Starting in 2017–18, the bioengineering major has three concentrations (for the earlier curricula see Old Concentrations and Electives).  For detailed curricular requirements for each concentration, see the curriculum charts.

Biomolecular Engineering

The biomolecular engineering concentration is designed for students interested in protein engineering, stem cell engineering, and synthetic biology. The emphasis is on engineering of or with biomolecules (mainly DNA, RNA, and proteins) and cellular engineering, including stem cell engineering. Students need a thorough background in biochemistry, cell biology, and molecular biology, as well as enough bioinformatics to use DNA and protein databases effectively. Other subjects are touched on lightly, mainly to provide breadth. Students completing the biomolecular concentration also complete a bioinformatics minor.

Although the lower-level Physics 6 series is currently acceptable for this concentration, we will continue advising that students take the Physics 5 series.  Physics 6 is permitted primarily to allow easier transfer from the MCD Biology major, where students are not expected to take Physics 5.

Students choosing this concentration should start with chemistry courses, as the biochemistry course is prerequisite to many upper-division courses and has a long pre-requisite chain.


The bioelectronics concentration is designed for students interested in the interface between organisms and electronic instrumentation or implants. The emphasis is on converting biological information into electronic signals, interfacing those signals to computer systems, and then processing and analyzing those signals. To a lesser extent, it also involves converting electronic signals into biological ones. Because many biological sensors result in color change or other optical signals, optoelectronics may also be important. Students needs a broad background in classical physics and electronics, with some chemistry.

The Physics 5 series is required for the bioelectronics concentration.

Students choosing this elective should start with physics and calculus, as both are prerequisite to electronics circuits classes, which are prerequisite to many of the upper-division courses.  It is a good idea to take BME 51 (Applied Electronics) before taking EE 101 (Circuits).

Assistive Technology: Motor

The assistive technology: motor concentration is designed for students interested in helping people with movement disabilities. The emphasis is on designing exoskeletons, robots, and mechanical devices to aid disabled people and enhance capabilities of non-disabled people. The underlying sciences are physics and anatomy.

Physics 5A and 5C are required for the bioelectronics concentration, as is CMPE 9 (Statics).

Scheduling for the motor concentration should begin with CMP 118 (Mechatronics) placed in the fall of the junior year.  All its prerequisites should be scheduled before the course.  Although none of the prerequisite chains is very long, there are a lot of dependencies.