Areas of Study

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The department is a leader in the application of engineering principles to solve problems of agricultural production and utilization and to improve the quality of life. Specific research projects are continually changing to meet new challenges and opportunities. Faculty are conducting research in all major areas of agricultural engineering and technical systems management including the areas outlined below. For more information on our graduate degree programs you can also visit the University of Illinois academic catalog website.

Agricultural Safety

Research involves model programs for collection of data related to farm injuries and illnesses, redesign of on-farm structures and management procedures to reduce risk of airborne contaminants to worker injuries, development of sensors on off-road vehicles for human detection and safety, utilization of behavioral psychology models in the prediction and analysis of agricultural safety behaviors and providing assistance to farmers with physical disabilities. Research is being conducted to develop a human presence detection system as part of intelligent safety protection systems for off-road equipment.

Bioenvironmental Engineering

Research involves environmental control for biological systems, indoor air quality, control of airborne contaminant emissions, environmental protection, animal response to environment, light frame structural design, and energy from biomass. A few specific projects include improving agricultural ventilation performance, reducing dust and odor emissions from livestock facilities, measuring airborne particulate distribution, providing good environments for laboratory animals, and converting swine manure into oil.

Food and Bioprocess

Research involves bioprocess modifications to develop new food coproducts with high nutritive or pharmaceutical value, to reduce food processing plant waste streams, and to evaluate improved starch characteristics of milled grains. State-of-the-art separation technologies, such as microfiltration, are being applied to conventional corn processes to give better products while gaining improved process efficiencies.

Grain Quality and Properties

Research involves developing improved corn wet and dry milling processes, dry-grind ethanol processes which remove the germ first (Quick Germ), determination of starch viscosity with rapid visco analyzer (RVA), drying effects on quality of grains, detection of extractable starch using near-infrared spectroscopy, measurement of fermentable starch, distiller’s dried grains (DDGS), and fatty acids, amino acids, and isoflavones in soybeans using FT-NIR and other physiochemical quality tests for grains and oilseeds.

Off-Road Equipment Engineering

Research involves advanced technology development for off-road vehicles, modeling of in-field crop handling systems, and evaluation of biofuels for diesel-powered vehicles.

Precision Agriculture

Research involves development of sensors, information mapping systems and control systems for more precise management of in-field crop planting and chemical application. Remote sensing is a major feature with the recording and processing of data from satellites, planes and ground-based vehicles leading to both map-based and real-time control of crop planting and chemical application.

Soil and Water Resources Engineering

Research involves the management of our soil and water resources, which includes watershed hydrology, subsurface drainage, runoff, and stormwater management.

Technical Systems Management

Combining knowledge of science, systems management, and applications engineering, the TSM program provides excellent preparation for careers in the production, processing, and manufacturing of food, fiber, feed, fuel and construction management. Students focus on the application of engineering principles, the study of technology used in agriculture, and the integration of business concepts in the food and agricultural industries. TSM also has a Professional Science Master's option.

Water Quality

Research involves the processes related to water contaminant transport, effects of those contaminants on water use, processes causing contamination and the correction and avoidance of contamination of water. Contaminants of interest include sediment, nutrients, pathogens, and chemicals.

Note: Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) Option
Our ABE graduate program is participating in the Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) Option. Our M.S. and Ph.D. students may elect the CSE Option. Dr. Yuanhui Zhang is our official ABE CSE Program Contact. Please visit the CSE website for the Option details and the admissions page for how to satisfy the Option requirements and receive an Option certificate.