Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Subject: LCSH

Engineering--Study and teaching (Higher), Biology--Study and teaching (Higher)


Biology | Chemical Engineering | Civil Engineering | Engineering Education


Biology is playing an increasingly important role in many engineering fields. With the typical engineering program already having a high credit hour requirement, the question becomes, how to best integrate biology concepts into a packed engineering curriculum. A typical biology course is not likely to introduce the important concepts of biology to engineering students. The solution here is to develop a hybrid course that integrates chemistry and biology. In the course, Chemistry with Applications to Biosystems, the concept is to develop a course that integrally links important concepts of chemistry and biology. The course focuses on the areas of biology most relevant to engineers: the structure and function of biologically important molecules, and concepts of biosystems (cell proliferation, immune and nervous systems and metabolism). A special topics thread has been included to weave current events into the course. During the most recent offering the focus was on various aspects of bird flu. This is a required course for Chemical, Civil and General Engineering students and is an elective taken by a large fraction of Mechanical Engineering students as part of the Multidisciplinary Engineering Foundation Spiral Curriculum. The course is typically taken during the second semester in place of a second general chemistry course. The course has been structured to provide the background needed for subsequent study of organic chemistry and physical chemistry. The introduction to concepts of biology is also structured to provide the necessary foundation for incorporation of biological applications in upper level engineering courses such as mass transfer. The course includes a laboratory component incorporating experiments from biology and environmental engineering concepts with classical general chemistry. Approximately one half of the experiments are common with a typical second semester general chemistry course. The remaining experiments include protein assay, enzyme kinetics, acid base behavior of amino acids and biochemical oxygen demand. The laboratory component also places a heavy emphasis on data analysis, uncertainty analysis and applications of statistics in experimentation. This paper will detail the development and delivery of Chemistry with Applications to Biosystems. Comparative data will be presented to illustrate the performance of students in subsequent course work, particularly organic chemistry.


© 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, Honolulu, Hawaii. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference.

Publisher Citation

Harding, W. D., & Schwartz, P., & Nocito-Gobel, J., & Koutsospyros, A. (2007, June), A Hybrid First Year Science Course For Engineering Students – Integrating Biology With Chemistry. Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.