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Biological Sciences and Bio-Engineering? How It is? Placement ? By Amrita Singh & Prof. Nitin Gupta(BS-BE IITK)

Biological Sciences and Bio-Engineering? How It is? Placement ? By Amrita Singh (BS-BE IITK)
This is how most Indian (JEE) parents (and kids) tend to think:

I'm Amrita Singh, a third year undergraduate student in the department  of Biological Sciences and Bio-Engineering at IIT K, and let me  tell you, a doctor is NOT the only thing you can become after studying  Biology.
Our department is the newest at IIT K, and it is  growing fast. It encompasses two domains of biology - research and  engineering.

Biological research deals with the fascinating question of  what life is, and why living things behave the way they do. Biologists  ask how organisms develop from single cells, how our genes make us who  we are, how brains work, as well as what goes wrong in disease.  Bio-engineering is all about using our knowledge of living systems to  develop tools for medecine, agriculture, research and more. For example,  pharmaceutical companies engineer bacteria to efficiently produce insulin, a protein used to treat diabetes. Yes, that's right - we  tweak around with LIVING organisms the way automobile engineers tweak  parts of an engine, or computer engineers mess around with computers.

At  BSBE, we have professors who work in a diverse range of topics,  including cancer biology, biomaterials, neuroscience, structural  biology, developmental biology and more. They are eager to interact with  undergraduates. Our department building has a beautiful setup, with  research labs, undergraduate labs, a seminar hall and a lounge. BSBE  undergrads are involved in a very wide range of activities - sports,  cultural activities, sci-tech clubs etc. The BRAIN Hobby Group  (Biological Research and Innovation) was started by students of our department and  works on exciting projects. This year, a team of undergraduates from our  department is participating in BIOMOD, a biomolecular design  competition hosted by Harvard University.

So, what do we learn at  BSBE? Like all other departments, in your first year you will take  introductory courses in Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Computer  Science. From the second year onwards, you will start learning about  bio-engineering, anatomy and physiology, basic biochemistry, molecular  biology, cell biology, bio-informatics, structural biology, and  biomaterials. Most of these courses also have a laboratory component  where you get hands-on experience with bacteria, with drosophila  genetics, biochemical engineering, protein biology etc. You will also  have the opportunity to take departmental electives on topics like human  genetics, bio-instrumentation, neurobiology and more. Apart from this,  you can also take electives from other departments and shape your degree  according to what you are interested in.

Coming through JEE,  most of you will not have studied Biology after Class 10. This is NOT a  problem as the syllabus will start with the very basics. I must also  make it clear that the kind of biology that we study in school has  almost nothing to do with what is taught here. Many schools make  students mug up endless names of body parts, plants, molecules and what  not. College-level biology could not be more different. A good professor  will ask you WHY nature made DNA double-stranded but RNA  single-stranded, rather than asking you to remember their structures.  While some amount of "mugging" is required for some courses, I guarantee  that what you will learn here is nothing like what you learnt in  school. Many students, even from other departments, find themselves  getting interested in biology after joining IIT-K and getting a taste of  how wonderful it can be. I encourage you to keep an open mind about  what you like and dislike.

What do people do after graduating from BSBE? Some go into research - opportunities abound in India  as well as abroad; there has been a lot of funding for biological  research in recent years. Some take up jobs in pharmaceutical or  bio-instrumentation companies, though it's hard to land these jobs  directly after your bachelor degree, and it's wise to convert to a B.  Tech - M. Tech dual degree to get some specialisation. Yet others go  into very different fields like management, IT, finance etc. However, I  strongly recommend that you don't spend much time thinking about your  long term career right now, and instead focus on what you're going to  enjoy doing for the next four years. A career will sort itself out if  you are doing what you love.

For those of you who are confused,  and would like to try it out - you do have the option of changing your  branch later on, if you find that you don't like the department (or if  you are in another department and take an interest in biology).

I hope to see you at BSBE next semester! Good luck.

                                                              By Prof.

I came to biological sciences and bioengineering, or BSBE, at IIT Kanpur as a new faculty member just about two years ago. Here I am sharing my views about the department to help prospective students make an informed choice about whether to join BSBE.
What is biological sciences and bioengineering?
The department conducts teaching and research in many areas of modern biology, including genetics, structural biology, developmental biology, tissue engineering, neuroscience, and more. Some research projects focus on improving our understanding of how cells, organs, and organisms function, while other projects focus on engineering new materials or technologies for treating diseases. The modern biology is increasingly becoming sophisticated, making use of advanced technologies and engineering skills, and needs people who are equally good at biology and engineering. BSBE students take courses in biology as well as in mathematics, chemistry, physics, computing, general engineering, and humanities, just like students from other engineering departments.
Is it a good department to be in?
The first thing I noticed after I came here was an absence of hierarchy in the department. Faculty members are treated equally regardless of their age, and this culture naturally trickles down to students and staff: everyone gets their due respect. The department has its own building with spacious and well-furnished labs. My colleagues here are excellent researchers, with their contributions recognized by many awards and fellowships. We have a healthy mix of UG and PG students, boys and girls, students from north and south. There is a vibrant academic atmosphere with regularly occurring research seminars on a variety of topics. We also have fun events like the painting competition, or the annual BSBE sports day when students and faculty play cricket together.
What are the career options after a degree in BSBE?
Let’s be honest here: the large majority of IIT students take up careers that are unrelated to what they have studied in IIT, and this applies to all branches, including BSBE. So, if your goal is to take up a consulting or software job, or get an MBA, or appear for civil services examinations, then BSBE is as relevant, or irrelevant, as any other branch. But if you are among the few who want to continue in the technical field, there are opportunities. In the industry, there are some jobs (although not always as high-paying as software jobs) in the biotechnology sector, and these will continue to grow and become better-paying as the Indian biotech industry grows. In the academia, there are tons of opportunities for BSBE students. For obvious reasons, there is more research funding available for biology and healthcare-related research compared to other fields, both in India and outside India, and this translates into more research positions and fellowships for the students. Our B.Tech. students have received PhD offers from some of the best universities in the world, including Harvard and Princeton.
Should you join the department?
If you are most interested in a high-paying job in industry after getting your degree, then the answer is probably ‘no’, or more appropriately, ‘it does not matter much which department you join’. But if you have an interest in technology and research, and have a curiosity towards biological systems, BSBE can be a very good fit. I should add that having a track record in biology is not required, not even expected, for our incoming students. Many of our students, and even some faculty members including myself, did not have biology in 11th and 12th class, but we picked up the skills slowly while working in the field. The coursework for new B.Tech. students starts from a very basic level and gradually exposes them to different domains of biology and bioengineering. The only requisite is a willingness to learn about life.