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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) —Students at UL-Lafayette’s College of Engineering will now be able to concentrate on bioengineering, a first for Louisiana colleges and universities.

Officials with the university say the concentration is for chemical engineering majors who “envision careers in fields such as the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries, environmental remediation and renewable energy.” Registration for the concentration is now underway. The curriculum features a blend of courses and labs that focus on subjects such as biomaterials and biomedical engineering, biomechanics, biochemical engineering, biomass conversion, pharmaceutical operations, biochemistry, human anatomy and physiology.

“As with all of our engineering degree offerings and programs, the bioengineering concentration is in place to equip our students with knowledge and skills that will enable them to hit the ground running once they graduate,” said College of Engineering Dean Dr. Ahmed Khattab. “In this case, that sort of career-readiness is essential in a biotechnology marketplace that’s growing rapidly due to the emergence of newer technologies and an aging national population.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for bioengineers and biomedical engineers are projected to increase 5% through 2029.

Dr. Rafael Hernandez, head of the college’s Department of Chemical Engineering, said the bioengineering concentration is structured to provide students with expertise that will help them succeed in a range of jobs. Those jobs include creating medical, diagnostic and therapeutic devices, and developing pharmaceutical products, food supplements and preservatives. 

“A significant number of our recent graduates have entered the pharmaceutical industry – including some who are contributing to COVID-19 vaccine production. But bolstering employment opportunities in that area isn’t the only impetus for the bioengineering concentration,” Hernandez said. “It’s also tailored for students who plan to work in wastewater treatment, converting biomass to energy, fermentation operations and many other areas.”