Chemical Engineering: Bioengineering program

What is Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering?

Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering is a new and unique 5 year programme offered in the Department of Chemical Engineering at McMaster University leading to the degree Bachelor of Engineering and Biosciences. It combines the core Chemical Engineering undergraduate curriculum with courses from the biological sciences as well as Chemical Engineering specific courses in areas related to bioengineering. Chemical Engineers use the basic principles of chemistry, mathematics, physics, biology and economics combined with skills in computers to design, operate and troubleshoot processes that are used in the manufacture of materials that are the building blocks of almost everything around us. Graduates from the Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering programme will have these basic chemical engineering skills coupled with unique qualifications in the biological sciences that will allow them make significant contributions to the growing fields of biotechnology and bioengineering.

Career opportunities

The graduates from this new and unique programme will be qualified to make significant contributions to Canada’s expanding biotechnology industry. Canada current has the second highest number of biotechnology companies in the world, following the United States. This industry is currently concentrated in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia and is currently poised for significant expansion with our aging population, need for better pharmaceutical products and our growing awareness of the importance of the environment and our desire to minimize the impact of current processes on the environment.Graduates from the programme will participate in the development of better, more biocompatible biomedical devices, more efficacious pharmaceuticals with fewer side effects, more efficient and improved environmental processes and better methods for the production of food and beverages. Since graduates from the programme will also have all of the core courses in Chemical Engineering, they will also be able to do traditional chemical engineering jobs in fields such as petrochemicals, polymers, process control and pulp and paper.

Our curriculum

Students in the regular Chemical Engineering programme develop a strong foundation in basic sciences and have the opportunity to participate in courses aimed at developing problem solving, team, self-assessment and lifelong learning skills. In addition to this, the Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering programme is structured to include courses in biology, human anatomy and physiology, biochemistry of macromolecules, cellular and molecular biology and the application of biological processes to Chemical Engineering through courses in bioseparations and bioreactors.The courses have been integrated to allow the students to make links between their Chemical Engineering knowledge and its application in the biotechnology industries. There will be a significant laboratory component related to biology and biochemistry that will give the students the skills to succeed in a biologically oriented environment. Similar to the core Chemical Engineering programme, the Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering programme will allow the students to select from a variety of focused technical electives in their fourth and fifth years of study based on the research interests of the various faculty involved in the programme, including courses in biomaterials and tissue engineering, biological wastewater treatment, biological membrane separations, biosensors and biological pharmaceutical production. The curriculum has been designed to cover a wide scope giving maximum flexibility to the students, allowing them to graduate with the degree Bachelor of Engineering and Bioscience and giving them maximum flexibility to pursue their interests in their careers.

Class sizes

It is anticipated that 25 students will be admitted to Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering at McMaster. This will be in addition to our current class size of approximately 40 students, meaning that in some courses there will be as many as 65 students, but in others there will be as few as 25 students. Students in the Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering programme will also be taking a significant number of courses in other departments and it is anticipated that class sizes may be significantly higher in some of these courses. However, in these classes, there will also be the opportunity for interaction with students from other programmes, fostering the interdisciplinary nature of the programme.

What kinds of courses will students in the Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering programme take?

In the second, third and fourth years of the programme, students will take the core Chemical Engineering courses in thermodynamics, heat transfer, mass transfer, fluid flow, separation and reactor design as well as courses in mathematics and chemistry. In addition to this, students will take courses in cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry of macromolecules, microbiology, human anatomy and physiology as well as courses in bioreactors and bioseparations. In the fourth and fifth years of the programme, students will have the opportunity to select from a variety of technical electives (list A and list B) in both traditional areas of chemical engineering (such as process control, polymer reaction engineering and polymer processing) as well as technical electives offered by the faculty whose research areas are in bioengineering including courses in biomaterials, tissue engineering, biological water treatment, biosensors and others. Students in the fifth year of the programme also have the opportunity to do a focused undergraduate thesis with the supervisor of their choice.

Will it be difficult to get into the programme?

It is anticipated that admission to this programme will be competitive, as the level of interest is very high.

How demanding will the programme be compared with the regular Chemical Engineering programme?

The addition of courses in the biological sciences to the regular chemical engineering curriculum means that this programme will be demanding. However, this course load is spread over a five year period which should alleviate some problems with the course load. The programme is similar to the Chemical Engineering and Management programme, so it is expected that the course loads will be similar.

Will I be able to do Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering along with a Management or Society programme?

No. The course load and the demand will mean that a dual degree in these different areas will not be allowed. However, it should be noted that many of our students who are currently registered in Chemical Engineering and Society have opted for their minor to be focused in the biological sciences. This degree will give another option to those students who are interested in pursuing a career in the biotech sector with the benefit of permitting them to take a wide variety of courses from different departments.

Will I need to do a senior biology course in high school?

The prerequisites for some of the courses in biology or biochemistry require a senior high school biology course.

Will I still be able to get a traditional chemical engineering job?

Because all of the courses in the core Chemical Engineering curriculum will be taken, students graduating with the degree Bachelor of Engineering and Biosciences will have all of the qualifications necessary for them to obtain employment in more traditional chemical engineering fields.

Possible careers

Graduates from McMaster Chemical Engineering are currently working at a variety of jobs in the biotechnology sector. Biotechnology companies currently employing McMaster Chemical Engineering graduates include AstraPharma, Bodycote Ortech, and Zenon Environmental for example. Therefore we anticipate that graduates from this programme will be in demand in Canada’s growing biotechnology sector due to their unique training in both engineering and biology. Other students may opt to proceed to advanced degrees including Master of Applied Science (M.A.Sc.), Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Chemical Engineers from McMaster have also in the past pursued further degrees in medicine, dentistry, law, business or teaching.

What is special about Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering at McMaster?

Our Faculty and Staff

Students in this programme will have the opportunity to interact with professors who are dedicated and accomplished teachers and who are at the cutting edge of their respective research fields. There are currently a number of faculty doing research in the area of biological and biomedical engineering and McMaster’s research in this area is gaining a worldwide reputation. These faculty members will be responsible for teaching the bioengineering portion of the curriculum.

Our Facilities

We can boast state of the art, newly updated laboratory facilities that include a growing number of laboratories in the bioengineering field. Our students have access to a new and expanding department computer facility and training on the programmes that are the current industry standard.

Our programme

The Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering programme is unique in that it gives the students the core undergraduate chemical engineering training required for a career in traditional chemical engineering industry and a specialized complement of courses in the biological sciences that will permit students access to all areas of biotechnology.