The Top Seven Reasons:

1)  Student-to-Professor Ratio
2)  Our Award-Winning Tradition!
3)  Substantial Pool of Scholarship Money
4)  Knowledgeable, Approachable Professors
5)  Opportunities in a Global Economy
6)  Experience Exciting Projects (and Earn Money!) as an Undergrad
7)  Work With Cutting-Edge Technology & Equipment 

1) Student to Professor Ratio

You'll never be just a number in UT's Biosystems Engineering Program!  Our Student-to-Professor ratio of roughly 8 to 1 is among the best you'll find anywhere.  By maintaining these low numbers, we ensure that our students have access to our faculty for academic counseling, assistance with coursework, or friendly conversation!  Graduating students consistently rank our outstanding, caring faculty as one of the strengths of our department.

Every student entering the program is assigned a faculty advisor.  The advisor assists the student in the selection of both required and elective classes and helps design a program geared to the student's needs and career objectives.  The student-advisor relationship provides an avenue for the student to become familiar with faculty and departmental activities, and to discover opportunities for internships and permanent employment.

2) Our Award-Winning Tradition!

National Championships at the University of Tennessee are not limited to our sports teams.  UT's Biosystems Engineering students have distinguished themselves in recent national design competitions.  The 1996 design team won the 3rd Annual Padnos Design Competition, and UT's 1998 design team placed 2nd in the inaugural ASABE 1/4-Scale Tractor Design Competition.  All told, since 1996, our Senior engineering design teams have placed first once, second twice, and third twice in national competitions.  Some of the award-winning presentations are available online.

Awards in our department are not limited to the senior design teams.  UT's Biosystems Engineering student brought home 1st place in the ASAE Equipment Manufacturers Institute (EMI) Trophies Competition in 1999.  This award recognized UT as having the top student branch (with less than 33 members) in the country!  We also received two first place awards in UT's 2008 Engineer's Day competition.  Come join our championship team in Biosystems Engineering!

3) Substantial Pool of Scholarship Money

Biosystems Engineering students are eligible for scholarship money from both the University and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR).  While University scholarships are quite competitive, CASNR has one of UT's most well-funded scholarship programs.  Approximately 40% of undergraduate students in the College received awards, with an average annual award of $1,700. The College distributes nearly $600,000 in scholarship funds annually (in contrast, for example, fewer scholarship dollars are distributed among significantly more students in the College of Engineering). See our Scholarship info page for more information about applying.

4) Knowledgeable, Approachable Professors

Professors in our department are both knowledgeable and approachable.  All Biosystems Engineering faculty are directly involved in teaching, research, and public service.  Several have extensive experience in industry, and all are actively interested and involved in student development.  Faculty members specialize in one or more of the following areas:  irrigation, erosion control, bioprocessing, electronic data acquisition and controls, structures, food engineering, waste management, machine design, biosensors, chemical application equipment, and sensor design & development.  Several of our faculty members have gained national recognition for their work and serve on national committees for standards development.  

The student-faculty relationship is very strong in UT's Biosystems Engineering program.  Professors assist the students in countless ways, sometimes working late into the night alongside the students to complete some project or prepare for a design competition.  The success that our students have enjoyed during the past five years (see Reason #2) is a testament to both the quality of our students AND the quality of our faculty, since it is these faculty members who have educated and advised the award-winning, student teams.  Join UT's Biosystems Engineering Team!

5) The Opportunities for Biosystems Engineers in a Global Economy

Feeding the ever-growing world population is one of the world's emerging challenges.  While the U.S. has an abundant and safe food supply, other countries are struggling to provide enough food to feed their people.  Conserving our precious natural resources and protecting the environment are both national and global challenges.   Biosystems engineers at the University of Tennessee are trained to tackle these and other challenges.  Courses in irrigation, machine and component design, electronics, and GPS/GIS provide the tools to design more efficient agricultural equipment, improve yields, and determine optimal agricultural management practices all over the world.  Students with training in these areas typically work for equipment manufacturers, research agencies, or food processing firms.  Students interested in the environment take courses in soil and water conservation, waste management system design, and bioprocess system design.  These students are prepared to work for environmental consulting firms, the Peace Corps, or governmental agencies to address environmental issues all across the globe.  

6) Opportunity to Work on Exciting Projects as an Undergrad

You won't spend all your time learning from books in UT's Biosystems Engineering program.  Our professors understand the importance of hands-on learning, and laboratory work is a crucial element of most classes.  Undergraduate students also have the opportunity to work as student assistants on a variety of projects.  These student assistants work side-by-side with our professors, assisting them with research.  This provides two things - 1) valuable engineering experience that will help you get a job and 2) money to help pay for your tuition or provide a little extra spending money.  All student assistants are paid on an hourly rate, with most working around ten hours per week.   As a senior, you will work with other Biosystems students on an engineering team to solve a real-life problem.  Our two-semester capstone design experience (Biosystems Engineering 401, 402) requires student teams (2-4 seniors per team) to select a problem, research its background and possible solutions, perform extensive engineering analyses, submit a written proposal, and then solve the problem as outlined in your proposal.  This sequence culminates with a written summary, an oral presentation, and submission of the design to a national engineering competition.  Final presentations from several past years are archived here.

7) Work with Cutting Edge Technology & Equipment

Biosystems engineering students work with the latest & greatest technologies available.  Our students are trained in 3-D modeling on AutoDesk's Mechanical Desktop software, and it is available for their use in our computer labs.  Our students have access to three computer labs in our facilities, totaling over 50 computers. 

Students in the Water Quality and Environmental Bioprocessing labs utilize gas and ion chromatography and other advanced laboratory equipment and practices.  In BsE 451 - Electronic Systems, students are introduced to a variety of analog and digital chips, microprocessors, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) receivers, and a Universal Testing Machine.  In recent years students have developed control programs for the PIC microprocessor to complete their final projects in BsE 451.    Graduate students have the opportunity to work with additional cutting-edge equipment.  Students studying under Dr. Robert Freeland are utilizing Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Electro-Magnetic Imaging (EMI) with GPS to identify and map soils non-intrusively.  Students working in Instrumentation and Sensors with Dr. John Wilkerson are developing real-time sensors for a variety of applications.  These are just a few of the exciting opportunities available in Biosystems Engineering.  Come explore these cutting-edge technologies with us!

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