Biological Engineering Major

Practical, solution-oriented engineering.

A hands-on approach to an engineering education with real-world challenges and sustainability always at the forefront. Grads take leadership roles in manufacturing organizations, engineering firms, nonprofits, and government agencies, and continue on to success in graduate school.

Penn State Engineering. Penn State Ag. Enjoy the best of both worlds.

This is a Penn State engineering degree. You'll benefit from the rigor, depth, prestige, and enormous resources of the College of Engineering and the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Our focus is creating solutions to sustainability challenges in food production, biological processing, and natural resource protection. World-class faculty move from behind the podium and challenge you to roll up your sleeves and harness engineering principles to make our food, fiber, and water systems and products more efficient, sustainable, and healthy, and less wasteful.

Biological Engineering is the right major if you’re: 

  • interested in applying engineering skills and analyses to biological systems
  • looking to advance technology to improve production
  • passionate about stewarding the environment
Penn State student engineering a piece of equipment.

One major. Three options. Infinite destinations.

Student inspecting agricultual machinery.

Agricultural Engineering option

Build your interest in machinery systems and structural design. Grads work for agricultural and industrial equipment manufacturers and engineering firms, and continue to graduate school.

Example Courses

  • Design of Fluid Power Systems
  • Agricultural Measurements and Control Systems
  • Structural Systems in Agriculture
  • Machines for Agricultural and Biological Processing
  • Design Principles for Bio-Mechatronic Systems
    Food and Biological Process Engineering student processing a test sample in the lab.

    Food and Biological Process Engineering option

    Design sustainable and efficient processes to make food and other bioproducts. Grads work for food and pharmaceutical manufacturers, and biotechnology firms, and continue on to grad school.

    Example Courses

    • Bioenergy Systems Engineering
    • Engineering Elements of Biochemistry and Microbiology
    • Food and Biological Process Engineering
    • Engineering Properties of Food and Biological Materials
    • Microbiological Engineering
      Penn State Natural Resource Engineering students crossing a river

      Natural Resource Engineering option

      Explore environmental protection from agricultural runoff, contaminated stormwater and flood water, and other nonpoint source pollution. Grads work for service and regulatory agencies, and environmental consulting firms, and continue on to grad school.

      Example Courses

      • Measurement and Monitoring of Hydrologic Systems
      • Design of Stormwater and Erosion Control Facilities
      • Watershed Modeling for Water Quality Design
      • Land-Based Waste Disposal
      • Principles of Soil and Water Engineering

      Ag Journeys

      “Engineering is a puzzle. Penn State teaches you to put the pieces together.”

      –Landis Crawford

      Out of the classroom and into the world.

      At Penn State, there are more opportunities to learn, meet professionals working in your field, network, and have more fun than you can imagine.

      The same goes with our internship opportunities. Companies compete to bring Penn Staters onboard for the summer, and many students return to campus with a summer of practical experience and often a job offer waiting in the wings. There are research opportunities, study abroad opportunities, and more to gain experience and academic credit.

      Craft your experience.

      Related clubs and teams 

      • American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (Penn State Branch)
      • Penn State Pullers
      • Society for Industrial Biotechnology
      • Society of Women Engineers
      • See all clubs and teams

      Recent internships  

      • Associate engineer
      • Drivetrain test engineer
      • Hydraulic systems engineer
      • Production engineer
      • Scientific and technical engineering intern
      • Stream restoration intern

      Study abroad

      • Semester abroad at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia 
      • Bioproducts tour and workshop, Germany
      • Semester abroad at University College Dublin, Ireland 
      • Summer travel to Africa with Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program—projects such as transforming invasive species into sustainable fuel source (Kenya) and affordable greenhouses (Sierra Leone, Zambia)  
      • Spring-break travel to Kenya for baobab-processing project as part of Engineering Leadership Development minor 
      • Summer research intern at the University of Costa Rica
      The Louvre, Paris
      Biological engineering students enjoying the vistas of mountains and grassland.
      Biological engineering students on a study abroad program.

      A practical, workforce-ready degree—and a college experience you’ll love.

      Penn State Biological Engineering grads are on the job, in the boardroom, out in the field, at the drafting table, in front of the classroom, all over the world, right now.

      Our alumni out in the world

      • Bio-based product development companies
      • Environmental engineering consulting firms
      • Food processing companies
      • Off-road machinery development companies
      • Materials handling companies
      • Soil and water protection agencies

      Biological Engineering Career Options

      Harness the power of a truly unique education at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. Here are just a few career examples in the biological engineering field:

      Food process engineer

      A food process engineer designs equipment and creates processes for the commercial food industry.

      What will I do?

      • Design food processing, handling, and packaging equipment
      • Ensure all projects are managed properly and delivered within cost and performance success criteria
      • Assess the need for new processes or equipment, and observe equipment to see if it is working properly

      Natural resource engineer

      Natural resource engineers use the principles of engineering, soil science, hydrology, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems.

      What will I do?

      • Design and troubleshoot stormwater and erosion control facilities
      • Develop strategies to address environmental issues such as water pollution

      Agricultural engineer

      Agricultural engineers solve problems concerning power systems, machinery, structures and facilities, and the storage and processing of agricultural products.

      What will I do?

      • Design equipment, systems, or structures
      • Oversee construction and production operations
      • Plan and work together with clients, contractors, consultants, and other engineers to ensure effective and desirable outcomes