A DEGREE IN AGRICULTURAL AND/OR BIOLOGICAL ENGINEERING can be a fulfilling and rewarding path. Creative challenges and diverse opportunities abound. Many students delve into studies and research that leads to new solutions or the development of new products and processes. And education isn’t confined to formal classrooms. “What I want to be when I grow up” is often confirmed through internships—learning on the job—or studying abroad. The students and career professionals on these pages have taken the ag and bio engineering path, and all affirm that it is the route to an exciting profession working in service to humankind. We hope you will be energized by their profiles that reflect their dedication to the profession and their interests. Aaron Vancura Ord, Neb. / 23 Agricultural Engineering BS, 2014 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Application Engineer Industrial Irrigation, Hastings, Neb. I grew up on a farm and have always been enthusiastic about agriculture. That said, I also have a knack for math, science, and figuring out how things work. I put these two together, along with some helpful advice and a tour of UNL, and decided that I wanted to be an ag engineer. My first “real” experience in engineering, however, was at the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory as a student technician. For three years—from my sophomore year through graduation—I maintained test equipment, set up and ran performance tests, and oversaw improvement design projects. I learned what I enjoyed within the engineering field. At Vermeer Corporation in Pella, Iowa, as a design engineer intern on horizontal directional drills, I had a variety of assigned tasks. I not only honed my 3D modeling skills but also got a feel for the type of company that I wanted to work for after graduation. In New Holland, Pa., at Case New Holland as a combine field test intern on flagship combines, my responsibilities grew—from maintenance of test equipment and combines to testing and data analysis. I traveled to Maryland and Louisiana for field testing, rounding out an experience with a larger publicly traded company. Today, I am an application engineer at Industrial Irrigation in Hastings, Neb. Our main market as a distributor is for a variety of applications for industrial engines, including generator sets and irrigation power units. To be successful, I must multitask, work well under pressure, and pull from a diverse skill set. Duties range from design and test work to final assembly and interacting with customers. Strong people skills are a must. My current employer put me on a plane to Spain for training—even before I graduated—to familiarize me with the hardware and software of the products a Spanish company offered. As a future employee, this helped me to hit the ground running when I started the job. During a typical week, I test engines, wire control panels, create 3D models of parts, size and order various components for engine packages, and build frames for the engine packages. I gain the most satisfaction from seeing an idea on paper transform to the final product, knowing that I was a large part of that being possible. While it’s very important to grasp the fundamentals of engineering, my ag engineering program taught me the “how to” approach to challenging problems and strengthened my ability to sort through details to come up with a solution. If you are considering ag/bio engineering, educate yourself through tours and conversations with people already in a program. If you will graduate soon—congratulations! When job hunting, ask questions about the prospective employer in your interview; it’s as much an interview for you as it is for them. Learn as you go! My advice? Live every day like there’s no tomorrow, help those in need, be true to family and friends, and never stop learning.
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