ABE 223: Intro to Agricultural and Biological Engineering: Machine Systems

In Introduction to Agricultural and Biological Engineering: Machine Systems (ABE 223), students are familiarized with basic fluid power and engine power using a hands-on approach. Students receive an overview on off-road equipment used in agriculture, such as fertilizer applicators and combine harvesters.

“The class is very hands-on,” says Professor Tony Grift, instructor for ABE 223. “It combines stimulating labs with theory, and it opens students’ eyes in what being an engineer is really like and how rewarding it can be.”

Off-road machines use engines to generate power, and they convert that power using energy transfer systems to do useful work—in agriculture, forestry, construction, and mining. To address these topics, the course covers hydraulics, internal combustion engines, and agricultural equipment.

“I gained an appreciation of mechanical systems in general,” says Erik Grimes, a past student in ABE 223. “I gained experience in modeling systems like cannons and fertilizer spreaders, and I learned that you can always improve a design on paper before you improve it in a test.”

Students are able to participate in multiple labs and farm visits that allow them to have hands-on experiences while also being able to see firsthand the different dynamics that go into the engineering of off-road equipment.

“What I found most interesting was learning about hydraulic systems and the great amount of force that can be produced through pressure on incompressible fluids,” says Allison Nowak, a former student in ABE 223. “It was a great experience to work hands-on in a lab with a simple hydraulic system and to think of that application on a much larger scale.”

Continual Innovation Professor Tony Grift