The objective of this study was to assess the extent to which a common thread exists among all of the ag-based biological systems engineering programs across the U.S. through a course-by-course analysis of individual program curricula. Publically available curricula were used to determine the coursework requirements for 88 unique curricula in the U.S. Due to the lack of standardization of course titles in the discipline, disciplinary courses were grouped into themes, and summary tables showing the distribution of courses by theme in the different curricula were made. In addition, a self-organizing map was made using the categorized data to provide visual mapping of curricular similarity among programs. Results indicate that although all programs require similar basic math, science, and engineering fundamentals, there is wide variety in the discipline-specific requirements. For example, the two most common discipline-specific themes are required by only 61% and 75% of programs (basic engineering applied to agricultural and biological systems, and instrumentation and controls, respectively). Furthermore, results show that the name of the program and/or option generally conveys limited information about the content of the curriculum, although some differentiation between agricultural engineering programs and biological engineering programs is evident.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/raj_raman/22/