FAQ

We get a lot of questions about the BSE program! If you have any questions that aren’t addressed here or elsewhere on this site, please contact us at sefsadv@uw.edu.

  • What is BSE?

Bioresource Science and Engineering is an accredited engineering degree  and is the only engineering program at the UW that is not in the College of Engineering. BSE students graduate with a bachelor of science with a major in bioresource science and engineering, and are process engineers. The BSE program applies natural products chemistry, process engineering, and material science to the sustainable production of fuels, chemicals, and fiber products from biomass resources.

  • What kind of classes do BSE students take?

Students take classes on engineering principles, materials science, natural products chemistry, process engineering and pulp and paper science. Suggested course sequencing.

  • What is the difference between BSE and Chemical Engineering?

 BSE students take the same core engineering classes as ChemE students, in addition to learning about natural products chemistry, biomaterials, and bioconversion. BSE and ChemE students are equally qualified for many process engineering  jobs and internships, with BSE students having the advantage of increased understanding of the conversion of natural resources to fuels and products.

The purpose of the WPPF is to attract and support exceptional BSE students and provide the industry and its allied partners a pipeline of highly qualified engineering graduates who understand and are dedicated to the pulp and paper and allied industries. The Foundation provides scholarships and internship opportunities, and acts as a liaison between member companies and students. The WPPF is a part of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, but is not involved in teaching.

  • Is this program only about pulp and paper?

No!  In 2009 the name changed to Bioresource Science and Engineering (formerly “Paper Science and Engineering”) and along with it, the focus of the program shifted to treating pulp and paper as only one set of products that can be made from bioresources like trees. Many other products and processes are discussed, including the production of biofuels, biochemicals and bioenergy.

  • Isn’t the pulp and paper industry a tree-killing, dying industry?

Far from it! Many grades of paper are increasing in demand (eg. cardboard, absorbent pulp for diapers, tissue grades) and the industry is on the leading edge of environmental sustainability with continuous improvements in water treatment, emissions, and use of sustainable feedstocks. There is also a great deal of innovation into many aspects of papermaking, including new grades of paper incorporating nanomaterials or non-wood fiber, and the use of enzymes and biotechnology to reduce chemical and energy use.

The paper industry is one of the 10 largest in the U.S. Its products are essential to every citizen, with uses ranging from high tech packaging systems to non-woven medical applications.  Paper is the most recyclable material used in modern economies, and pulp mills are becoming important suppliers of biofuels and green energy, as well as fiber products.

  • Do BSE program graduates all go to work in the pulp and paper industry?

Definitely not! Our alumni get into top-ranked graduate programs in engineering, business and environmental science, and they get great jobs. The figure below shows where BSE alumni go right after graduation. (click to make larger)

BSE graduate jobs