Editor’s Note: Since 1987, the ASABE Foundation has provided opportunities to ensure that agricultural and biological engineering continues to prosper. Scholarships are granted to promising students, like Lizzie Hickman below, who are enrolled in agricultural or biological engineering programs. Interested? Check out www.asabe.org/foundation.aspx or contact Darrin Drollinger, ASABE Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Elizabeth Hickman Bettendorf, Iowa / 22 Biosystems Engineering BS, 2015 Oklahoma State University I have had a keen interest in water resources issues and the contemporary global water crisis since I was 15, and I knew I wanted to be a hydrologist as soon I as understood what that career path entailed. I had the necessary math skills to succeed, and I knew that the biosystems engineering path would equip me with a great many more skills and versatility than, say, environmental science or natural resource ecology. I have since grown as a student and future professional, and I have been challenged by my program at every turn. From my first semester at Oklahoma State, I was impressed with the tight-knit, welcoming nature of the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering department. I was especially excited about the department’s commitment to creating opportunities for undergraduate research and the dedicated participation in ASABE student design competitions, particularly Fountain Wars. I have been a member of OSU’s Fountain Wars team for all four years of my undergraduate career! I have received numerous scholarships during my time at OSU, including a major academic achievement award given at the university level to National Merit Scholar finalists. This past summer, I received the ASABE Robert E. Stewart Engineering Humanities Award at the Society’s Annual International Meeting in New Orleans. There are some important, prestigious scholarships available to undergrads that open doors. But opportunities and dreams don’t depend on a magic formula or accolades. Dedication to schoolwork and networking through actively engaging in the local student branch of ASABE can swing doors wide open, and people will take note of your passion. The summer after my freshman year, I worked as an undergraduate research assistant. I helped a handful of graduate students with whatever they needed done and assisted them with their experiments. It wasn’t the most glamorous work, but I think my skills and knowledge improved by a greater degree in that one summer than at any other time. I worked on an incredibly diverse array of projects, both in the lab and in the field. By the fall semester of my junior year, I was ready to take on a project of my own. I was put in charge of monitoring the performance of an experimental bioretention cell in the OSU Botanical Gardens. I was involved in every step of that project—from developing the setup and experimental procedures, to actually running the setup through data analysis and communicating the results. My experience in what it takes to conduct research has cemented my interest in being involved in research in my future career. Ag/bio engineers can take on an incredibly versatile range of work. With all the different options and emphases available in undergraduate degrees, an ag/bio engineering student or graduate who understands just how much they are able to accomplish has gotten past a significant hurdle! In my soil/water engineering emphasis, I find this variety exciting, rather than frustrating, because it means there is always something new to discover, always room for improvement to develop new and better ways of, for example, analyzing stream systems—or whatever the focus may be.
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