Bioinformatics Major

professional at work in a bioinformatics lab

UIC’s bioengineering department is introducing a new undergraduate major in bioinformatics that is expected to welcome its first students in fall 2019.

Bioinformatics brings together computer science and biology, developing software and computational approaches to understand biological data. Bioinformatics is a form of data science that can help us to mine valuable answers from the huge amounts of medical and biological information that are out there in the world.

How will you develop a command of bioinformatics? UIC will give you a strong grasp of biology, especially cell biology, genetics, and theories of evolution. You will learn statistics, which is necessary for analyzing large datasets. And you will take computer science courses to become familiar with programming, data structures, and other key computing topics.

Bioinformatics has been a strength at UIC at the graduate level for many years. Now, undergraduate students will have the opportunity to study in this field, too.

Bioinformatics majors complete coursework in four categories:

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Nonengineering and general education courses

Nonengineering and general education courses are designed to provide you with a strong foundation in the sciences and make you a well-informed graduate in disciplines outside of engineering. This area includes fundamental courses in biology, chemistry, and math, as well as a range of “chart-your-own-path” classes in categories such as Understanding U.S. Society and Understanding the Creative Arts.

Bioengineering courses

All bioinformatics majors must take 10 bioengineering courses, which provide a grounding in the field. These courses are outlined in the curriculum flowchart for the new major.

Computer science courses

All bioinformatics majors must take six computer science courses. These courses also are outlined in the curriculum flowchart.

Selective courses

Bioengineering students earn 15 credit hours in this group, usually in the last three semesters of the program. Selective courses include a range of choices drawn from 300-level and 400-level coursework in bioengineering, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, statistics, and the College of Liberal Arts’ mathematics and computer science department.

Learn more about the bioinformatics major

To explore the bioinformatics major in greater detail, here are some key resources:

Program educational objectives: BioI major

As part of our accreditation process, ABET asks our department to capture the overall goals of the bioengineering program, including the bioinformatics major. These are called our educational program objectives. They are:

  • Graduates will compete effectively and favorably with peers for positions in industry, professional school, or graduate programs, as dictated by the students’ broader goals while at UIC.
  • Graduates will remain active contributors to the field of bioengineering through professional societies, service to scholarly or technical journals, alumni activities, mentoring, contributions to education or human resources, or other activities beyond the basic requirements of their occupation.
  • Graduates will demonstrate leadership in their professions, as evidenced by scholarly and technical publication or other measure of professional productivity, including awards and honors, and advancement within the organizations in which they are employed, as appropriate to the individual career path.

Student outcomes: BioI major

Another part of the ABET accreditation process requires the department to identify the specific knowledge and skills that students are intended to have when they complete their undergraduate education. These are called student outcomes.

Students graduating from the bioinformatics program at UIC will have:

  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. recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long learning.
  10. knowledge of contemporary issues.
  11. an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.
  12. an understanding of biology and physiology.
  13. the capability to apply advanced mathematics (including differential equations and statistics), science, and engineering to solve problems at the interface of engineering and biology.
  14. the ability to make measurements on, and interpret data from, living systems, addressing the problems associated with the interaction between living and non-living materials and systems.

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