BioRenewable Systems, B.S.

Program Code: BRS_BS

Program Description

The BioRenewable Systems Major is an applied major that intertwines the study of engineering technology, natural resources, and agriculture with fundamentals of business, entrepreneurship, and management. Administered through the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, the BioRenewable Systems (BRS) program uniquely prepares students to solve 21st century problems and attain careers in both traditional sectors and those relating to the emerging bioeconomy. Students in this program will secure: (1) knowledge of fundamental sciences related to resources, processes, and products in biorenewable systems; (2) communication and managerial skills relevant to careers in product development, technology, sales, marketing and management; and (3) the ability to apply systems analysis skills, positioning them for effective problem solving and leadership in the agricultural and bioproducts industries.

Graduates are typically employed as sales and field representatives, financial and technical consultants, and technical service or quality assurance personnel in renewable bioproducts or related agricultural sectors such as: power and machinery systems, forest products, food production, bioprocessing, environmental systems, wood structures, bioenergy, co-product development, and agrochemicals. Graduates may continue their education in a graduate program with a science, engineering, or business orientation.

The BRS major has two options: Agricultural Systems Management (ASM) and BioProducts (BP).

Agricultural Systems Management Option

This option applies a technological approach to understanding and managing agricultural production systems to meet economical and sustainable needs. Basic study is emphasized in the application of the technical results of engineering research, design, and manufacturing along with the agricultural and business management sciences. Graduates of this option apply their technology and management training to the diverse areas of food and fiber production; bioprocessing; and land, water, and air resources.

BioProducts Option

The scientific nature of biobased resources—their unique design, sustainability, and renewability. Building upon that foundation, students will learn techniques for converting and efficiently utilizing these materials to maximize product life cycles, while simultaneously exploring relevant marketing and management strategies. Technical electives for this option emphasize material sciences, engineering, and/or business. Career tracks are broad, ranging from traditional forest products companies to emerging sectors, including bioenergy co-products.

You Might Like this Program If...

  • You want to make a difference in the world by developing more efficient and sustainable technologies and systems
  • You want to work with engineers in the testing, development, and improvement of equipment, processes, or products
  • You enjoy supervising and interacting with other professionals, employees, suppliers, and customers
  • You want to demonstrate features, advantages, and benefits of new technologies or products and train service personnel
  • You are interested in business, marketing and sales, with a focus on biorenewable and agricultural industries.

Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, a student must:

  1. attain at least a C (2.00) cumulative grade-point average for all courses taken at the University; and
  2. have third-semester classification.

READ SENATE POLICY 37-30: ENTRANCE TO AND CHANGES IN MAJOR PROGRAMS OF STUDY

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Science degree in BioRenewable Systems, a minimum of 121 credits is required for the BioProducts Option and the Agricultural Systems Management Option:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Requirements for the Major 106-109

30 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 9 credits of GN courses; 6 credits of GQ courses; 6 credits of GS courses; 9 credits of GWS courses.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits

Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)

  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement    

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Requirements for the Major

To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn a grade of C or better in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Common Requirements for the Major (All Options)

Prescribed Courses
ACCTG 211Financial and Managerial Accounting for Decision Making4
BRS 350Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment3
BRS 422Energy Analysis in Biorenewable Systems3
BRS 426Safety and Health in Agriculture and Biorenewable Industries3
BRS 428Electric Power and Instrumentation3
BRS 429WBiorenewable Systems Analysis and Management3
BRS 430WBiorenewable Systems Capstone 11
BRS 431WBioRenewable Sys Capstone 22
BRS 490BioRenewable Systems Colloquium1
CHEM 110Chemical Principles I Keystone/General Education Course3
CHEM 111Experimental Chemistry I Keystone/General Education Course1
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
AGBM 106Agribusiness Problem Solving Keystone/General Education Course3
BRS 221Engineering Principles of Biorenewable Systems3
BRS 391Communication Skills for BE and BRS Students Keystone/General Education Course2
BRS 392Leadership Skills for BE and BRS Students Keystone/General Education Course2
EDSGN 100Cornerstone Engineering Design3
ENGL 15Rhetoric and Composition Keystone/General Education Course3
Additional Courses
AGBM 101Economic Principles of Agribusiness Decision Making Keystone/General Education Course3
or ECON 102 Introductory Microeconomic Analysis and Policy Keystone/General Education Course
BA 303Marketing3
or AGBM 302 Food Product Marketing
BIOL 11
BIOL 12
Introductory Biology I Keystone/General Education Course
and Introductory Biology II Keystone/General Education Course
4
or BIOL 110 Biology: Basic Concepts and Biodiversity Keystone/General Education Course
EBF 200Introduction to Energy and Earth Sciences Economics Keystone/General Education Course3
or ECON 104 Introductory Macroeconomic Analysis and Policy Keystone/General Education Course
PHYS 211General Physics: Mechanics Keystone/General Education Course4
or PHYS 250 Introductory Physics I Keystone/General Education Course
Select one of the following:3-4
Legal Environment of Business
and Social and Ethical Environment of Business
Social, Legal, and Ethical Environment of Business
Legal Environment of Business
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
CAS 100AEffective Speech Keystone/General Education Course3
or CAS 100B Effective Speech Keystone/General Education Course
MATH 110Techniques of Calculus I Keystone/General Education Course4
or MATH 140 Calculus With Analytic Geometry I Keystone/General Education Course
STAT 200Elementary Statistics Keystone/General Education Course3-4
or STAT 240 Introduction to Biometry Keystone/General Education Course
or STAT 250 Introduction to Biostatistics Keystone/General Education Course
Requirements for the Option
Select an option33-34

Requirements for the Options

Agricultural Systems Management Option (33-34 credits)
Prescribed Courses
SOILS 101Introductory Soil Science Keystone/General Education Course3
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
ASM 310Power Transmission in Agriculture3
ASM 327Soil and Water Resource Management3
Additional Courses
AGRO 28Principles of Crop Management3
or HORT 101 Horticultural Science Keystone/General Education Course
Select 3-4 credits of the following:3-4
Introduction to Animal Industries Keystone/General Education Course
Animal Science
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Select 18 credits of specialization courses in consultation with an adviser. At least 12 credits must be at 200-400 level.18
Bioproducts Option (32 credits)
Prescribed Courses
BRS 300Introduction to Biorenewable Products3
BRS 411Bioproducts Science and Technology3
BRS 417Processing and Manufacturing Systems for Bioproducts3
BRS 423Deterioration and Protection of Bioproducts3
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
BRS 402Foundations of Sustainable Business3
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Select 3 credits in leadership/entrepreneurship3
Select 15 credits of specialization courses in consultation with an adviser. At least 9 credits must be at 200-400 level.15

Program Learning Objectives

  • Graduates will demonstrate knowledge of engineering technologies, materials sciences, and safety as they pertain to biorenewable systems.
  • Graduates will demonstrate knowledge of sales, marketing, management, and/or entrepreneurship principles relating to biorenewable systems and industries.
  • Graduates will be able to analyze and interpret data using relevant software, and demonstrate an ability to draw sound conclusions from data.
  • Graduates will be able to communicate, both orally and in writing, business and technical concepts within the context of biorenewable industries.
  • Graduates will be able to identify solutions to problems relevant to biorenewable systems.
  • Graduates will be able to apply systems analysis skills for effective decision-making in the operations and management of biorenewable resource industries.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.

READ SENATE POLICY 32-00: ADVISING POLICY

University Park

Siobhan Fathel, Ph.D.
Assistant Teaching Professor
201 Agricultural Engineering Building
University Park, PA 16802
814-863-8124
suf474@psu.edu

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2021-22 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contain suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Agricultural Systems Management Option: BioRenewable Systems, B.S. at University Park Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BE 11CHEM 1111
CHEM 1103ACCTG 2114
EDSGN 100*3ENGL 15, 30H, or ESL 15‡†3
MATH 110 or 140‡†4PHYS 250 or 2114
General Education Course (GHW)1.5General Education Course3
ECON 104 or EBF 2003General Education Course (GHW)1.5
 15.5 16.5
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
AGBM 101 or ECON 1023BLAW 243, BA 243, or BA 241 and BA 2423-4
BIOL 110 or 11 and 124SOILS 1013
CAS 100A or 100B‡†3AGRO 28 or HORT 1013
STAT 200, 240, or 250‡†3-4General Education Course3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
 16-17 15-16
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
AGBM 106*3BRS 392‡†2
BRS 221*3BA 303 or AGBM 3023
BRS 3503ANSC 201 or 1003-4
ASM 310*3BRS 4901
ASM 327*3Selection3
BRS 391‡†2Selection 3
 17 15-16
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BRS 4283BRS 4263
BRS 430W (capstone)1BRS 431W (capstone)2
BRS 4223Selection3
BRS 429W3Selection3
Selection3Selection3
 13 14
Total Credits 122-125

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and replace both ENGL 30H and CAS 100. Each course is 3 credits.

Advising Note:

A list of ‘selection’ courses can be found in the BRS Advising Manual: abe.psu.edu/documents/brs-advising-manual.pdf.  Students should consult with an academic adviser to discuss appropriate course selection.

BioProducts Option: BioRenewable Systems, B.S. at University Park Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BE 11CHEM 1111
CHEM 1103ACCTG 2114
EDSGN 100*3ENGL 15, 30H, or ESL 15‡†3
MATH 110 or 140‡†4PHYS 250 or 2114
General Education Course (GHW)1.5General Education Course3
ECON 104 or EBF 2003General Education Course (GHW)1.5
 15.5 16.5
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
AGBM 101 or ECON 1023BLAW 243, BA 243, or BA 241 and BA 2423-4
BIOL 110 or 11 and 124Selection3
CAS 100A or 100B‡†3Selection3
STAT 200 or 240‡†3-4General Education Course3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
 16-17 15-16
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
AGBM 106*3BRS 392‡†2
BRS 221*3BA 303 or AGBM 3023
BRS 300*3BRS 411 (even years)10-3
Selection - BRS Leadership/Entrepreneurship (ENGR 310, AEE 360, MGMT 215, or SUST 200)3BRS 417 (odd years)10-3
BRS 3503BRS 423 (even years)10-3
BRS 391‡†2BRS 4901
 Selection3
 Selection (odd years)10-3
 17 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BRS 402*3BRS 4263
BRS 4283BRS 431W (capstone)2
BRS 430W (capstone)1BRS 411 (even years)10-3
BRS 4223BRS 417 (odd years)10-3
BRS 429W3BRS 423 (even years)10-3
 Selection3
 Selection (odd years)10-3
 13 14
Total Credits 122-124

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and replace both ENGL 30H and CAS 100. Each course is 3 credits.

Advising Note:

A list of ‘selection’ courses can be found in the BRS Advising Manual: abe.psu.edu/documents/brs-advising-manual.pdf.  Students should consult with an academic adviser to discuss appropriate course selection.

Agricultural Systems Management Option: BioRenewable Systems, B.S. at Commonwealth Campuses

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
First Year Seminar1-3CHEM 1111
CHEM 1103ACCTG 2114
EDSGN 100*3ENGL 15, 30H, or ESL 15‡†3
MATH 110 or 140‡†4PHYS 250 or 2114
General Education Course (GHW)1.5General Education Course3
ECON 104 or EBF 2003General Education Course (GHW)1.5
 15.5-17.5 16.5
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
AGBM 101 or ECON 1023BLAW 243, BA 243, or BA 241 and BA 2423-4
BIOL 110 or 11 and 124SOILS 1013
CAS 100A or 100B‡†3AGRO 28 or HORT 1013
STAT 200 or 240‡†3-4General Education Course3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
 16-17 15-16
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
AGBM 106*3BRS 392‡†2
BRS 221*3BA 303 or AGBM 3023
BRS 3503ANSC 201 or 1003-4
ASM 310*3BRS 4901
ASM 327*3Selection3
BRS 391‡†2Selection 3
 17 15-16
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BRS 4283BRS 4263
BRS 430W (capstone)1BRS 431W (capstone)2
BRS 4223Selection3
BRS 429W3Selection3
Selection3Selection3
 13 14
Total Credits 122-127

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

Advising Note:

A list of ‘selection’ courses can be found in the BRS Advising Manual: abe.psu.edu/documents/brs-advising-manual.pdf.  Students should consult with an academic adviser to discuss appropriate course selection.

BioProducts Option: BioRenewable Systems, B.S. at Commonwealth Campuses

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
First Year Seminar1-3CHEM 1111
CHEM 1103ACCTG 2114
EDSGN 100*3ENGL 15, 30H, or ESL 15‡†3
MATH 110 or 140‡†4PHYS 250 or 2114
General Education Course (GHW)1.5General Education Course3
ECON 104 or EBF 2003General Education Course (GHW)1.5
 15.5-17.5 16.5
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
AGBM 101 or ECON 1023BLAW 243, BA 243, or BA 241 and BA 2423-4
BIOL 110 or 11 and 124Selection3
CAS 100A or 100B‡†3Selection3
STAT 200 or 240‡†3-4General Education Course3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
 16-17 15-16
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
AGBM 106*3BRS 392‡†2
BRS 221*3BA 303 or AGBM 3023
BRS 300*3BRS 411 (even years)10-3
Selection - BRS Leadership/Entrepreneurship (ENGR 310, AEE 360, MGMT 215, or SUST 200)3BRS 417 (odd years)10-3
BRS 3503BRS 423 (even years)10-3
BRS 391‡†2BRS 4901
 Selection3
 Selection (odd years)10-3
 17 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BRS 402*3BRS 4263
BRS 4283BRS 431W (capstone)2
BRS 430W (capstone)1BRS 411 (even years)10-3
BRS 4223BRS 417 (odd years)10-3
BRS 429W3BRS 423 (even years)10-3
 Selection3
 Selection (odd years)10-3
 13 14
Total Credits 122-126

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

Advising Note:

A list of ‘selection’ courses can be found in the BRS Advising Manual: abe.psu.edu/documents/brs-advising-manual.pdf.  Students should consult with an academic adviser to discuss appropriate course selection.

Career Paths

The BioRenewable Systems major provides a broad background in science, technology, and business that can help you succeed in industry or a graduate degree program. Career opportunities for students are diverse, and the demand for graduates is expected to be very strong. According to the USDA, scientists, engineers, managers, sales representatives, and marketing specialists will account for 73 percent of the total annual U.S. employment openings for new college graduates with expertise in agricultural and food sciences in the early twenty-first century. Specific career paths vary by option.

Careers

Graduates may find jobs as market analysts, policy advocates, quality assurance managers, materials brokers, production-line supervisors, sales associates, educators, or technical service specialists within bioproducts or agricultural industries. These opportunities may be entrepreneurial, within small businesses, or with large food, agricultural, forest products, or industrial machinery firms. We expect our graduates to advance quickly in their fields. The success of our past graduates in related fields has created a continuing demand for future graduates. Recent annual starting salaries in these fields ranged from $35,000 to $60,000.

Opportunities for Graduate Studies

As a BioRenewable Systems graduate, you may pursue an advanced degree in agricultural and biological engineering departments or related science, sustainability, or business disciplines.

Professional Resources

Contact

University Park

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURAL AND BIOLOGICAL ENGINEERING
105 Agricultural Engineering Building
University Park, PA 16802
814-865-7792
abedept@psu.edu

https://abe.psu.edu