Resource Magazine — July/August 2012
Change Language:
from the President
Sonia Maassel Jacobsen

If we are to achieve results never before accomplished, we must expect to employ methods never before attempted

The National Academy of Engineering ranked the mechanization of agriculture as one of the top 20 engineering achievements of the 20th century. Agricultural and biological engineers can be proud that we contributed significantly to this achievement. But now it’s the 21st century. What new achievement will we claim? Could it be ending hunger?

As you know, we live in the Information Age, and technology is changing what we experience at a rapid pace. With this constant rush of information, seeing beyond short-term goals can be hard, but we need only look to the example of the Sony Walkman to know the folly of not looking ahead. Sony focused its time and money on producing the perfect Walkman, while Apple looked beyond that technology to the iPod. In the long run, the Walkman was a blip on the horizon, and now it’s gone.

The businesses that thrive in the 21st century will be those that are anticipatory, thinking ahead to the next innovation that will make life better. Success will also mean thinking globally. As of October 31, 2011, Earth has seven billion people. Providing food, clothing, shelter, and fuel for everyone will be a global challenge. But agricultural and biological engineers can do it, because we’ve done it before. We represent a profession that serves the world.

The future of agricultural engineering will be in precision agriculture and fascinating new sensor and control systems. The future of biological engineering will involve broad applications, from the micro-scale to the macro-scale, and it’s growing in new dimensions all the time. I challenge you to think beyond the technology that we’re using now, and dream big. And while you’re at it, give back so the world knows what fantastic professionals we are. Remember E – I – O: Expertise, Image, Outreach. Tell the world what we do, and be proud of being an agricultural or biological engineer! In the 20th century, we made the world a better place. Now we’re going to make a difference in the 21st century.

It has been an honor to serve as ASABE President.