In the nascent field of synthetic biology, researchers are striving to create biological systems with functionality not seen in nature. This special session features talks that emphasize the fundamental engineering principles underlying this endeavor, highlighting possible synergies with electronic design automation (EDA). Pamela Silver will describe designing and constructing proteins and cells with predictable biological properties. These serve as potential therapeutics, cell-based sensors, factories for generating bio-energy, and bio-remediation. J. Christopher Anderson will demonstrate how complex biological functions can be decomposed into modular devices. He will describe the construction of therapeutic organisms and new tools for building complex systems. Richard Murray will discuss the use of concepts from control and dynamical systems in the analysis and design of biological feedback circuits at the molecular level.