Skip navigation

2017 July ABeNotes

2017 July ABE Alumni News

Michael Montross (PhD ABE '99) has been appointed the chairman of the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. Mike spent his time at Purdue studying with Professor Dirk Maier. Congratulations!

2017 July ABE Graduate Student News

Congratulations to Jingqiu Chen for the second-place award at the 38th Annual Indiana Water Resources Association Symposium. Her poster, "Assessment of simulated precipitation from updated CLIGEN database: impacts on urban runoff," under the guidance of Drs. Engel and Gitau, was honored at the June 28-30, 2017 conference titled "Threats To and From Indiana's Water Resources" held at Turkey Run State Park..

Purdue ag technology researchers part of winning hackathon team

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Two researchers in Purdue University’s Open Ag Technologies and Systems (OATS) Group were part of the five-member winning team at the Nutreco Agrivision Hackathon, an international competition to promote the potential of data and technology innovation in livestock farming.

Aaron Ault, senior research engineer for OATS, and Samuel Noel (5th from left), graduate student in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, helped devise Swine Smarts, a software package that streamlines the flow of critical livestock health, muscle and fat percentage data among farmers and their feed and genetics suppliers.

In addition to Ault and Noel, team members were Bram Visser, Hendrix Genetics; Rob Knapen, Wageningen University; and honorary member Simeon Nedkov, a geo-IT consultant.

The team received a golden pig trophy and $2,800 check to fund further research from former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, a speaker at the Agrivision conference in the Netherlands where the competition was held.

“Participating in this hackathon was a fantastic experience for us,” Ault said. “The room was full of a such a great set of super smart people that we were really inspired by the power of communities to tackle hard problems. It is amazing to see how groups of people who started the day as strangers could all come together to build promising solutions only 32 hours later.”

The OATS Group consists of farmers, professors, students, scientists and engineers from Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering and the Department of Agriculture and Biological Engineering in the College of Agriculture. Its mission is to develop open-source projects for data analysis in agriculture.

“It is exciting to be on the forefront of the digital ag revolution,” said OATS Group member Dennis Buckmaster, assistant dean and professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. “But collecting data is not enough. In order to provide value to everyone in the ag supply chain, the data must be readily accessible and sharable. That is why we are focused on providing useful, practical solutions to ag data challenges.”

For more information on the OATS Group, visit the website at

Writer: Darrin Pack, 765-494-8415,

Source: Aaron Ault, 765-494-3530,


2017 Has Proven a Fruitful Year for Student Competitions

This past academic year has been a banner year for our students competing for national and international recognition.

The all-ABE team in the Indiana Soybean Board Student Soybean Innovation Competition kicked things off in April by taking first place. Andrew Huang, Sushant Mehan, Samaneh Saadat, and Anderson Smith won with their product, FiltraSoy, a soy-based HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) filter for use in residential and commercial applications. The FiltraSoy filter is made from renewable resources and is biodegradable, making it environmentally friendly. It is roughly 15% more effective than current high-efficiency HVAC filters available on the market.

Later that month, the ABE/ME team won the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge, a contest requiring students to build a chainless bicycle powered solely by hydraulic pumps and motors. The Purdue Tracer was designed with a custom bike frame that doubles as the hydraulic oil reservoir, and a smartphone app to monitor telemetry.

June was another busy, beginning with the ASABE 1/4-Scale Tractor competition. This year was the 20th competition and the all-ABE Purdue Pullers celebrated by bringing home the overall championship. Near the end of June, a new team from Purdue participated in the agBOT Challenge 2017. The team, comprising students from ABE and ME, brought home second place in the Weed & Feed Competition. ABE students Ryan Romanowski, Cole Mundell, and Zhihang Song were part of the team led by Professor Roger Tormoehlen and Richard Fox.

Thank you all for representing us so well!



Posters on the Hill 2017

Author: Paige Rudin
The iGEM team participated in DC for the Council on Undergraduate Research's (CUR) Posters on the hill and had a successful adventure. In addition to the poster session, the team met with Senators Joe Donnelly and Chris Young. "We even planned ahead and did a little Day of Giving promotion on Capitol Hill," says Paige Rudin.

Flying low over the Potomac River, the monuments are visible through keyhole windows as the plane tilts to turn. Touchdown on the tarmac commenced a two-day experience April 25-26, 2017 in Washington, D.C. known as the Council on Undergraduate Research’s (CUR) Posters on the Hill (PoH). Chosen as one of 60 projects from over 300 applications nationwide, the Purdue University International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team was visiting to present the findings of a year of research and speak with congressional representatives about the importance of continuing to fund undergraduate research. The team, working since the beginning of summer 2016, composed a project engineering non-pathogenic E. coli to absorb luxury phosphorus for wastewater treatment to prevent toxic algal blooms. Ties to agriculture, water quality, and energy made this proposal both relevant and timely in the face of annual summer algal blooms. Rising juniors Caleigh Roleck (Biochemistry) and Paige Rudin (Biomedical Engineering) and rising senior Suraj Mohan (Biological Engineering) represented their complete team of six undergraduate students who operate independently under the advisement of Drs. Jenna Rickus and Kevin Solomon, both Agricultural & Biological Engineering faculty. Dr. Elizabeth Brite, Honors College, accompanied the students to D.C.

In the evening of Day 1, CUR hosted an advocacy training session to assist young scientists with preparing their elevator pitches to describe the funding they had received in pursuing these projects that sparked interests and propelled them toward research-oriented careers. Free time after the presentation was filled with a walk around the National Mall to take in the sights. Day 2 was show time—with the assistance of Matt Sommer of Debbie Hohlt’s D.C. office tasked with representing Purdue’s interests, Caleigh, Paige, and Suraj met with Indiana Senators Donnelly and Young to discuss the impact their research experience has had on them and ask for consideration in this year’s revision of the Higher Education Act as well as future legislation. After the opportunity to explore the capital in the afternoon, all students involved with PoH returned to the Capitol for an evening poster session targeting senators, representatives, and their staff. It was a wonderful chance to connect with students and faculty from across the country in addition to distinguished legislators speaking with student researchers about the significance of their experiences. The annual PoH event exposes bright students to the realities of lobbying and policy making and encourages them to exercise their right to be heard on issues that matter to them.

Contact Us

Send your thoughts on what you’d like to see in this e-newsletter to Purdue ABE at