Iowa University was the first school in the United States to offer a degree in Agricultural Engineering and this was way back in 1903. The pioneering graduates then formed the American Society of Agricultural Engineers in 1907. But now it is known as the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, as the program is usually called Agricultural and Biological Engineering, or even just Biological Engineering.
What is Agricultural Engineering?
This is the application of engineering scientific principles and technology to the field of agricultural production and processing. It’s mainly an engineering discipline, but it combines various disciplines such as chemical, civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering principles along with knowledge of agricultural principles.
So in college, an agricultural engineering student studies various subjects related to engineering and agricultural science. Subjects include water management and conservation for irrigation and livestock use, soil management including a focus on erosion, surveying and land profiling, and the design and use of agricultural machinery, equipment, and structures.
Other subjects are related to various aspects of crop management, livestock management of various poultry, fish, and dairy animals, atmospheric science, and waste management. Electric motors are also covered as the subject applies to agricultural technology, and so is biosource engineering which helps the environment with the use of machines on a molecular level.
Careers in Agricultural Engineering
There’s a high probability that you can put your degree in Agricultural Engineering to good use by being a technician of some sort. You can be part of a team that designs, installs, or services various types of equipment for forestry, horticultural, and agricultural needs.
You can also be a consultant who advises landowners, farmers, and government officials on various agricultural issues. These issues can be about more efficient use of equipment for more product farming, crop diversity, or managing environmental concerns.
Others who focus more on lab work may work in genetic modification companies, which produce crops that are easier to care for and are more resistant to disease. Genetic modifications have greatly affected the global agricultural scene, as it has improved production of various crops.
You may also focus on more environmental types of farming, which offer maximum use of limited sources to produce crops and fish products even in urban settings.
Top Universities for Agricultural Engineering
Agricultural Engineering is not one of the most common programs in universities, but plenty of very good schools offer it. The best school that offers a bachelor’s degree up to a doctorate in Agricultural Engineering, according to some experts, is probably Purdue University West Lafayette. But others say the best is University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
These top two contending schools are closely followed by University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, Iowa State University, and University of Florida. For the rest of the top ten, we have University of Nebraska Lincoln, Virginia Tech, University of California Davis, North Carolina State University Raleigh, and Ohio State University Columbus.
But if you’re only interested in a bachelor’s degree, Cornell University also offers this program, along with the University of California Berkeley.