When engineering meets science
Ensuring a sustainable future—by improving agricultural, food and other biological systems—requires much more than scientific prowess. the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a world-class leader in this aspect.
Its unique mission is to merge engineering skills with training in complex systems analysis for food, agriculture, energy and the environment. The innovative combination cemented the department’s stellar reputation as one of the best in the United States. just celebrated his 100th anniversary last year, it is also one of the most historic in the country.
ABE’s small size further adds to its appeal, ensuring every learner near and far has a personalized, engaging and collaborative journey at the forefront of a healthier and more abundant world. “We are the second smallest engineering major on campus, which allowed me to experience a small community within a large college, which is very unique for engineering students in ‘Illinois,’ confirms ABE senior Fina Healy.
The journey begins with an underlying drive to achieve interdisciplinary excellence. Daniela Markazi sought to merge her passions for robotics, engineering and computer science with her natural talent for biology, environmental science and sustainability. EBA ABET Accredited BS Program in Agricultural and Biological Engineering was designed for such curiosity.
It answers burning questions by providing unlimited opportunities for high-impact learning experiences, such as hands-on research with the Integrated Bioprocesses Research Lab or the Illinois Autonomous Farm; design contest; entrepreneurial activities; study trips abroad; and much more. Up to 91% of students reported having completed an internship or co-op during their study program.
Markazi too, but that’s not all. In addition to being president of the student chapter of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers; she studied abroad three times, helping with Hurricane Maria disaster relief and resilience initiatives in Puerto Rico; she designed and created a robot called “The Agrobot”, based on real agricultural robots; and she developed and taught her own computer science class – while an undergraduate.
A complete and illustrious resume made it easier for him to land his role as a robotics engineer with the intelligent machinery company John Deere. However, she hasn’t let her career stop her from advancing her new skills at the college she knows and loves. Today, Markazi is back at his alma mater, on his way to doctoral success with a doctorate in computer science.
“Right now, as a PhD student, I can still see how positively the ABE has impacted my life!” she enthuses. “I’m proud to be part of this university, and I’m especially proud to be an ABE graduate.”
Dr. Jamison Watson’s academic background made him a better candidate for the Master of Science Program in Agricultural and Biological Engineering — an option that he knew perfectly complemented his “ever-changing” research interests. Even before he finished qualifying, Watson began aiming for a PhD in ABE.
The plan proved successful. While doing doctoral work in Professor Yuanhui Zhang’s research lab to explore the transformation of biomass into fuel, he was awarded a Schmidt Science Fellowship. The prestigious fellowship allowed him to work at MIT as a postdoctoral fellow, conducting research using microbial electrolysis cells to convert toxic compounds in sewage into more benign ones – a result which he says n would not have been possible without the PhD in ABE from Illinois. .
“Through the ABE MS and PhD programs, I have developed a holistic and comprehensive skill set that combines theory and practice,” he says. “Overall, they have provided me with an unprecedented level of scientific rigor, intellectual curiosity and personal freedom, which have been instrumental in finding employment after graduation.”
Those focusing on employability might prefer to look at EBAs Professional Scientific Master in Bioprocesses and Bioenergy. The business-embedded program has been designed to prepare learners for lucrative careers in the bioenergy life cycle – from supplying raw materials to transporting and distributing biofuels.
During this time, the Professional Scientific Master in Engineering, Technology and Management of Agricultural Systems program merges technology with management in a systematic approach. It prepares students for technical and leadership careers in the management of agricultural and biological systems.
While all are fulfilling routes to a PhD in ABE, those without graduate degrees are not unlucky. In this dynamic department, doctoral excellence is also an option for outstanding BS graduates. The best part? They will be guaranteed a funded appointment that includes a full tuition waiver, partial fee waiver, and stipend during their first five years of enrollment.
To discover the role you can play in improving society through sustainable food and energy, Click here to find out more on the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.