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College of Engineering offers state’s only bioengineering concentration

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has launched a new concentration for chemical engineering majors who envision careers in fields such as the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries, environmental remediation and renewable energy.

Registration is under way for UL Lafayette’s new bioengineering concentration. Courses will begin this fall for the concentration, the only program of its kind in Louisiana.

Dr. Ahmed Khattab, dean of the University’s College of Engineering, said the concentration was created for students interested in a range of careers related to bioengineering, a broad field that encompasses biomedical, biological and biochemical engineering.

“As with all of our engineering degree offerings and programs, the bioengineering concentration is in place to equip our students with knowledge and skills that will enable them to hit the ground running once they graduate,” Khattab explained.

“In this case, that sort of career-readiness is essential in a biotechnology marketplace that’s growing rapidly due to the emergence of newer technologies and an aging national population,” he added.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for bioengineers and biomedical engineers is projected to increase 5 percent through 2029.

Dr. Rafael Hernandez, head of the college’s Department of Chemical Engineering, said the bioengineering concentration is structured to provide students with expertise that will help them succeed in a range of jobs. Those jobs include creating medical, diagnostic and therapeutic devices, and developing pharmaceutical products, food supplements and preservatives.

“A significant number of our recent graduates have entered the pharmaceutical industry – including some who are contributing to COVID-19 vaccine production. But bolstering employment opportunities in that area isn’t the only impetus for the bioengineering concentration,” Hernandez said.

“It’s also tailored for students who plan to work in wastewater treatment, converting biomass to energy, fermentation operations and many other areas.”

The curriculum features a blend of courses and labs that focus on subjects such as biomaterials and biomedical engineering, biomechanics, biochemical engineering, biomass conversion, pharmaceutical operations, biochemistry, human anatomy and physiology.

As a whole, Khattab said, the concentration simply provides an additional means for UL Lafayette students interested in working in bioengineering fields to position themselves for career success.

He singled out UL Lafayette chemical engineering majors minoring in biomedical engineering and bioprocess engineering as examples of some students who could potentially benefit from pursuing the bioengineering concentration.

“Their bachelor’s degrees would provide a thorough academic foundation, the minors in either area would provide specialized expertise, the benefit of adding the bioengineering concentration is that it would pave the way for them to branch out more easily,” Khattab explained.

Photo caption: The College of Engineering's new bioengineering concentration is designed to prepare graduates for careers in fields such as biomedical and pharmaceutical industries, environmental remediation and renewable energy. (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

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