Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University
The Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State, the first of its kind in the United States, is one of the nations leading education and research institutions in solving problems related to agricultural engineering and agricultural systems technology. Each year more than 50 men and women complete a degree in either agricultural engineering or agricultural systems technology.
Students in agricultural engineering are exposed to a diverse curriculum that will equip them with skills and knowledge to create better agricultural systems.
- Environmental and natural resources engineering. This area emphasizes water and air quality, waste systems management, and sustainable agriculture.
- Biosystems engineering. This area combines engineering and the biological sciences in the design of new products and systems.
- Food and process engineering. The focus of this area is on developing processes and equipment for the food industry and adding economic value to agricultural commodities.
- Power and machinery engineering. This area challenges the creative mind to design and improve upon the next generation of road vehicles and agricultural equipment.
- Structural and environmental engineering. The emphasis of this area is designing agricultural buildings and environmental control systems for efficient animal production or crop storage.
An agricultural systems technology curriculum involves a broad field of study in precision farming, animal environment and structures, computer operation, bioprocessing, electric and electronic operation, grain operation, energy use, and livestock production.
Faculty in agricultural and biosystems engineering have achieved a high degree of excellence in teaching, research, and educational innovation. Their extraordinary efforts have resulted in many awards, honors, and recognition from receiving the highest distinction within their professional society to honorary degrees from international universities. The superior ability of the faculty is matched by the close attention they give to students in small class sizes of 15 to 30 students. Each student has a faculty advisor who answers questions about course selection and career opportunities. An excellent faculty advisor ratio of 16 to 1 helps students in designing a program that matches their interests and professional goals.
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The Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering is committed to providing students with a productive study environment that features
- living communities that facilitate communication by housing agricultural engineering majors on the same dorm floor
- learning communities in Davidson Hall that can be used for group projects, design teams, and other team activities
- student lounges and mailboxes for each student to enhance direct contact with faculty and other students
The department maintains over 30 advanced computers with internet connections and sophisticated software. Students have access to state-of-the-art, hands-on labs in the areas of
- engine building
- biomaterial management
- agricultural machinery
- biosystems crop modeling
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Student organizations like the American Society for Agricultural Engineers and the Agricultural Systems Technology Club provide opportunities for students to develop professional skills while they are studying. Club activities will help you sharpen communication skills and enhance leadership ability through professional meetings, service projects, social activities, and national student paper and design competitions.
As an agricultural engineering major, you can find work opportunities at various levels.
- Some undergraduates work part time on departmental research projects, gaining valuable experience for later employment.
- Many students gain practical work experience through internships and co-ops during their sophomore, junior, or senior year; average salaries of agricultural interns range from $1,400-$2,200 per month*.
- A new foreign student program at Silsoe College, England, gives students experience working in todays global market; exchange programs with Mexico and Germany are being planned for the future.
The Honors Program at Iowa State also provides high-ability students opportunities to enhance their skills. Students plan their own course of study and complete an independent study project while enrolling in honors courses and seminars.
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The support of over 200 individuals and corporations maintains an engineering scholarship endowment of nearly $9 million. From these and other funds the college awards more than 900 scholarships totaling more than $1.3 million each year. Agricultural engineering students can apply for scholarships provided by the College of Engineering and the department. Outstanding freshmen and transfer students may also apply for a Wessman Memorial Scholarship offered by the department. Scholarships range from $500 to full tuition and are awarded to freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors majoring in agricultural engineering. The Iowa section of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers also sponsors several scholarships.
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Engineering is a career path that works! More than 3 million engineers work in the U.S. today, making engineering the nations second-largest profession. According to the Department of Labor, the job market is projected to remain strong well into the millennium. The average starting salary for an agricultural engineering graduate is more than $43,000.
Agricultural engineers are in increasing demand. Nearly all students with engineering work related experience have jobs by graduation. For example:
- 95% of co-op students are placed by graduation
- 85% of interns are placed by graduation
- 79% of graduates with summer work experience are placed by graduation
Iowa States agricultural engineering graduates design agricultural equipment and food production lines, manage processing plants,
develop crop production systems, research ground water quality,
develop software, design animal facilities, serve as industry consultants, market equipment, design structures, and test machinery. Graduates work in all parts of the world; many earn advance degrees, becoming experts in their chosen fields.
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To learn about opportunities in agricultural and biosystems engineering, contact
Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
102 Davidson Hall
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-3080
* All statistics are based on surveys conducted in spring 1999.
Go to Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering web.
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