posted on Jan. 11: New 5-year program combines chemical engineering, biosciences


Senate has approved the creation of a new five-year program in chemical engineering and bioengineering.

The unique program, expected to attract up to 25 students, would combine the experience of a traditional chemical engineering degree with the additional background required for a career in bioengineering industries or graduate studies.

Students, who would graduate with a bachelor of engineering & biosciences, could pursue careers in the food and beverage industry, biomedical devices and environmental and pharmaceutical industries.

The program is structured to include courses on biology, human anatomy, physiology, biochemical metabolic processes, biochemistry of macromolecules and cellular biology. It will also cover the application of biological processes to engineering in new courses such as bioreactors.

Canada has the second highest number of biotechnology companies in the world (the U.S. is first) and the industry is concentrated in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, an Undergraduate Council report notes.

The industry is comprised of small, entrepreneurial companies of 50 or fewer employees, who concentrate on research and development, the report said.

Senate's approval to set up the new program is subject to the acquisition of new faculty and additional funding for six teaching assistantships, lab support and equipment.

Two new faculty members have been hired to teach in the new program: Raja Ghosh, a bioseparations expert, and Carlos Filipe, with expertise in environmental, water treatment and cell biology. They join chemical engineering professor Heather Sheardown, a biomaterials expert and John Brash, University Professor. Three more faculty members are needed to mount the new courses.

Students enrolled in the program will complete a full four-year chemical engineering degree and an additional 40 units of biology, biochemistry, human physiology and bioengineering courses.