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What does a Biochemical Engineer do?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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Biochemical engineering combines the disciplines of biological engineering and chemical engineering, and knowledge from both fields is desirable. The main feature of a biochemical engineer job is its ability to make products or processes from biological, living organisms. A typical biochemical engineer works in areas like safety control, product development, and energy creation.

The first aspect of biochemical engineering — also called biological engineering — utilizes principles in physics and mathematics to study and solve problems relating to living things. Biological engineers thus study individual biological components and use these conclusions to create new concepts and products. Applications can be found in a variety of areas, such as disease prevention. Chemical engineering, on the other hand, takes physics and math ideals and applies them to the conversion of raw materials and chemicals into a different form. For example, chemical engineering plays a large role in the creation and operation of fuel plants.

When one fuses biological engineering and chemical engineering, the aim is to create processes or machines that convert materials through the use of living organisms. A biochemical engineer is responsible for designing and creating such processes. A bioreactor serves as one such representative of a machine that may be design through biochemical engineering. This type of machine can use bacteria to chemically alter and treat sewage in a sewage plant. In addition to sanitation, a biochemical engineer may also work in areas such as pharmacology, processing foods, and creating products and guidelines for agricultural maintenance.

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A biochemical engineer usually works in tandem with a wide range of organizations. Manufacturing companies like paper, plastic, film, and paint producers often call upon the services of a biochemical engineer during some step of their manufacturing processes. Farmers may need a new type of fertilizer or an innovative way of growing their products. Pharmaceutical companies find a biochemical engineer’s expertise essential in processes like antibiotic development. Likewise, alternative fuel and even traditional fuel ventures find that biochemical processes are an effective source of energy generation.

Due to the complex and technical nature of the work, biochemical engineer responsibilities and skill sets are constantly evolving to meet the demands of an ever-changing world. A prospective employee must be equally at home in an office or a laboratory. An analytical and creative mindset is invaluable, as is a strong foundation in physics and mathematics. This foundation can be gained through a basic biochemical engineer education: an undergraduate degree in engineering and subsequent engineering certification. People skills are important as well, since the engineer will work with various scientific personnel as well as any individuals encountered in the chosen area of specialty.

In a sense, biochemical engineers are the ultimate appliers. They take raw, natural things and through innovation and technique transform these things into materials that are both useful and valuable. These employees serve as important proponents of safety and progress. A prospective biochemical engineer may wish to focus on the research aspect of his or her career, or may seek advancement into a supervisory position.

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