Saturday 25 March 2017
Advanced technologies such as computers, electronics and communications — including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones — have begun to fundamentally change the agricultural and food industry in the United States.
All stages of agricultural production require extensive knowledge of sophisticated technologies and engineering, as well as basic knowledge of entrepreneurship, management, economics and finance. Advanced technologies and the agricultural market have created significant needs for engineers trained in a variety of technical and business fields.
We present an internship program initiative for educating underserved students from California's Central Valley to prepare them for the new agricultural industry.
The program was funded by a joint grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). This project aims to develop an innovative modular approach to enrich the mechanical engineering curriculum by introducing students to advanced technologies. The program is designed to prepare our students by providing them with training in a broad range of skills focused on advanced technologies, so that they will be able to help build the future of the agricultural and food industries in the Central Valley and around the country.
The program follows USDA educational strategies, while the planned long-term outcome meets a number of NIFA priorities, including food safety and water quality.