This branch is not concerned with human biology at all as many might perceive. The major two divisions of this branch are:
1) Biochemical Engineering: This basically deals with the design, optimization and construction of bioreactors that involve biological organisms or molecules
2) Biotechnology: This mainly involves application of pure sciences i.e Microbiology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Genetics, Enzymes, Bionanotechnology etc.
On the whole it is concerned with Research & development of various microbial and enzyme system and developing understanding of biological / biochemical phenomena underlying such systems. As a biochemical engineer, you are expected to undertake industrial consultancy jobs to solve the specific problems of bioprocess industries. For example you might be asked to give dimensions to a chromatography column i.e. column diameter, column height or you might be asked to scale-up (increase the volume many times) a bioreactor from lab scale to industrial scale.
Courses involve some basic mathematics and you need not have any pre-requisite knowledge of biology at all. Whatever biology is necessary will be taught to you there and then. Most of the courses are easy to handle and the faculty makes it even easier (leaving a few of course). The field is growing by leaps and bounds and will definitely be able to keep anyone interested throughout, more if you like Biology.
As far as future prospects are concerned it is a very good and interesting branch if you are looking for some kind of research area but since last year not many core companies are coming for it. The fact that it is a 5 year course should not prevent you from opting for it if you have even the slightest of interest for it but if you are planning to study Management or work in Non-Core fields (the choice of many) then you need to spend one year extra.
Kanika Khanna & Charu Mehta
(Any queries can be mailed to – firstname.lastname@example.org)