ASABE Midwest Rally cultivates connections in agricultural and biological engineering

Illinois ASABE members smile for a group picture.
Illinois ASABE members gathered for the ASABE Midwest Regional Rally at the University of Illinois last week.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign hosted over 50 students from six Big Ten universities for the 2024 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) Midwest Regional Rally from March 21 - 23. 

Hosted annually at rotating locations, the ASABE Midwest Regional Rally is an opportunity for agricultural and biological engineering students from across the region to come together, network with industry professionals, learn about job opportunities in this space, and explore options for graduate school.  

This year, the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) at Illinois had the opportunity to showcase its state-of-the-art facilities and award-winning program. ABE is part of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and The Grainger College of Engineering

The rally featured a diverse array of activities, including networking sessions and guided industry tours of Hydro-Gear, Dean Bacon & Beef, John Deere Technology Innovation Center, Prairie Farms, and Riggs Beer Company. They also toured the labs in the Agricultural Engineering Sciences Building (AESB) building and the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL) to learn about the current research happening at UIUC.

Allison Nguyen, a senior Illinois ASABE member, toured Hydro-Gear, a company that manufactures specialized drivetrains. “Getting to see all aspects of the process, from manufacturing to assembly to testing out the equipment, was a great experience,” she said. 

The keynote address was delivered by Michelle Sterrett, a 2016 Aerospace Engineering graduate from Illinois and a vehicle architect for CNH Industrial, which was a major sponsor for this year’s Midwest Rally. When discussing plans for sustainability, Sterrett said, “We have the potential to really make a big impact here.”  

Hannah Rockwell, president of Illinois’ ASABE chapter and rally planning committee chair, was integral to the success of this event. In reflection, she said that “the rally was a unique opportunity to witness other students’ passions and contributions to ABE.”

Christina Tucker, the director of operations for the Center for Digital Agriculture (CDA) at Illinois, reflected on her own memorable experience as an ASABE member during her undergraduate years. She recalled traveling to Illinois from the University of Kentucky, a trip that significantly impacted her future. “The ASABE Midwest rally was one of the key reasons I came to Illinois for graduate school,” she added. 

Now, as one of the Illinois ASABE faculty advisors, Tucker shapes these experiences and opportunities for the next generation of ASABE members.  

Special gratitude is extended to sponsors CNH Industrial, Hydro-Gear, Maurer-Stutz, Janie’s Mill, and FSHN Pilot Processing Plant

To learn more about ASABE and the educational opportunities at Illinois, contact Ronaldo Maghirang at To support programming like this, contact the College of ACES advancement team at or 217-333-9355.

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