waste treatment systems; safer machinery systems with lower environmental impact and improved food and bio-processing systems. Employment opportunities are available in a wide variety of industries, government agencies, research and testing organizations, and educational and non-profit institutions.

The curriculum provides instruction in the analytical and design skills needed to solve engineering problems related to biological and agricultural systems. Comprehensive design of systems and their components is emphasized in the senior year. In addition to the standard biosystems engineering curriculum, a pre-professional concentration is available. The degree program has provisions for elective courses to be taken in specified subject areas. Proper scheduling of courses is very important since prerequisite requirements must be met. Students must consult with their advisors each semester to review their scheduling plan.

Students majoring in biosystems engineering are eligible to participate in the Engineering Cooperative Scholarship Program and other student activities in the Tickle College of Engineering. Biosystems engineering majors interested in the Engineering Cooperative Scholarship Program should consult with their faculty advisor or the head of the Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science Department, 865-974-7266; e-mail bess@utk.edu.

The biosystems engineering program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, provides an exceptional breadth of background in science and engineering, a strong emphasis on design throughout the curriculum, and a focused application of engineering principles to complex biological systems. The program enables its students to perform in a manner that reflects positively on the program and the institution’s reputation.

The Biosystems Engineering Program has ABET Program Educational Objectives that align with the objectives of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Graduates are prepared to:

  • Successfully apply engineering principles to complex biological systems, with principles grounded in improving ecological systems and water quality, sustainable food and fiber production and processing, renewable energy production and implementation, efficient mechanical designs and automation, innovative instrumentation and sensors, or related fields,
  • Continue developing as professionals and leaders in society, through professional involvement and/or lifelong-learning, and
  • Incorporate a wide range of social and cultural issues and corresponding solutions into engineering and professional activities.

Student Outcomes

To achieve the program educational objectives listed above, a series of student outcomes have been adopted. These student outcomes provide specific measures to determine the degree of success in meeting each of the educational objectives. In order to be considered successful, at the time of graduation our students should demonstrate the following abilities:

  • an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  • an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
  • an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  • an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  • an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  • an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  • an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies
  • The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context.

One of the primary tools engineers bring to the solution of many problems is a mastery of mathematics, so mathematical competence is a critical component of an engineering education. In order to graduate with a major in biosystems engineering, students must display this competence by achieving an average GPA of at least 2.0 in the required mathematics courses. Students have the responsibility to work with their academic advisor to assure that they meet this requirement.

The pre-professional concentration provides comprehensive training in biosystems engineering while preparing the student for candidacy to medical school. While this program meets most of the general published pre-medical requirements, the student has the responsibility to work with an academic advisor to ensure that his or her program meets the demands of specific schools. This concentration may also meet most of the requirements for candidacy to dental school, veterinary school, and other professional programs.

In order to provide students with the best advice concerning course selection, general academic success, and career choices, the programs within the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science require that all undergraduate students meet with their academic advisors every semester before registering for classes.

In keeping with the general Tickle College of Engineering requirement, all Biosystems Engineering undergraduate students are expected to have their own laptop computer. Please see the minimum computer requirements described at http://www.engr.utk.edu/ithelp/computers/.

Requirements for Admission, Readmission, and Transfer to the Program

Because the biosystems engineering program is accredited through the Tickle College of Engineering, students entering, being readmitted to, or transferring into the program must meet the conditions specified in the Tickle College of Engineering requirements found on the main Tickle College of Engineering page under the titles of College Admission Requirements , Readmission , and Transfer Students .

Progression Policies and Requirements

Progression of students to departmental upper-division courses is competitive and is based on the space available in the department. Factors considered include overall grade point average, performance in selected lower-division courses and evidence of satisfactory and orderly progress through the prescribed curriculum.

uTrack Requirements

Universal Tracking (uTrack) is an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA. uTrack requirements only affect full-time, degree-seeking students.

Term 1

Credit Hours 16

Term 1 Milestone Notes

Term 2

Credit Hours 18

Term 2 Milestone Notes

Credit Hours 15

Term 6 Milestone Notes

  • No milestones

Term 7

Credit Hours 14

Term 7 Milestone Notes

  • 2 Apply to graduate

Term 8

Credit Hours 15

Term 8 Milestone Notes

  • No milestones

Total Credit Hours 126


  1. A student initially placing into MATH 130  may take either MATH 130  (4 hours) + MATH 141 * (4 hours), or MATH 131  (3 hours) + MATH 132 * (3 hours) to qualify to move into MATH 142 *.
  2. Graduation requirements: a) achieve at least a 2.0 GPA in all BSE courses; b) only one BSE course with a grade of D+ or D may be used towards graduation; c) no BSE course with a grade of D- or F may be used for graduation; d) achieve at least a 2.0 GPA in the required math courses.
  3. Chosen from the Volunteer Core  list after consultation with advisor.

* Meets Volunteer Core Requirements .

Honors Concentration – Biosystems Engineering Pre-Professional

In addition to satisfying the requirements for the mechanical biosystems major pre-professional concentration, candidates for the honors biosystems engineering pre-professional concentration must also complete the following requirements:

  • maintain an overall cumulative GPA of at least 3.4
  • complete the first-year honors courses as described in the Undergraduate Catalog Tickle College of Engineering description
  • satisfy the Breadth Requirements for the Cook Grand Challenge Honors Program

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