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College of Engineering

Biosystems Engineering


Biosystems Engineering

Program in KY


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Dr. Joseph Dvorak

Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies

Machine Systems Automation Engineering

College of Engineering

128 C.E. Barnhart Building

Lexington, KY 40546-0276

Program website

(859) 218-4349

  • BS

Biosystems engineers are trained in biological, environmental and engineering sciences and challenged to improve the sustainability of production systems, decrease or eliminate environmental hazards and preserve natural resources. Biosystems engineers devise practical, efficient solutions for producing, storing, transporting, processing and packaging biological and agricultural products. They solve problems related to systems, processes and machines that interact with humans, plants, animals, microorganisms and biological materials. They also develop solutions for responsible, alternative uses of biological products, byproducts and wastes and of our natural resources—soil, water, air and energy.

The University of Kentucky is the only college in Kentucky that offers Biosystems Engineering as an undergraduate major. The Biosystems Engineering program includes more specialty areas than other similar departments across the country too. This flexibility in the curriculum allows for each student to customize their technical electives to their future career goals. Undergraduate certificates are also available in power and energy as well as distillation, wine and brewing studies.

Biosystems Engineering Professor Sue Nokes and student

First-Year Engineering Program

The smartest, most talented engineers around the world are devoting themselves to tackling immense global challenges. As a First-Year Engineering (FYE) student, you get to join them!

In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering identified 14 “Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century”—opportunities to greatly increase humanity’s sustainability, health, security and joy of living. Themes include making solar energy economical, enhancing virtual reality, reverse-engineering the brain, securing cyberspace, providing access to clean water and more.

These ambitious goals demand engineers roll up their sleeves and get to work, which is why we put them front and center during your first year as an engineering student. We have designed the FYE program to inspire you. We want you to discover your passion. We want you to explore where you might make your unique contribution. We want you to get your hands dirty and make stuff that might, one day, lead to a breakthrough.

Why wait until you’re taking upper-level classes to figure out what interests you? Through real engineering classes taught by top faculty and exposure to engineering’s greatest challenges, the FYE program gets you into the game from day one.

Admission Requirements

Students may directly enroll as pre-engineering students; however, there are minimum admission requirements. Minimum freshman entry requirements are an ACT math score of 25 or higher (or a SAT math score of 590 or higher) and a 3.0 or higher unweighted high school GPA. Additionally, students must also meet the minimum Kentucky statewide academic readiness requirements for reading and writing. If you do not meet the initial admission requirements, please refer to the University of Kentucky Bulletin for alternative routes to admission to the College of Engineering.

Degree Requirements

In addition to fulfilling UK Core and College of Engineering requirements, students must complete the Biosystems Engineering curriculum. The following curriculum meets the requirements for the B.S. degree.

Experiential Education

Co-ops, internships, and undergraduate research are not required but are strongly encouraged so students learn important, career-related skills as early as possible. UK’s many study abroad opportunities are another way to gain global perspective. Through an exchange program between the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering and several universities in Brazil, junior or senior level undergraduate students can spend approximately six months experiencing the Brazilian culture, earning credits toward their degree, and learning Portuguese.

Student Involvement

The BAE Student Branch is the main student organization for Biosystems Engineering students. Students are encouraged to join one of the professional societies at the national level that best aligns with their area of interest. These professional organizations include the American Society of Agricultural & Biological Engineers (ASABE), the Institute of Biological Engineering (IBE) and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES).

The Wildcat Pulling Team provides a 360° engineering experience. The team is responsible for the designing, manufacturing and testing a quarter scale tractor. Each year the team travels to Peoria, Ill., for a week-long ASABE-sponsored competition, during which a panel of industry experts evaluate design and performance. UK’s team won the 2012, 2014 and 2015 national championships and has consistently placed in the top seven since 2002.

Alpha Epsilon is an honor society for outstanding agricultural, biological and food engineers. The objectives of the honor society are to promote the high ideals of the engineeringprofession, to give recognition to those who manifest worthy qualities of character, scholarship and professional attainment and to encourage and support the profession. Graduate students in the UK chapter sponsor a peer mentoring program for undergraduate students. 

Career Prospects in Biosystems Engineering

Depending on their interests while at UK, Biosystems Engineering graduates will be prepared to pursue careers in the following industries: natural resource conservation, environmental quality enhancement, machine systems engineering, controlled environment systems, biomedical engineering, medicine and veterinary medicine.

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Agricultural Engineers

Agricultural engineers attempt to solve agricultural problems concerning power supplies, the efficiency of machinery, the use of structures and facilities, pollution and environmental issues, and the storage and processing of agricultural products.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics | Click the link for more info.

Median Salary


per year in 2017

Number of Jobs


in 2017

10 Year Job Outlook


new jobs (average)

Work Environment

Agricultural engineers work in a variety of industries. Some work for the federal government, and others provide engineering contracting or consultation services, or work for agricultural machinery manufacturers. Although they work mostly in offices, they also may spend time traveling to agricultural settings.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Similar Occupations

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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  • Hydrologists
  • Industrial Engineers
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Dr. Joseph Dvorak

Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies

Machine Systems Automation Engineering

College of Engineering

128 C.E. Barnhart Building

Lexington, KY 40546-0276

(859) 218-4349