Welcome to the inaugural issue of ABE@Illinois Connections e-newsletter – a new quarterly e-newsletter from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. So much has been happening at ABE; this newsletter will highlight the latest news from the department. Over the past years, Facebook and Twitter have been the medium that allowed us to increase our social media presence. We look forward to this e-newsletter as another way for us to be able to connect and draw attention to the ongoing and upcoming activities/events, share achievements and challenges, and further stir excitement in the ABE department.
I started my term as department head in May 2019, and I am excited to be part of the long tradition of excellence and innovation in the ABE department. I hope you enjoy this first edition, and I appreciate your suggestions and feedback as we work together in making this OUR e-newsletter. As always, thank you for your support.
Arden Weiss (BS '61 AgE, MS '65 AgE) has established the Arden Weiss Engineering Visionary Scholarship (EVS), the first such scholarship dedicated to Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
“I think it’s important to recognize and reward students who have demonstrated excellence and who have contributed to the department and the community,” says Arden. “Those are the people who are going to make a difference in the future.”
In 2012, in partnership with The Grainger Foundation, The Grainger College of Engineering launched an ambitious initiative to raise $100 million in endowment support. To date, almost $97 million of the $100 million has been raised. This year, The Grainger Matching Challenge will double the impact of Arden's gift. From now until December 31, 2019, The Grainger Foundation will match qualifying gifts and commitments to the EVS Initiative. Learn more about the Engineering Visionary Scholarship Initiative and how you can make an impact on our campus through The Grainger Matching Challenge.
Howard Wakeland (MS ’54 AgE) is one of two prominent alumni named as the 2019 ABE Distinguished Alumni. This award was established in 2008 to recognize alumni who have made contributions to the field and have maintained ties to the department and University.
Wakeland was a full professor in the Department of Agricultural Engineering and an associate dean in the College of Engineering. He directed undergraduate programming in Engineering, and he established international programs to provide opportunities for students involved in exchange programs around the world. Wakeland retired in 1993.
Allen Rider (Ph.D. ’73 AgE) is the second of two prominent alumni named as the 2019 ABE Distinguished Alumni.
Rider began his career at Oklahoma State, where he conducted research with New Holland. When he moved to the University of Nebraska, he continued this research, and eventually joined New Holland full time. At the time of his retirement (2004), Rider was president of New Holland North America. After retirement, Rider was actively involved in 25 by 25, a grass-roots initiative to encourage the country to obtain 25 percent of its energy from renewable resources by the year 2025.
ABE professor Tony Grift was inducted as an ASABE Fellow, class of 2019, at the ASABE International Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts on July 8th, 2019. Dr. Grift was also promoted to full professor in ABE in August 2019.
Dr. Grift received his B.S. from Utrecht Polytechnic, the Netherlands in 1987; his M.S. from Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands, in 1992; and his Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in 1998. He came to the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering in 2002. Here he develops robotics and sensing technologies that aid agriculture with efficiently reaching its production potential while minimizing its environmental impact.
"The grand challenge,” says Grift, “is to set humanity on a trajectory where it can feed itself sustainably, indefinitely, and from renewable sources alone.”
Congratulations, Dr. Grift!
Maria Chu and Jorge Guzman received a $500,000 grant from USDA NIFA to develop a computational tool that stakeholders can use for estimating and predicting soil erosion.
The ABE scientists’ goal is to develop and integrate a set of computational tools that can enable stakeholders to evaluate the effects of land management practices on erosion over time and space both at the local and regional scale.
Jordan Blake Banks ('19 ABE) is a 2019 recipient of the Fulbright Grant. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects to take place during one academic year in a participating country outside the U.S.
Banks is using her grant to pursue a master’s degree in bioenergy systems at the Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology (LUT) in Finland. Congratulations, Ms. Banks!
Professor Robert Aherin retired from the Department of ABE on August 31, 2019, after 35 years of service in agricultural safety and health. Dr. Aherin was recognized nationally and internationally for advancing understanding of the causes of agricultural injury and promoting effective injury and illness risk reduction measures. He led AgrAbility Unlimited, utilizing technologies and identifying resources to assist farm people with physical limitations in maintaining their livelihood at the highest level possible, regardless of age, disease, or accident-related disability. Congratulations on your retirement, Dr. Aherin – you will be greatly missed.
Dr. John Reid was recognized on September 27, 2019, for his ongoing and generous support of the Department of ABE, the College of ACES, and The Grainger College of Engineering. Dr. Reid is a former ABE faculty member who was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Dr. Reid and his wife Dini endowed a Jonathan Baldwin Turner Scholarship and they regularly support the ASABE ¼-scale tractor team (Illini Pullers). Dr. Reid left ABE in 2000 to take a position with Deere and Company, and today he leads the Enterprise Strategy for Automation to Autonomy, which will build organizational capabilities for delivering increased machine system and worksite productivity.
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