Biotechnology Engineering: When Biology and Physical Sciences Come Together to Make Lives Better
Biotechnology engineering is a discipline that integrates biology and physics to solve problems in medicine, industry, and agriculture. The main objective of this discipline is to develop the necessary knowledge and expertise to design biotechnological processes for the production of useful products such as pharmaceuticals, crops, livestock, enzymes, proteins and biofuels.
Biotechnology has been around for millennia in the form of traditional practices such as brewing and cheese-making. In more recent history, biotechnology is known to have developed from what is called Genetic Engineering which involved the modification of organisms’ genes using modern techniques.
This is a technique that can be traced back to 1971 when the first recombinant DNA was made from E. coli and viral genes. In the 1980s, the production of human insulin by genetically modified bacteria became a reality.
Human growth hormones were produced in genetically engineered silkworms by 1990 and erythropoietin through genetic engineering was produced by Chinese hamster cells in 1985, paving the way for biotechnological advances in the distant future.
Since then, biotechnology has developed at a break-neck speed to produce genetically modified crops with pesticide and herbicide resistance. This has led to greater yields of crops, reduced costs for farmers and consumers alike, with no apparent ill effects on the environment or human health.
These examples illustrate that biotechnology can be used to solve many of our problems in food, medicine and the environment. The integration of the biological sciences with physics in the development of biotechnology has led to better lives for everyone.
Self-Assessment Quiz: Should I opt for Biotechnology Engineering Course?
- You love chemistry and biology and want to combine the two: YES/NO
If your answer is ‘yes’ then biotechnology or biotech engineering is definitely for you. Biotech engineers use their knowledge of biological systems and physical sciences to develop new medical devices, diagnostic tests, therapies, and procedures. The result is that they contribute to the health and welfare of people across the globe.
- You are thinking about a career in biotech engineering because you want to help people live longer, healthier lives: YES/NO
Biotech engineers work with biological systems so it’s not surprising that many biotech engineers aspire to solve medical problems. Although this is one area where they can apply their knowledge, they can also create new products and processes that improve our lives.
- You think that the field of biotech is expanding, with great career opportunities: YES/NO
Biotech engineers are often responsible for designing bioreactors, purifying products using chromatography and sterilizing equipment to ensure that the products they produce are safe for use.
- You want a job where you can apply your scientific knowledge: YES/NO
Biotech engineers do more than just solve problems; they also design new medical devices and software treatments that may revolutionize medicine.
The demand for biotech engineers is growing faster than the average occupation, which means this could be your chance to ride the wave of employment opportunities in a new and emerging field.
Job Prospects for Biotechnology Engineers
The future looks very promising for biotechnology engineers who aim to improve people’s lives and solve critical problems in medicine, industry and agriculture. The rapidly growing and evolving field of biotech will offer many opportunities for those with the necessary qualifications to join the industry.
Not only is this a field that can be hugely rewarding from an employment perspective, but biotechnology engineers could be at the forefront of solving some of the biggest challenges in science today.
Employment Outlook for Biotechnology Engineers
In the US, the employment outlook for a biotechnology engineer is expected to rise considerably faster than average, with a 20% increase in jobs available between 2014-2024. This is much faster than the national average, which indicates that job prospects are very good.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were around 2,180 jobs available in 2014, increasing to 3,000 jobs per year by 2024.
The annual median pay for biotechnology engineers in 2014 was $87,680-$96,470.
Job Prospects beyond 2025
With further advancements in technology, the need for biotechnology engineers will continue to grow. The excellent job prospects are expected to remain strong across all areas of engineering, with particularly high growth rates expected in medical device manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.
Biotechnology Engineering is a dream career option for those who like chemistry, physics and biology equally. A student interested in this field should join a college offering these 3 subjects as a part of their degree course.
Where are Biotechnology Engineers in demand in India and abroad?
Biotechnology has a lot of scope for research, design and development. This is the reason why biotechnology engineering is in very high demand across India and abroad.
This applies to fields like agriculture, food technology, pharma, bioinformatics etc. Biotech engineers are in greater demand nowadays in developed countries like the US and the UK.
Top biotech companies where Biotechnology Engineers can apply include:
- Pfizer Inc.
- Bayer CropScience
- Amyris Biotechnologies
- Optimer Pharmaceuticals
- Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc
- HELIX OPCO LLC
- Syngenta Biotechnology
- Anthera Pharmaceuticals Inc.
- AstraZeneca plc
- Lonza Group Ltd
- AZZ Incorporated
- Givaudan Active Beauty
- CellCentric Ltd
- Theravance, Inc.
- OncoImmune Inc.
- SironRX Therapeutics, LLC
- Shire International GmbH & Co. KG (Shire)
- Aduro BioTech, Inc.
How to become a Biotechnology Engineer in India?
Indian universities offer degrees in Biotechnology Engineering. If you want to take admission in these degree programs, you must have a 10+2 with a minimum aggregate of 50% in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology/ Math/ both. For admission to a degree program in Biotechnology Engineering, you must have completed your 12th standard/HSC or equivalent examination from a Board recognized by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU).
Best Colleges in India to pursue Biotechnology Engineering
Here is a list of top colleges in India for Biotechnology Engineering:
- Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani
- Delhi Technological University
- Kurukshetra University
- Malaviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur
- Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra
- Institute of Technology and Science, Hyderabad
- Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIIT), Bengaluru
You can also do a diploma in Biotechnology Engineering.
Best Countries to Study Biotechnology Engineering
Here is a list of top countries to pursue Biotechnology Engineering:
The USA: Biotech industry in the United States is projected to grow by over 15 per cent by the end of 2020. Top universities for biotech research are MIT, Stanford University, Princeton University etc.
Europe: Europe has some of the top colleges offering degree programs in Biotechnology Engineering. The countries include Germany, Switzerland, France and Sweden among others.
China: China is one of the world’s largest biotechnology producers. So the scope is huge. Many Indian companies are already established in China.
Australia: The Australian government has allocated over $100 million towards biotechnology research and development annually. Many top universities are offering Biotechnology Engineering degree programs in Australia.
New Zealand: Top Universities including the University of Auckland, University of Otago offer STEM courses/degrees including Biotechnology.
Canada: University of British Columbia, McGill University are some top universities in Canada for Biotechnology Engineering.
The UK: The biotechnology industry in the UK has been growing by more than 3% yearly since 2000. The University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and Imperial College London are some top universities offering Biochemistry degree courses.
Switzerland: The education system is very pro-science and pro research. The top universities for Biotechnology Engineering include the Universities of Geneva, Zurich, Berne etc.
Norway: The government has allocated $2 billion to research in biotechnology fields annually since 2008. Research efforts are led by NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology).
Germany: Almost 8 per cent of Germany’s total R&D expenditure is on biotechnology. More than 5,50 universities offer Biotechnology Engineering degree programs in Germany.
Brazil: Brazil is another big biotech producer with more than 250 companies operating in the country. Top universities offering Biotech/Biotechnology courses are the Federal University of Paraiba, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Federal University of Minas Gerais etc.
Netherlands: The Netherlands is another European country with good scope for biotech research and development. Top universities offering Biotechnology related courses are Wageningen University, Utrecht University etc.
France: One of the top research universities in France is Pasteur Institute. France has over 75 biotechnology research institutes.
Spain: Biotech industry in Spain is thriving with support from the government. Top universities offering Biotech courses are the Technical University of Madrid, Carlos III University of Madrid etc.
South Africa: The University of Cape Town is one of the top universities offering Biotechnology courses.
Japan: Japan continues to be a strong contender in biotechnology research and development. Over 60 per cent of total international articles on biotechnology were from Japanese scientists. Tokyo University, Kyushu University are some top universities in Japan for biotech/biotechnology research.
Finland: Finland is very keen on biotech research. More than 20 biotech companies are operating in the country. Helsinki University of Technology (HUT) is one of the top universities offering a Biotechnology Engineering course.
Denmark: The Technical University of Denmark is one of the top universities offering Biotechnology courses.
Singapore: Singapore has emerged as a biotech hub in Asia with good scope for research and development. National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University are some top universities offering Biotechnology courses/degrees.
Vietnam: Vietnam is emerging as a biotech player, especially in healthcare products. More than 20 companies produce pharmaceuticals in the country.
Dubai: Dubai has emerged as a new centre for biotech R&D, especially in the fields of genomics, proteomics etc. Two universities are offering Biotechnology engineering degrees – the University of Dubai and Higher Colleges of Technology.