Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Larry D. Makus, Associate Dean for Academic Programs, College of Ag. Life Sciences (65 Agricultural Science Building, 83844-2336; phone 208/885-7984; fax 208/885-6654; Faculty: Erin Brooks, Lide Chen, Marvin  Heimgartner, Thomas J. Karsky, W. Howard Neibling, Jae Ryu.

The departmental mission is teaching, research, and extension to produce sustainable solutions for engineering and technological management problems in agriculture, environment, biotechnology, and natural resources through application and integration of the biological, chemical, physical, and management sciences. The department's teaching program includes a Bachelor of Science in Ag. and Life Sciences (B.S.Ag.L.S.) with a major in Agricultural Systems Management. The graduate program in biological and agricultural engineering is offered through the College of Graduate Studies.

The undergraduate degree program in Agricultural Systems Management (B.S.Ag.L.S.) is designed to prepare students to apply biological, physical, mechanical, and business knowledge to the production, service, sales, application, and management of the equipment and processes used in agriculture. The curriculum stresses courses in agriculture, agricultural systems management, and basic and applied sciences. It also includes a strong background in agricultural economics, accounting, and business. It prepares students for a variety of important and rewarding career opportunities across the entire spectrum of the food and fiber sector. Many graduates return to farming, while others pursue careers as farm managers or are employed in agricultural and natural resource-oriented businesses, banking firms, educational institutions, or governmental agencies. This curriculum is recognized by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers. The educational objectives in Agricultural Systems Management are:

  1. The graduate can communicate in writing and orally to clientele and the public about solutions to agricultural technology and management problems.
  2. The graduate has mechanical skills needed to develop, construct, alter and repair agricultural equipment systems.
  3. The graduate has knowledge in business, and in physical and biological sciences for application to system and technology development to creatively solve agricultural problems.
  4. The graduate has computer skills that can be used in the analysis and development of agricultural systems.
  5. The graduate has mathematical skills to quantify physical and biological processes in agriculture.
  6. The graduate has a social science and humanities background to provide sensitivity for the concerns of society and appreciate different points of view.

The agricultural systems management courses are also available to non-majors interested in obtaining an understanding of the technology used in modern agricultural production systems. A minor in agricultural systems management can be used to support degree programs in other departments.

Graduate study is offered in biological and agricultural engineering with specialization in irrigation, water and chemical management, hydrology, soil and water conservation, subsurface water and chemical transport modeling, and climate modeling; alternative fuels and lubricants; harvesting and handling food and bioproduct processing of agricultural crops; off-road vehicle development, instrumentation and control; equipment design and development; and bioremediation and organic waste management and treatment. The M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are primarily research degrees. Prospective students should have the equivalent of a B.S. degree in engineering and must have a working knowledge of computers including mainframe and microcomputers, structured programming, and electronic spreadsheets.

Assessment of departmental objectives is accomplished by student interviews. All graduates are interviewed at the time of graduation by the department to evaluate concerns, opportunities, and effectiveness of its educational programs. The assessment statistics can be obtained from the departmental office.


See course description section for courses in Agricultural Systems Management (ASM).