1. What does an Agricultural Engineer do?
Engineering is a large field and there are many career possibilities. Agricultural Engineers do what other engineers do-they invent, design, test and evaluate ideas and concepts to solve problems-as applied to the agricultural sector. Many are registered professional engineers, working in such fields as the farm and construction equipment industries, animal housing and environment, soil and water conservation, and irrigation.
2. Does your department offer scholarships for Agricultural Engineering?
Our department has a long and justifiably proud record of helping established upper class students secure scholarships for their education. Approximately 20 scholarships are awarded to Agricultural Engineering majors each year.
3. Where does your department rank nationally among comparable schools offering an Agricultural Engineering degree?
Out of the 43 schools that offer Agricultural Engineering degrees (September 2013), both our undergraduate and graduate programs rank in the top 10 according to the US News Report.
4. What academic strengths does a student need to become a good Agricultural Engineer?
Math and the sciences, such as physics, chemistry, and biology are basic aspects of engineering, so the student must be comfortable working with math and science.
5. Do I need a background in agriculture to enter this major?
No. The curriculum has the flexibility to allow students from both rural and urban backgrounds to succeed in the program and meet their personal career goals.
6. What percentage of students in the College of Engineering are Agricultural Engineering students? In the department?
Within the college, about 2% of students are Agricultural Engineering.
Within the three majors offered by the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, 14% are Agricultural Engineering majors. (as of 2013)
7. How many students graduate from our Agricultural Engineering program?
Five to ten students graduate in a typical year.
8. Do you provide on-site training in the program?
Attending an educational institution is in itself on-site training; in the course of their education, students learn to navigate computer packages and operate equipment integral to their interests. Our department provides many opportunities and settings for students to gain experience, such as the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory and the University Rogers Memorial Research Farm.
9. Do students have the opportunity to be involved in research projects?
Yes, students can perform research on their own as honor students or work on a faculty member's project. Some of the on-going and recent projects include tractor performance, irrigation and water applications, and precision agricultural instruments and applications.
10. What does the future of Agricultural Engineering look like?
There are many areas of growth within agricultural engineering that will require engineers, such as hydraulic systems, food safety, air filtration systems, efficient water application and utilization, worker health & safety, ergonomics for agriculture, and computer controls. As long as we need and raise plants and animals for food, fuel and fiber there will be a need for agricultural engineers to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of agricultural systems.
11. What salary range might an Agricultural Engineer expect when beginning this career?
If working for a large corporation, a beginning engineer might expect an annual salary of about $50,000. That salary will usually rise once licensure as a professional engineer has been attained. Working for a small company has many advantages that a large company can't offer, but the salaries are usually lower. The potential earnings over a lifetime will be determined by many factors, such as region, type of employment, and whether one chooses a managerial track or stays on the engineering staff.
12. What types of companies hire your graduates?
Large and small companies have been pleased with our graduates. Some students prefer to work with large manufacturers such as Caterpillar, John Deere or Case New Holland, while other students seek opportunities with small manufacturers or government agencies. Still others work as private consultants in their area of interest.
13. How soon, on average, do your students find jobs?
Most students secure employment before they graduate. The remainder wait until graduation since they might be deciding between employment or graduate education. Within 3 to 6 months, probably most students are working in their field of interest.
14. Is there a typical work environment for an Agricultural Engineer?
Not really; Agricultural Engineers work in a variety of environments from an office setting to working in the field. A desirable aspect of the major, according to several of our graduates, is that the work environment is variable.
15. What is the most enjoyable aspect about being an Agricultural Engineer?
Most engineers enjoy seeing the fruits of their labor—a successfully completed product—whether it is a piece of machinery or a water delivery system. Solving problems, working with ideas, equipment and people that one enjoys makes any career more satisfying.