(513a) Integrating Biology into the Che DNA

Authors: 
Kelly, R. M. - Presenter, North Carolina State University


Over the past 50 years, elements of the life sciences have gradually made their way into the undergraduate and graduate chemical engineering curricula. This pace has accelerated in the last decade, driven by scientific and technological developments, ranging from genomics to biomaterials to biofuels. At this point in time, with many Chemical Engineering academic departments adding ?biology? to their moniker, it is clear that the life sciences will remain in the ChE educational fabric for the foreseeable future. However, the integration of biology into the ?ChE DNA? is still a work in progress. Many approaches have been tried, some with more success than others.

It is interesting as a retrospective to consider how biology has been inserted, both explicitly and implicitly, into Chemical Engineering education over the last half century and where things stand today. Many questions arise. What has worked and not worked? Have we gone too far or not far enough? How can the fixed number of credits in the typical undergraduate curriculum accommodate the incorporation of biological concepts? What are the current educational needs and are these being met?

Discussed here will be a historical perspective on the place of biology in Chemical Engineering education. Also considered is the potential leadership role that Chemical Engineering departments can play in campus-wide efforts to educate students (not just ChEs) in aspects of modern biology and biotechnology.

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