Biological Engineering Student Handbook

Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources 
University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI

Updated 06/23/2020


Ryan Kurasaki,
Biological Engineering Faculty Advisor
Agriculture Engineering Institute, room 121
Phone: (808) 956-7259
Fax: (808) 956-3542


Welcome & The Undergraduate Program | Mission and Educational Objectives | Admission & Registration & New Students | Degree Requirements | Useful Websites | Student Academic Support Services | Meet the BE Faculty | BE Course Descriptions




Welcome - The Undergraduate Program

Welcome to the Biological Engineering Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, which is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.

Biological Engineering (BE) is a field of engineering in which the emphasis is on life and life-sustaining systems. Biological Engineers study the design, production, and operation of engineered systems in which living organisms (plants, animals, aquatic species, cells, etc.) are a major component. Biological Engineers deal with structures, machinery, energy, labor, land, water, wastes, and resource variables related to the efficient creation of products and processes to fill human needs. They approach problems in the context of the whole system to balance society's demand for products from biological resources (e.g., food, fiber, and higher-value products) with environmental integrity and economic success.

Completing a B.S. in Biological Engineering will prepare you for a variety of careers in traditional as well as emerging biotech fields. Graduates have accepted engineering positions such as designing process equipment and systems for biological production and treatment, or implementing site preparation for construction or bioremediation of environmental contamination. They are prepared to help engineer systems to develop renewable sources of energy, and to improve the value of natural products produced in Hawaiʻi for food and therapeutic applications. Increasing numbers of graduates from BE are meeting demands from growing biotech industries in Hawaiʻi, for example for the production of systems for culturing human tissues for medical replacement and for screening, extracting, and producing antibiotics and other pharmaceutical compounds from Hawaiʻi's unique natural biota. Many Bioengineers are employed with forward thinking institutions like NASA that are interested in engineering self-sustaining habitable environments in space as well as on Earth.

A degree in Biological Engineering prepares students for graduate school, not only in Biological Engineering but also in Medicine, Law, and Business which all value the versatility and analytical rigor of the field. Graduates also fill vital research and regulatory needs of state and federal governments to preserve and enhance the value of our natural resources.

The introductory part of the Biological Engineering curriculum is similar to other engineering fields, e.g., calculus, physics, chemistry, and computer programming. Students in Biological Engineering take additional courses in biological sciences such as biology, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. During the latter part of the program, students take basic engineering courses such as mechanics and thermodynamics as well as Biological Engineering courses with emphasis given to solving practical engineering problems involving biological systems.

The Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering is the only undergraduate degree offered by the program. Students benefit from small class size and one-on-one interactions with faculty.


Mission & Educational Objectives

The mission of the Biological Engineering Program is to provide students a unique opportunity to study the fundamentals of engineering and biology and the application of engineering to biological systems. To fulfill its mission, the Biological engineering program has two educational objectives which describe what graduates are expected to attain within a few years after graduation.

  1. Graduates will practice engineering in professional careers that serve the needs of society in fields such as biotechnology, environmental systems, energy, or agriculture.
  2. Graduates will contribute to their communities by continuing to engage in professional development, ethical decision making, and thoughtful discourse on contemporary issues.

Additionally, students are expected to demonstrate accomplishment of the following outcomes at the time of graduation:

  1. An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering.
  2. An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.
  3. An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.
  4. An ability to function on multidisciplinary teams.
  5. An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems.
  6. An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.
  7. An ability to communicate effectively.
  8. The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.
  9. A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning.
  10. A knowledge of contemporary issues.
  11. An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.



Admission & Registration – New Students


New students who apply to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) as first-year students or transfer students may apply directly to the program by specifying Biological Engineering (BE) as their major on their application form.

Students who have taken courses at another university or community college outside of the University of Hawaiʻi system must arrange to have their official transcripts sent to the UH-Mānoa Admissions Office for evaluation of transfer credits. Courses not meeting the university core requirements, but are acceptable academically, will be transferred and counted as elective credits.

Transfer students can check the “Transfer Credit Database” created by the UH Admissions Office to see how your courses transfer to UHM.

Upon entering the program, students will be required to meet with advisors to identify their career objective. Ryan Kurasaki is the main advising contact for all BE students. You may email him at to schedule an appointment. Additionally, CTAHR (College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources) academic advisors are also available for student support.

Students wishing to transfer from another UHM program must submit the CTAHR College and Curriculum Transfer Request form. The request form is available from advisors. Schedule an appointment with an advisor (Ryan Kurasaki or a CTAHR academic advisor) to discuss transfer into BE and have the paperwork processed. Status as a BE major is not official until all necessary paperwork has been completed and processed. Students are encouraged to apply to the program within the first month of any given semester to allow adequate time to process their transfers prior to registration for classes. 



Students register for courses online through STAR GPS Registration. STAR GPS Registration is an easy-to-navigate registration system that shows courses students need to graduate in a timely manner and allows students to personalize their academic plan to fit their unique college experience. STAR GPS Registration allows students to do the following:

  • Register for classes that count directly into their degree/credential so they don’t go off track 
  • A visual calendar of the classes students are choosing and how they fit together
  • Direct integration of students’ class schedule into their Google calendar
  • Easily switch classes using the add/drop options
  • Search for classes at any UH campus
  • View transcript

For help about STAR, students can meet with an academic advisor or visit the HELP website. Registration dates and times are published on the Registration Timetable.

Incoming freshmen students can also register for classes by signing up for a learning community. However, STAR GPS Registration is the best recommended option as there is no learning community specifically for Biological Engineering majors.


Degree Requirements

The Biological Engineering program sheet and four year plan can be found at the Bachelor Degree Program Sheets and Sample Four Year Academic Plans website. Please scroll down the page to the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

Accepted students who have set up their UH username and password may also find their requirements on their STAR GPS Registration page. Log onto your STAR Account by visiting the website.


Useful WEB Sites for Students Entering into the University of Hawai'i

All information for students covering how to apply, academic calendar, financial aid, catalog, transfer credit search, new database, on-campus activities, housing (dorms), parking, etc.

MyUH Services is a mobile-optimized, one stop shop for UH business tasks, forms, apps and more. It includes one-click access to services customized for students, faculty and staff across our 10-campus system.

STAR for students is the online degree tracking system for UH. You can view your degree requirements, register for classes, search for scholarships, and view your transcripts through STAR.

Browse this website to view all that CTAHR has to offer for Undergrad and Graduate Programs, financial aid/scholarship information, course requirements and information on who we are, Department, Faculty and Staff as well as publications and research projects.

Use this website to make an appointment with our academic advisors. Advisors can assist you with developing a degree plan and making sure you’re taking the appropriate classes for graduation. Meeting with an academic advisor is mandatory every semester.              

This web site provides information on the Biological Engineering program.

UH Core requirements and class listings.

This web site shows information on how your credits transfer into UH Mānoa. 


Student Academic Support Services

Access to student academic support services is important to ensure your success while a student at the University of Hawaiʻi. Below is a listing of some of these services that can also be found in the University of Hawaiʻi catalog.

  • Office of Civic and Community Engagement offers UH Manoa students and community agencies the opportunity to participate in a partnership of volunteer service.
  • First Year Programs ease the transition of new students into the academic and social communities at UH Manoa. First-Year Programs provide the opportunity to develop personal relationships with faculty and other students, enhance active involvement in the educational process, and build connections to UH Manoa.
  • International Student Services provides assistance to international students who come from more than countries to study at UH.  Students are advised and helped to adjust to the local and U.S. cultures.
  • Kokua Program (Disability Access Services) provides disability access services to students with documented physical and/or mental disabilities.  Services include alternative media production, counseling, early registration, note-taking, sign language interpreting, technology access, testing accommodations and campus transportation..
  • Learning Assistance Center provides tutoring, workshops, Supplemental Instruction (SI), and one-on-one appointments in which students learn appropriate study strategies and problem solving skills to achieve their academic goals.
  • Mānoa Advising Center serves as an advising office for exploratory students who have not yet declared a major.
  • Student Success Center in Sinclair Library offers students a welcoming and convivial place to study and to learn, and provides them the information and skills they need to be successful in their academic career and beyond. The center provides seating that facilitates collaborative learning, is open long hours, and permits students to bring their own snacks, all in a space that has natural light and air.
  • Student Support Services is a federally funded program that provides academic advising and planning, special courses, financial aid advice, graduate and professional school advising, tutoring, mentoring, and academic enrichment activities to program students enrolled at UH Mānoa.
  • Mānoa Writing Center provides free services to equip students with appropriate writing skills so they can become better and more confident writers.

Do not hesitate to discuss your needs with your academic degree advisor who can help refer you to the appropriate resource. 


Meet the BE Faculty

Loren Gautz, PhD, Associate Professor
Agricultural Engineering Institute
3131 Maile Way Room 119
Phone: (808) 956-6876
Fax : (808) 956-9269
Research Interest: Bioproduction Control, Bioproduction System Engineering


Daniel Jenkins, PhD, PE, Associate Professor
Agricultural Science Building
1955 East-West Road Room 415L
Phone: (808) 956-6069
Fax: (808) 956-3542
Research Interest: Biosensors and Instrumentation


Terrence Kai, Welder
Agricultural Engineering Institute
3131 Maile Way Room 122
Phone: (808) 956-3536
Fax: (808) 956-9269


Samir Khanal, PhD, PE, Assistant Professor
Agricultural Science Building
1955 East-West Road Room 415K
Phone: (808) 956-3812
Fax: (808) 956-3542
Research Interest: Bioenergy and Biobased
Products; Waste-to-Energy


Charles Kinoshita, PhD, PE
Agricultural Science Building
1955 East-West Road Room 205
Phone: (808) 956-5269
Fax: (808) 956-3542
Research Interest: Biosystems Engineering, Phytoremediation


Ryan Kurasaki, PE, Facilities Planning & Design
Agricultural Engineering Institute
3131 Maile Way Room 121
Phone: (808) 956-7259
Fax: (808) 956-9269
Research Interest: Systems Engineering; Machine Design; Renewable Energy


Wei-Wen Winston Su, PhD, Professor
Agricultural Science Building
1955 East-West Road Room 415N
Phone: (808) 956-3531
Fax: (808) 956-3542
Research Interest: Biochemical Engineering, Plant Cell Culture, Molecular Biotechnology


Jaw-Kai Wang, PhD, Professor Emeritus
Gilmore Hall
3050 Maile Way Room 110
Phone: (808) 956-8145
Fax: (808) 956-9269
Research Interest: Bioproduction System Engineering, Aquacultural Engineering


I Pai Wu, PhD, Professor Emeritus
Gilmore Hall
3050 Maile Way
Fax: (808) 956-9269
Research Interest: Biosystems Engineering, Irradiation Technology


Ping-Yi Yang, PhD, Professor Emeritus
Gilmore Hall
3050 Maile Way Room 105
Phone: (808) 956-8459
Fax: (808) 956-9269
Research Interest: Bioprocess Technology, Waste Water Engineering


Affiliate Faculty

Soojin Jun, PhD, Assistant Professor
Agricultural Science
1955 East-West Road
Room 302F
Phone: (808) 956-8283
Fax: (808) 956-4024


Ping Sun Leung, PhD, Professor
Gilmore Hall
3050 Maile Way Room 123
Phone: (808) 956-8562
Fax: (808) 956-9269
Research Interest: Bioproduction Economics, Biotechnology Business
Research Interest: Food Engineering, Biosensors


Scott Turn, PhD, Associate Researcher
Pacific Ocean Science & Technology
1680 East-West Road Room 111A
Phone: (808) 956-2346
Fax: (808) 956-2336
Research Interest: Biomass to Bioenergy, Thermochemical Conversion


Jian Yu, PhD, Associate Researcher
Pacific Ocean Science & Technology
1680 East-West Road Room 109
Phone: (808) 956-5873
Fax: (808) 956-2336
Research Interest: Biopolymers, Biofuels, Enzyme Catalysis, Bioprocessing


Biological Engineering (BE) Course Descriptions

Viewable online at the UH Manoa Catalog.