WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Agricultural and Biological
Engineering department at Purdue University touts No. 1 rankings for its diverse
set of undergraduate and graduate programs.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked the undergraduate program first in the country on three
different occasions. The graduate program has ranked No. 1 five times.
“It’s not just a fluke No. 1 — we’ve been here and are here
to stay,” said Dan Taylor, academic coordinator for the department. “The other
thing that is unique about us is we are small.
“In any one of our programs, you will graduate with a group
of about 30 students. Our students know each other. They know our faculty. They
are here at this huge, well-known Purdue University, but they are getting a
degree from a place that feels like home.”
The department offers degrees from both the College of
Agriculture and the College of Engineering, two of the university’s most
Placement after graduation is high, and students from the
department are sought after by a variety of companies and government
“Our students don’t struggle to find jobs, and they find
jobs in what they are trained to do,” Taylor said. “If you think of the grand
challenges of the world — energy, water, food, environment — that’s exactly what
we focus on here.”
The department offers three degrees: Agricultural
engineering, biological engineering and agricultural systems management.
“If you think of engineers as the guys who come up with new
technology, ag systems management majors are the ones that implement that
technology,” Taylor said. “They can do that in three primary fields: Machinery,
grain management and precision agriculture.”
Grain companies love ag systems management graduates because
they are problem solvers, he said.
Students studying precision agriculture are learning about
big data and developing new phone apps that can be used on the farm.
Ag systems management is the only College of Agriculture
degree in the department. However, the college recognizes engineering students
as agriculture students and invites them to take part in study-abroad programs.
The department has a passion for global outreach, Taylor
said. Senior projects and other assignments often revolve around solving issues
across the globe, especially in countries facing extreme poverty.
Necla Mine Eren, a doctorate student from Turkey, has found
the department to be a second home.
“All the faculty, all the staff, all the undergraduates —
there’s this huge connection in the department,” she said. “Behind the research
success is the ability of the department to make you feel at home. People are
“I teach three classes. My heart breaks when I know they are
going to graduate. I’m glad for them, but I miss them. I touch their life
somehow; they touch my life — that’s the reason behind the success.”
The department also is successful because of the focus on
collaboration rather than competition, she said.
“My favorite part about ABE is definitely the opportunities
I’ve had,” said Deanna Esposito, a senior in biological engineering from
Frankfort, Ill. “I’ve been able to study abroad, do research and do internships.
“The professors here remember you from the first day you
meet them. I was able to make connections.”
Ian Hahus, a senior in agricultural engineering from
Branchville, Ind., is focusing on environmental and natural resources while at
Hahus studied abroad in China for three weeks and has held
several internships, including one with the Dubois County Soil and Water
“To take what I had learned the semester before about the
environment to the district was a good opportunity,” he said. “Also, last summer
I took part in the SURF program, a summer undergraduate research fellowship. I
worked with a professor on agricultural air quality.”
To learn more about the department, visit