GRADUATE PROGRAM

The department offers graduate study leading to the degree of Master of Science in Biological Engineering. Current areas of research interests within the department are applied systems engineering, bioprocess engineering, bioenvironmental engineering, post-harvest handling, automation of tropical fruit, nut, and flower production, aquacultural engineering, and biosensor engineering.

Program Emphasis

The base of knowledge in biological science and engineering is being expanded at a rapid rate. Meeting emerging challenges in Biological Engineering requires an increasingly interdisciplinary approach where students must understand not only fundamental engineering principles but also the molecular mechanisms underlying complex biological systems. The administration of the Biological Engineering programs under the Molecular Bioscience and Biological Engineering Department of the University of Hawaii at Manoa allows unique collaborative opportunities to transform this knowledge into commercial products and useful technologies. The graduate program in Biological Engineering integrates biological science and engineering for design, fabrication, or operation of systems with a significant biological component. Some of the most notable areas where the expertise of Biological Engineering is needed include environmental protection, safe and sustainable food production, development of alternative biological energy sources, and biological processing of natural materials for medical and other high-valued applications.

Nine key program areas form the backbone of the department's graduate research and instruction. They are:

  • bioenvironmental engineering
  • bioprocess engineering
  • development of renewable (biological) energy
  • plant cell culture engineering
  • post-harvest handling
  • resource systems engineering
  • biosensor engineering
  • automation of food and crop processing
  • aquacultural engineering

Typical research projects include development of plant cell and recombinant microbial processes for the production of high- value products, treatment of waste water using entrapped microbial cells, automated micropropagation of commercially important crops, development of integrated aquaculture systems for reduced environmental pollution, feed processing, natural resource management, production systems planning and management, development of rapid diagnostics for foodborne and agricultural pathogens, and modeling and simulation of crop production systems.

The M.S. program is designed to prepare students for career opportunities in the field of Biological Engineering or for further study in a Ph.D. degree program. The primary objective of the program is to provide students with training in research methods, problem analysis and solution, and with current knowledge concerning the application of Biological Engineering.

Another objective is to provide students with a sufficiently broad range of research techniques to permit them to initiate their own inquiries. Independent, critical, and imaginative thinking is an overall objective of the program.

To achieve these objectives, the program has five student learning outcomes describing specific skills and competencies that students are expected to possess by the time of graduation. These outcomes include:

  • a. The graduate has the ability to design a system, component, or process in which biology plays a significant role;
  • b. The graduate has the ability to design and conduct experiments to gather information for engineering designs;
  • c. The graduate has the ability to use modern engineering techniques, skills, and tools to define, formulate, and solve engineering problems;
  • d. The graduate has the ability to communicate effectively to a technical audience from diverse areas of expertise, and;
  • e. The graduate recognizes the need to engage in life-long learning through participation in professional conferences, workshops, and courses, and by reading and writing in the relevant literature.
  • Facilities

    The department has excellent office and laboratory facilities. Modern research laboratories are available for all our department programs, including a well-equipped machine shop, an instructional lab, an electronic instruments lab, a waste management and bioenvironmental engineering lab, a bioprocess engineering lab, cell culture room, micropropagation lab, crop-processing test area, and an aquacultural engineering lab. Computing facilities, including on-line terminals and up-to-date microcomputers, are readily accessible to graduate students.

    Financial Assistance

    A number of research assistantships are available to qualified graduate students for work on departmental research projects. Research assistants receive stipends on a half-time, 11-month basis. Work completed under a research assistantship can be used to satisfy part of the Master's thesis requirement. Additional benefits include exemption from tuition and out-of-state fees, free life insurance, and a state supported health insurance plan.

    A limited number of tuition waivers are also available from the University's Graduate Division to full-time students who are recommended by the department. The neighboring East-West Center offers graduate study scholarships that include transportation costs and basic living and educational expenses, which can be awarded to highly qualified candidates for full-time graduate studies. Both Asian nationals and American citizens are eligible. Support for field studies in Asia or the Pacific area is normally included in the grant. You can obtain more information on East-West Center graduate scholarships from the Center's Office of Student Affairs and Open Grants, East-West Center, 1777 East-West Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96848.

    Admission Requirements

    The basic requirement for admission to the graduate program in Biological Engineering is a Bachelor of Science degree from an accredited engineering program or its equivalent, with at least a B grade point average. If you have an undergraduate degree in a non-engineering field of the physical or biological sciences, you may be considered for admission on the condition that you complete specific prerequisite courses in engineering and mathematics.

    Applicants to University of Hawaii at Manoa graduate programs can now apply online by visiting the website at www.hawaii.edu/graduate and clicking on "Apply Online." Applicants may also pay by credit card via this new online application. Paper form applications continue to be an option.

    Biological Engineering courses as well as courses from the related fields of engineering, agriculture, and sciences may be utilized to fulfill the minimum requirement of 30 credit hours. Both Plan A (thesis) and Plan B (non-thesis) are available.

    Plan A

    • Twenty-one (21) course credits and 9 thesis research credits.
    • Directed Research (course 699) and Thesis (course 700) cannot be used to satisfy course credit requirements.
    • Twelve (12) or more course credits must be at 600 level or above.
    • Twelve (12) or more course credits must be in Biological Engineering courses; of these, 9 must be earned in courses numbered 600-698 Biological Engineering.
    • One Graduate Seminar in Biological Engineering.
    • Pass a final oral examination administered by a committee of three or more graduate faculty, chaired by the student's thesis advisor.
    • Enrolled in the graduation semester. If all other course work is completed, one credit of BE 700 must be taken in the graduation semester.

    Plan B

    • Twenty-seven (27) course credits and 3 credits of Directed Research (course 699) on a Design or research project.
    • The Directed Research (course 699) cannot be used to satisfy course credit requirements.
    • Eighteen (18) or more course credits must be at 600 level or above.
    • Eighteen (18) ore more course credits must be in Biological Engineering of these, 12 must be in course numbered 600-698.
    • One Graduate Seminar in Biological Engineering
    • Pass a final oral examination administered by a committee of three or more graduate faculty, chaired by the student's advisor.
    • Enrolled in the graduation semester. If all other course work is completed, one credit of BE 500 must be taken in the graduation semester.

    Your request for admission and for further information in the graduate program in Biological Engineering can be made directly to:

    Contact Information
    Samir Khanal, PhD, PE
    Graduate Chair, Biological Engineering
    University of Hawaii at Manoa
    1955 East West Rd. (Agricultural Science), Rm. 218
    Honolulu, HI 96822
    Tel: (808) 956-3812
    Fax: (808) 956-3542
    E-mail: khanal@hawaii.edu


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