What Does A Biochemical Engineer Do? (Skills And Duties)
Updated 16 March 2023
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Biochemical engineers research and develop processes to use microbial organisms and enzyme systems for manufacturing chemical products. It is necessary to have advanced knowledge of biochemistry, microbiology, and chemical engineering to work in this field. By understanding the exact duties of biochemical engineers, you can decide if it is a profession you would like to pursue. In this article, we discover the answer to the question, "What does a biochemical engineer do?" and learn about the job responsibilities, work environment, and getting started in this career.
What Does A Biochemical Engineer Do?
Using advanced technologies, biochemical engineers apply their engineering, biology, and chemistry expertise to create new products and manufacturing processes from living organisms and biological materials. They collaborate with other engineers, scientists, and manufacturers to develop and refine production processes. The products they create include:
personal care products
What Are The Work Responsibilities Of Biochemical Engineers?
The work responsibilities of biochemical engineers can vary by the industry they work in and their experience level and skills. Some of the typical duties include the following:
researching interactions of biological materials in different environments and ways to inhibit or promote their growth
predicting material interaction results by using computer simulation and statistical models and replicating the results in the laboratory
studying cells, proteins, enzymes, and other biological materials and using them to build compounds for public consumption
preparing, overseeing, directing, and recording laboratory experiments and writing technical reports on research findings
training staff and providing technical support in the use of biomedical equipment and evaluating its safety and effectiveness
working in collaboration with biologists, chemists, research staff, and manufacturing personnel to develop new products and technologies
designing equipment with computer-aided design (CAD) software, developing production processes, and preparing budgets
checking the accuracy of information about products and product development processes and preparing operating manuals for mass production
publishing research papers, applying for patents, making research recommendations, and presenting research findings
maintaining a research database and staying updated on the latest industry research and scientific and technological developments
Related: What Is Biotechnology Engineering? (With Course Details)
What Are The Skills That Biochemical Engineers Need?
Biochemical engineers need the following skills to do well in their profession:
Communication skills: Effective verbal, listening and written communication skills can help biochemical engineers to convey their ideas accurately, get the information they want from collaborators, and write proper documentation for research procedures.
Attention to detail: It is necessary for biochemical engineers to monitor research procedures and pay attention to their details to get accurate results.
Problem-solving skills: Biochemical engineers use problem-solving skills to find the right solutions for issues arising from the interactions of biological materials and chemical processes.
Organizing skills: Strong organizational skills can enable biochemical engineers to track research data, record procedures, and maintain an accurate and up-to-date database of the results.
Time management: A biochemical engineer may often manage multiple projects and can benefit from time management skills to complete these before their deadlines.
What Is The Work Environment For Biochemical Engineers?
Biochemical engineers generally work full-time in an office, research laboratory, or manufacturing plant and maintain regular office hours of eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. They may sometimes work overtime to meet project deadlines. Depending on the work, they may travel to do field research or attend meetings. Their work may require them to supervise research teams and collaborate with other engineers, scientists, chemists, manufacturing personnel, quality assurance staff, and regulatory authorities.
Biochemical engineers follow strict safety protocols since they work with potentially dangerous chemicals, materials, and equipment. They may assist with creating safety regulations to ensure product manufacturing safety. Some of the places that employ biochemical engineers are:
petrochemical engineering companies
medical instrumentation companies
oil and natural gas companies
Related: What Is a Chemist? (Definition, Qualifications and Salary)
What Are Some Job Specializations For Biochemical Engineers?
As a qualified biochemical engineer, you may be able to do these specialized jobs:
Enzyme engineers: They develop enzyme engineering tools, quality control processes, and building protocols for automation. Enzyme engineers use various techniques to construct mutagenesis libraries, do biochemical assaying and enzyme screening and develop enzyme expression and downstream processing.
Metabolic engineer: A metabolic engineer undertakes the genetic engineering of bacteria, yeast, and other microbial organisms to modify and improve their metabolic activity. They design, implement, manage and optimize experiments and workflows, troubleshoot technical problems, and generate high-quality data.
Tissue engineer: Tissue engineers improve, restore, repair or replace damaged biological tissues by engineering new, functional tissue with the help of extra-cellular matrix or tissue scaffolding. Tissue engineering is a part of the regenerative medicine field. Two examples include artificial cartilage and skin.
How To Become A Biochemical Engineer?
You can become a biochemical engineer by following these steps:
1. Pass 10+2
To get started in a biochemical engineering career, you need to pass the 10+2 Higher Secondary Certification (HSC) exam in the science stream from a recognized board. It is advisable to select physics, chemistry, and mathematics or physics, chemistry, mathematics, and biology as the compulsory subjects. You can also benefit from studying computer science and English. Admissions to engineering colleges can be very competitive, so make it a top priority to get a high score.
Related: Career Options After 10th (With Types Of Jobs And Courses)
2. Clear college entrance exams
While some colleges allow merit-based admissions, many base their selections on the scores in relevant competitive college entrance exams such as the following:
Joint Entrance Examination - Main (JEE - Main)
Joint Entrance Examination - Advanced (JEE - Advanced)
All India Engineering Entrance Exams (AIEEE)
Engineering, Agriculture, and Medical Common Entrance Test (EAMCET)
Biotech Consortium India Limited (BCIL) Common Entrance Test
Vellore Institute of Technology and Engineering Entrance Examination (VITEEE)
Bharath University Engineering Entrance Exam
Sant Langowal Institute of Engineering and Technology Entrance Test (SLIET)
Jadavpur University Biomedical Engineering Entrance Examination
3. Pursue a bachelor's degree
You can pursue a four-year bachelor of technology (B.Tech.) course in biochemical engineering. The syllabus includes the following subjects:
Biochemistry and biophysics
Bio Transducers and electrodes
Artificial neural networks
Anatomy and physiology
Biomaterials and components
Control systems in medicine
Digital signal processing
Health technology management
Enzyme engineering and technology
Metabolic regulation and engineering
Molecular biology and genetics
Chemical engineering thermodynamics
Other popular bachelor's degree programs for the biochemical engineering field are chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, biotechnology, pharmacy, and chemical engineering.
4. Obtain a master's degree
After getting a relevant bachelor's degree, you are eligible to pursue a two-year master of technology (M.Tech.) in biochemical engineering. For admission to the course, it is necessary to pass entrance exams like:
Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)
West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination (WBJEE)
Andhra Pradesh Post Graduate Engineering Common Entrance Test (AP PGECET)
Birla Institute of Technology and Science Admission Test (BITSAT)
You can either enrol directly in the program or get one or two years of work experience in the industry first. The program syllabus includes the following topics:
Bioprocess plant design
You can also work in biochemical engineering with a two-year master of science (M.Sc.) in chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, biotechnology, or pharmacy. Other popular courses are master of technology (M.Tech.) or master of engineering (M.E.) in biotechnology or chemical engineering.
Related: What Is Bioprocess Engineering? (Plus Applications)
5. Earn a doctorate
A doctorate in biochemical engineering can enable you to hold senior roles that involve overseeing research teams or teaching in colleges and universities. To enroll in the doctorate program, you need an M.Sc., M.Tech., MBA, MBBS, or equivalent degree or B.Tech. It is necessary to have valid scores in entrance exams like:
Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research National Eligibility Test (CSIR NET)
Indian Council of Agricultural Research All India Entrance Examination for (a) admission (ICAR AIEEA) (PG)
Indian Council of Medical Research Junior Research Fellowship (ICMR JRF)
The admission process may also involve written tests and multiple interview rounds. The program duration is two years for master's degree holders and three years for those with a bachelor's degree.
6. Complete an internship
Doing an internship while completing your bachelor's degree, master's degree or doctorate program can give you valuable work experience in the biochemical engineering field. Your college may inform you of internship opportunities or you can find them on job sites like Indeed. You can also contact the companies you want to work with and express your interest in interning with them.
Related: What Are Internships and How Do You Find One?
7. Find a job
Qualified biochemical engineers can find work in a wide range of industries. It is a good idea to explore different fields and shortlist the ones that interest you the most. You can then research the top companies in those fields and find out about their employment requirements and available positions. You can customize your resume and cover letter for each job application and improve your chances of receiving an interview call.
Related: How to Find Your Desired Career Path
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