Agricultural engineers apply biological and engineering sciences to the production of food and other biological resources. These engineers develop fish farms and other aquacultural technology, food processing methods, forestry and land-based farming practices. Agricultural engineers also use computer-aided design programs to design and test agricultural machinery and structures to store and process crops. In addition, they work in conservation projects, designing environmental and land reclamation projects and providing advice on water quality issues and pollution control.
General Education Courses
Like all bachelor’s degrees, a Bachelor of Science in agricultural engineering requires a number of general education classes which are drawn from the university’s other departments. These classes are important because they expose students to other disciplines and ideas that help them improve critical and analytical thinking and learn how to find and communicate knowledge from outside their area of specialty. Students generally have an enormous variety of courses to choose from in broad subject areas like humanities and the arts, cultural studies, social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences and technology and composition.
Math and Science Prerequisites
Because the agricultural engineering profession requires a substantial depth of knowledge and skill in biological sciences, students in this degree program have to take a number of courses in mathematics and natural sciences to prepare for the core agricultural engineering courses where these disciplines are combined and applied. Examples of mathematics and science prerequisites include general chemistry with a laboratory section and university physics with an emphasis on mechanics, calculus 1, 2 and 3, as well as differential equations and linear algebra.
Core Engineering Classes
The core curriculum in agricultural engineering begins in the first semester as students are introduced to the basic principles in introduction to agricultural and biological engineering. Over the first few semesters, students take additional core classes in agricultural engineering principles like machine systems, soil and water, bioenvironment and bioprocessing. Some upper-division core classes include applied statistical methods, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and electrical and electronic circuits.
In students’ last two years in the degree program, they can begin to specialize in particular areas of agricultural engineering by taking elective courses. These elective courses present advanced topics and methods in different aspects of agricultural engineering. Examples of upper-division electives include modeling and controls for agricultural systems, instrumentation for agricultural and biosystems engineering, natural resources management, fluid power engineering, air pollution, food and bioprocess engineering and grain processing and handling.
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Curriculum in Agricultural and Biological Engineering
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: General Education Requirements
- Iowa State University Catalog: Agricultural Engineering
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Agricultural Engineers
- Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images