The Biochemical Engineering Major
High Demand and Increasing Need
Biochemical engineers are in high demand in the rapidly growing biotechnology/pharmaceutical, biofuels and biorefinery industries. As the biotechnology industry expands and matures, there is increasing need for engineers who can move products from the research stage to the pilot scale and ultimately to large scale manufacturing. As they fill this need, engineers must understand the production, purification, and regulatory issues surrounding biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Biochemical engineers are also critical for the development and commercialization of sustainable and economic processes to produce liquid transportation fuels from biomass, algae and waste streams from other manufacturing processes. Future “biorefineries” will include coproduction of a wide range of chemical feedstocks, oils, and polymers thereby contributing to the economic viability of larger volume, lower valued compounds such as biofuels.
Creating Solutions for Today's Challenges
Biochemical engineers—with their strong foundations in chemistry, biological sciences, and chemical process engineering—are in a unique position to tackle these problems. Biochemical engineers apply the principles of cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, and engineering to develop, design, scale-up, optimize, and operate processes that use living cells, organisms, or biological molecules for the production and purification of products (such as monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, therapeutic proteins, antibiotics, industrial enzymes, ethanol and more complex biofuels); for health and/or environmental monitoring (such as diagnostic kits, microarrays, biosensors); or for environmental improvement (such as bioremediation). An understanding of biological processes is also becoming increasingly important in the industries that traditionally employ chemical engineers, such as the materials, chemicals, food, energy, fuels, and semiconductor processing industries.