BCoE Announces Biosystems Engineering Name Change

May 4, 2023

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning recently approved the name change of Mississippi State University’s Biosystems Engineering, previously known as Biological Engineering.

The new Biosystems Engineering program, housed in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, is focused on science, calculus and physics-based problem-solving in biological systems associated with agricultural and natural resource applications. This program will help students prepare for future careers in related sectors, which are growing in importance along with trends like the growing world population and climate change.

Alex Thomasson, professor and department head of ABE, believes the name Biosystems Engineering better represents what the program is trying to accomplish.

“We're trying to rebrand the program in a way that differentiates it clearly from biomedical engineering (another degree program in ABE) and also aligns better with other programs around the country that are focused on agriculture and natural resources,” Thomasson said. “The new name should be easier for a person outside our program, prospective students for instance, to understand.”

Thomasson also spoke about his goal of growing the number of students in Biosystems Engineering. The program will include new courses and emphases (informal concentrations), which will be implemented following the name change.

“We’re going to have two, at least in the beginning, emphasis areas. The first will be called Natural Resources and Environment, and it will focus on these issues in a rural and agricultural context and will include water resources and bioenergy. The other emphasis, called Autonomous Agricultural Systems, will involve sensing, analytics and robotics in the context of agricultural production and phenomics research. It includes a good dose of electronics, mechanical systems and artificial intelligence related to solving agricultural problems,” Thomasson said. “Our faculty have also created two new courses dedicated to this program. One is on image analysis, and another is on spectroscopic sensing.”

Thomasson is dedicated to expanding the Biosystems Engineering program and giving students the opportunity to succeed professionally in emerging and exciting areas.

“Our goal is to take a program with roughly 20 biological engineering students, that was somewhat undefined in terms of those students’ job prospects, and transform it into an innovative program called Biosystems Engineering that has about 100 students three or four years down the road,” Thomasson said. “We want to bring those interested in agriculture and natural resources who have strong math and science interests into the Biosystems Engineering program.”

If interested in the Biosystems Engineering program at the bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D. level, please visit https://www.abe.msstate.edu/be for more information.

The Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering is online at www.abe.msstate.edu.

The Bagley College of Engineering is online at www.bagley.msstate.edu and can be found on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and YouTube at @msuengineering.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

By Emily Cambre