Biological Systems Engineering

Biological Systems Engineering, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Students construct a tensegrity model in an engineering lab.
Classmates construct a tensegrity model — a structure held together using isolated floating compression in Agricultural Engineering Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

Advisor: Students are assigned to an academic advisor once they declare the BSE major. For further information about the Biological Systems Engineering major, please contact: Betsy Wood; Departmental Office: 460 Henry Mall; (608) 262-3310;;

Field of Study: Biological Systems Engineering is the application of engineering principles to biological and agricultural systems.  The mission of the Biological Systems Engineering Undergraduate Programs is to provide a technology-advanced, biology based engineering education that will enable students to design and implement efficient and environmentally sensitive methods of producing and processing food, fiber and renewable energy resources for and ever-increasing world population.  We are the original sustainable systems engineering discipline.  Biological Systems Engineering faculty and staff are dedicated to educating people to meet the engineering, management, technical sales, and service needs of the agriculture and food industry. We do this by advancing science through an active research program, teaching engineering students, and disseminating research findings through extension programs.

Possible Careers: Many students are unaware of Biological Engineering as a discipline, and may wonder what we do. Biological systems engineers design, manage, and develop systems and equipment that produce, package, process, and distribute the world’s food and fiber supplies.  Our students go on to careers in companies that supply machinery and buildings to food, feed, fiber and fuel production and processing systems, governmental organizations involved in environmental quality issues, environmental consulting firms and many other private and public sector jobs.

Special Opportunities & Additional Information

Students can specialize within the major with options in: 

  • Natural Resources and Environment Engineering
  • Food and Bioprocess Engineering
  • Machinery Systems Engineering
  • Structural Systems Engineering
Selected Required courses for the Degree:
  • Intro Biology: BSE 349 AND Biology 151 OR Zoology 153 OR Botany 130 OR Zoology 101 OR Microbio 101 or 303
  • Calculus: Math 221, 222, 234, 320
  • General Chemistry: Chem 103-104  or Chem 109
  • Organic Chemistry: Required for Food and Bioprocess Engineers
  • Physics: EMA 201 and Physics 202
  • Statistics: Stats 224 or 324