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Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Degree: BS

Campus: Columbus

College: Engineering

To be considered for this major, freshmen applying to the Columbus campus are strongly encouraged to submit their complete admission application by November 1.

Food, agricultural and biological engineers strive to serve society and to improve our environment. They identify and solve engineering problems related to renewable energy; environmental issues; producing safe, healthy, nutritional-value-added food products; and other areas where natural earth systems can be engineered to be more productive for humanity, yet protected for a sustained and secure future. 


Food engineering involves the production, processing, packaging, safety and/or transportation of the world’s food supply. With over 15,000 registered food processing and equipment companies in the United States, the food industry is one of the largest industries in the world. Food engineers design sustainable and environmentally responsible food processes for manufacturing safe, tasty, healthy, convenient food products. 

Students in the agricultural engineering program allow students to focus on soil and water, structures and facilities, or machinery systems. The program prepares students for careers in industries and agencies providing engineering inputs and services to agricultural production. Though the curriculum focuses on agriculture-related themes, agricultural engineering graduates are prepared for and often pursue careers in electrical, mechanical and civil engineering.

Biological engineering involves the engineering of living systems and the application of engineering principles to real world problems. Ohio State’s biological engineering program combines the knowledge of biology, microbiology, molecular genetics and biochemistry with hands-on work with plants, animals, humans, cells in tissue culture and microorganisms. Graduates of this program have pursued graduate and professional degrees in a multitude of areas, including biomedical engineering, veterinary medicine, human medicine, dentistry and optometry.

Ecological engineering focuses on the design and restoration of natural ecosystems for societal and environmental benefits. Students who study ecological engineering may choose to focus on the design and restoration of natural ecosystems including streams, wetlands and coastal systems. Others will focus their studies on water quality and environmental contamination issues through the design, development and management of ecosystems.

Upon admission to the university, students may directly enroll as pre-engineering students; however, direct enrollment is selective. Factors used to determine eligibility to directly enroll include ACT/SAT scores (emphasis on math), strong college prep curriculum (emphasis on math, science and rigorous courses), and class rank or GPA. The middle 50 percent of directly enrolled pre-majors (autumn 2016) had ACT score ranges of 29–33 and 98 percent were in the top 25 percent of their high school classes.

Students not eligible to directly enroll in engineering may enroll in Science, Technology and Environment Exploration (see

All engineering students have a similar first-year plan of study, the college core, that provides fundamental courses in math, science and engineering. View a sample first-year plan of study.

In addition to the college core, engineering students also take select core courses, major courses and general education courses.

Engineering students have several opportunities for global education, including service learningsemester abroad, international internships, engineering-specific study abroad programs or the Global Option in Engineering program

Whether it be installing solar panels on Haitian schools, researching biomedical optics in China, devising solutions for sustainable food production in Honduras, or setting speed records on the Isle of Man, Ohio State engineering students venture beyond classrooms and labs to find success in every corner of the globe. 

Students work with Engineering Career Services (ECS) to find both paid internships and co-op jobs across the United States and around the world. Nearly 90 percent of career-employed graduates complete at least one semester of engineering-related experience before they graduate. 

Honors and scholars offer students an opportunity to pursue academic rigor (Honors) or foster passion through community (scholars). Engineering students can enhance their experience by getting involved with one of the following engineering-based programs.

Engineering Honors

The Fundamentals of Engineering for Honors (FEH) Program is an optional course sequence that is offered to University Honors-designated engineering students. This accelerated program is designed to challenge students and provide them with a foundation in engineering principles that are necessary for success throughout their academic careers.

Engineering Scholars

Engineering Scholars contemplate the adoption of socially responsible practices within engineering as a means to minimize health risks and environmental impact and maximize efficiency, feasibility and sustainability.

Humanitarian Engineering Scholars learn about and engage in engineering activities that impact underserved areas by addressing pressing problems. 

At Ohio State, engineering students conduct research alongside top faculty from across the university—doctors, physicists, designers, artists and experts in many other fields—to advance our knowledge and improve the world around us. Students enjoy multiple outlets to share their work, including Ohio State's annual Denman Undergraduate Research Forum each spring. Learn more about engineering research.

Food, agricultural and biological engineering research topics:

  • alternative natural and synthetic rubber
  • biodigesters for waste treatment
  • energy efficiency measures for buildings
  • food processing wastewater treatment
  • rain garden networks

Students in food, agricultural and biological engineering choose from more than 50 engineering student organizations, including Alpha Epsilon, American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, Quarter Scale Tractor Design Team, South African Water Reuse Initiative, Bio-Environmental Design Team, Institute of Biological Engineers, and Ecological Engineering Society.

Graduates with an interest in the mechanical aspects of agricultural engineering may find careers manufacturing equipment for farming, forestry, construction, transportation, global positioning, homeland security, and lawn, garden and recreational markets. Graduates interested in engineering solutions for environmental issues in agriculture may find careers at environmental agencies, consulting firms, and manufacturers and suppliers of drainage and irrigation equipment. Graduates of the food engineering specialization use their skills to design sustainable and environmentally responsible food processes for manufacturing safe, tasty, healthy, convenient food products. 

Graduates of the biological engineering specialization have opportunities for careers in biotechnology, bio-energy, bio-products, biomedical applications, biochemical processing, pharmaceuticals and bio-instrumentation. These students may also choose to prepare themselves for admission to either veterinary or medical school. The department has a strong positive record of admissions to such professional schools.

Graduates of the ecological engineering specialization will have career opportunities designing and restoring natural ecosystems like streams, wetlands and coastal systems. Graduates may work for the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Army Corps of Engineers and environmental consulting firms.

Some employers of food, agricultural and biological engineering graduates include Air Force Research Lab, Caterpillar Inc., Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Cummins Inc., John Dreere, Kroger, Marathon Petroleum Corp., Nestle, and Tetra Tech.