Chemical and biological engineers use concepts from the biological sciences to inspire and guide the development and production of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and advanced biomaterials. Without the discoveries of chemical and biological engineers, we wouldn’t have X-rays, ultrasound, EKGs, and the thousands of high-tech procedures and devices that diagnose conditions, sustain health, and fight disease.
With a degree in chemical and biological engineering, you can make a difference and help save lives by developing methods to spur the growth and regeneration of tissues, developing radiation treatments that fight cancer, or designing incubators that keep premature babies alive. Outside the world of medicine, you can contribute to the health of our planet by developing better technology in the fields of alternative energy, agriculture and environmental science. This is a great degree choice for students planning to go on to medical or graduate school for advanced degrees that lead to careers in research and development.
Curious about the classes you'll take as a chemical and biological engineering major? Have a look at the sample undergraduate curriculum.
The University of Colorado Boulder’s chemical and biological engineering undergraduate program emphasizes open-ended problems, computer applications, and undergraduate research. The program is characterized by a high degree of faculty-student interactions, both inside and outside the classroom. More than half of undergraduate students participate in research in biotechnology, biomedical and tissue engineering, and pharmaceutical engineering. The department also features a well-established co-op program, which allows students to gain professional experience and often leads to job offers. In addition to the standard chemical and biological engineering degree program, a pre-medicine curriculum is also defined. Students can gain professional exposure through student chapters of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Biomedical Engineering Society on campus.
The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering is one of the top departments in the nation in terms of research. The faculty has won numerous awards for their research accomplishments in a variety of research areas that span from biological engineering to functional materials. The department hosts four interdisciplinary research centers including the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels, the Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, the Center for Fundamentals and Applications of Photopolymerization, and the Center for Membrane Applied Science and Technology.
Undergraduate students are encouraged to pursue research opportunities through independent study, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, the Discovery Learning Apprenticeship program, or research assistantships with faculty. The department offers a Senior Thesis Option as well as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) summer program sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Chemical and biological engineering graduates are working at bio-based companies such as CaridianBCT, OPX Biotechnologies, and SomaLogic, as well as energy companies like Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Shell. Many also choose to go onto graduate school. About 20 percent of CU-Boulder engineering bachelor’s graduates (college-wide) continue onto graduate school, gaining admittance to top schools such as MIT, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, University of California Berkeley, and the University of Texas at Austin.Where do CU
Biomedical engineers are expected to have a much faster than average growth rate, with employment projected to increase 72 percent or more through 2018. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The average salary nationally for chemical and biomedical engineering graduates with a bachelor's degree in 2010 was $49,690. CU-Boulder graduates with a bachelor's degree in chemical and biological engineering reported an average starting offer of $52,050.