Resource Magazine November/December 2012 : Page 5

Q A Q A Information and Electrical Technologies Engineering? As in other industries, information and electrical technologies provide agriculture with increased efficiency, reliabil-ity, and safety. Information and electrical technologies are used throughout modern agriculture, from radio-frequency iden-tification collars on livestock, to electronic yield monitors and obstacle sensors on harvesters. The future of this field is very promising, and includes combining computers and sensors with mechanical systems for automated harvesting and sorting of produce, and using satellite-based guidance systems and robotic actuators to create tractors and combines that steer themselves across the field. Forest Engineering? Q A Structures and Environment Engineering? Forest engineering applies physical, biological, and engineering skills to solving problems in natural resources and environment, forest production systems, and related manufacturing industries. Forest engineers are involved in a full range of activities in natural resource management and forest pro-duction systems, and their engineering skills and expertise are needed to address problems related to equipment design and man-ufacturing, design and con-struction of forest access systems, machine operation and erosion control, forest ecosystem management and improvement, and wood product design and manu-facturing. Structures and environment engineers design and build greenhouses and animal housing, storage structures for food products, and waste handling facilities. In particular, these engineers design the systems that provide environmental con-trol for these facilities, including ventilation systems and equipment that heats, cools, lights, reduces harmful emissions, and controls conditions in and around specialized agricultural facilities, such as plant growth chambers, bioprocessing laboratories, commercial greenhouses, animal production facilities, cotton gins, grain elevators, and food processing plants. Aquaculture refers to raising fish and shellfish to sell as food and for other uses, such as ornamental and bait fish. Aquacultural engineers concentrate on increasing production while decreasing costs and environmental impacts. They seek ways to reduce pollution from aquaculture production systems, reduce excess water use, and improve ponds and other fish-rearing systems. They also work with aquatic harvesting, sorting, and processing systems. Agricultural and biological engineers who specialize in water quality, biotechnology, power and machinery, natural resources, food processing, environment, and sanitation are well-suited for careers in this expanding field. As natural fish supplies decline around the world, aquaculture is an area that will continue to grow. Q A Aquacultural Engineering? Q A Environmental Quality Engineering? Environment concerns are in the news: food processing plants are asked to reduce the pollutants returned to estuaries and bays, large-scale livestock production systems affect local water and air quality, and questions arise about the sustainability of the seafood industry. These and other environmental issues illustrate the opportunities available for engineering gradu-ates who understand the Earth’s sensitive ecosystem and the biological and physical treat-ment of pollution. The demand for environmen-tal engineering graduates has never been greater, because everyone must do a better job of protecting and improving the environment. Modern agriculture depends on mechanization, but these large machines can present hazards, especially when combined with long hours and solitary working conditions. Manufacturers strive to build equipment that is safe to operate and maintain by following industry-wide safety standards. Using injury data, field tests, and laboratory analysis, safety specialists study the use, and possible mis-use, of agricultural machines, and help ensure the equip-ment’s compliance with safety regulations. To keep informed of new standards, they often participate in the organizations that develop these guidelines. Safety special-ists and engineers are employed by equipment manufac-turers and government agencies, and they often work as consultants. Q A Standards and Safety? Thank you to Paul Heinemann, Professor and Head, Penn State Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, for his expertise and valued editing of this information. RESOURCE November/December 2012 5

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