The Agriculture in Agricultural Engineering
By Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
October 13, 2017

ABE Student, Alex Brockamp, shares his #ACESstory!

Fall is finally here and other than the usual football games, pumpkin spice lattes, and bonfires, it can only mean one thing: harvest season.  This annual, allergy-inducing event is the final step in the yearly cycle for farmers. Although it might be surprising to some, farming and engineering are very similar. 

Engineers and farmers are tied together more than you might think.  Who designed the combine that’s used to harvest the corn? An engineer.  Who helped create the perfect mix of insecticides and herbicides to help the farmer get the most out of their crop? A biological engineer.  Who is mapping the drainage patterns around a farmer’s field to see when and how much fertilizer should be applied? I think you see my point.

Engineers are very concerned with efficiency, and guess what? Farmers are too!  Farmers spend all of harvesting trying to find an efficient use of their time as they manage family conflicts, equipment breakdowns, and the weather. Is the field too wet?  Is my corn dry enough?  Do I have somewhere to put the corn when I get it out of the field?  Is the price of corn high enough for me to make a profit? Farmers are asking themselves these questions all the time to make the decisions that are right for them. 

These decisions echo my own choices I make on a daily basis.  Which assignment is due first? Have the lecture slides been posted yet? When are office hours? Engineers and farmers have to deal with things outside of their control on a daily basis.  And like engineers, a farmer’s success is based on how he or she reacts to these situations.

Farmers have to rely on teamwork to get the job done.  I’ve found that engineering is exactly the same way.  It may not be pretty, and you might get dirty, but eventually you find success.

I know that a lot of the students in Agricultural and Biological Engineering are not from a rural community, so I encourage you to go talk to a farmer!  See where our food comes from and the hard work that goes into producing it.  You might find that farmers are just as concerned with efficiency as we are.  Remember, farmers work out in all sorts of weather when we are sitting in a climate controlled classroom.  No farmers, no food.