Engineering and Biology

In the techno bulged world Industry wants real world engineers equipped for the complex interactions, across many disciplines. In this emerging scenario biologists need engineers and at the same time more and more engineers are responding to the revolutions made in the field of biology. Both engineers and biologists have begun to understand that potential is one thing and to achieve the potential that exists is another. It is where the challenges lie for both engineers and biologists.

In this century biology has become so important that it can’t be left only to the biologists. In the emerging scenario engineers are expected to use advanced engineering tools and methods and at the same time get familiar with the tools of modern biology. As a first step, it is important to introduce biology in the engineering curriculum. Quantitative and computational approaches are becoming vitally important in modern biology. Both systems and synthesis are forming the core of engineering.

We are witnessing the emergence of biology-based-engineering as well as engineering- based biology education. Now engineering schools are joining hands with medical schools to develop different kinds of inter-disciplinary programmes. We are combining the capabilities of engineering and biology to solve molecular and cellular level problems. The fascinating self-assembling, self-repairing and self-replicating nanomachines are getting greater attention of engineers.

How best can we address the problems of biology to engineering students? How much biology is enough for engineering students? How do we simplify biology for engineers? These are the questions that are being debated in the academic circles. An engineer’s approach to understand complex biological systems is different. One view is that ‘nature as the designer,’ and ‘evolution as a design tool’ should be taught to engineers.

A bioengineer, like any other engineer, uses nuts and bolts to assemble a contraption. The ‘biological nuts and bolts’ and ‘cut and paste technology’ need better standardization as this will help achieve combination and assembly of ‘spare parts’ made by different manufacturers easier. A bioengineer designs living devices, components and systems. Like any other engineer, a bioengineer is expected to work within the constraints provided by technical, economic, business, political, social, and ethical issues. The developments in this area, however, are quite bothersome to a section of society. Society wants proper debate concerning the socio-economic, security, health, environmental and human rights implications, and ethical concerns.