Ian Hahus, Deanna Esposito and Necla Mine Eren (from left) pose for a photo in the Agricultural and Biological Engineering building at Purdue University. Hahus and Esposito are seniors in the department, and Eren is a doctoral student. They shared their stories and experiences, which ranged from study abroad trips to internship opportunities, with AgriNews.
Ian Hahus, Deanna Esposito and Necla Mine Eren (from left) pose for a photo in the Agricultural and Biological Engineering building at Purdue University. Hahus and Esposito are seniors in the department, and Eren is a doctoral student. They shared their stories and experiences, which ranged from study abroad trips to internship opportunities, with AgriNews.
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 well-known colleges.

Placement after graduation is high, and students from the department are sought after by a variety of companies and government agencies.

“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 happy here.

“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 Purdue.

Hahus studied abroad in China for three weeks and has held several internships, including one with the Dubois County Soil and Water Conservation District.

“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 www.engineering.purdue.edu/ABE.