May 2018 ABeNotes

May 2018 ABE Gives Back

We have received word from Food Finders Food Bank regarding our volunteer sessions at the warehouse this past quarter. We had approximately 15 different volunteers who carded approximately 44 hours of cumulative time. Using the Food Bank's conversion of pounds of food handled to meals, we helped provide almost 44,000 meals! Thank you to those that helped.

Another opportunity is available this Saturday - the National Association of Letter Carriers' Annual "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive is this Saturday and they have multiple times and locations where help is needed. The areas of greatest need are:

  • Support at the various drop-off sites around town (specifically at Business Systems Solutions) - various times available
  • Support during the 5-7 pm shift at the Food Finders Food Bank Warehouse

Grab your family and friends and enjoy the beautiful weather with us! 

AgrAbility News - May 2018

Indiana AgrAbility rural rehabilitation specialist Steve Swain moderated two roundtable discussions at the Health and Human Sciences Spring Training Update held at the Beck Center on the Purdue Agronomy Farm.  The training is an annual event to bring the Purdue Extension Health and Human Sciences educators in the county offices up-to-date on available programs and trainings by the extension specialists on campus.  The roundtable discussions centered on the aging farmer and their attitude of not having a disability but just getting older and how to provide information to continue farming safely.

ASPIRE 2018 Internships

For the second year the ASPIRE Internship program will offer paid internships to students who successfully finished the 2017-18 Purdue Student Soybean Innovation Competition. 

ASPIRE students will participate in research and customer delivery activities on campus full-time for 11 weeks during the summer.  Students will conduct research, attend professional development seminars, build their research network, and advance their soy-based prototype towards commercialization and/or a student start-up company.

The ASPIRE Internship will –

  1. Expose students to cutting-edge research and entrepreneurship by providing them additional development opportunities
  2. Develop their knowledge of the research and marketing tools used by professional researchers and marketing experts
  3. Increase their proficiency in technical communication, customer delivery and entrepreneurship
  4. Help students connect their summer experience with their future goals, with particular focus on agricultural areas, both research, customer discovery and entrepreneurship

ASPIRE Internship students this year are – Susan Hubbard from Biological Engineering, Samantha Tinney from Animal Sciences, Patrick Woodson from Biological Engineering and Luping Xu from Food Science.  Congratulations to all and Good Luck!

For additional information on the ASPIRE Internship visit the web page at -


agBot Challenge logo

Contact Rachel Gerrish
Telephone 765-918-8666

May 1, 2018

agBOT Challenge marks third year in 2018

Rockville, IN: Gerrish Farms and airBridge LLC. of Rockville, Indiana, are busy in preparations to host their third annual agBOT Challenge May 17th, 18th and 19th. The cutting edge competition has gained global attention by bringing advanced technologies and artificial intelligence to the fields of the Midwest.

Innovative teams from CalPoly, Indiana State University, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Purdue, Colorado Mesa University, Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis will compete for $100,000 in prize money as well as entrepreneurs from Canada, Indiana, Alabama, and South Carolina.

Teams will be demonstrating machines capable of autonomously moving through the fields, identifying plant health, eradicating weeds, harvesting watermelons, gathering layers of data and more! As a Platinum Sponsor, The Climate Corporation leadership has passionately worked together with agBOT Challenge producers to evolve the competition, support the teams and challenge the incoming talent.

“Advancing agricultural technology has never been more important. Farmers today are facing labor challenges and other headwinds in a tough market environment, at the same time we’re asking them to double production over the next 30 years to feed a table of 10 billion people,” said Mark Young, Chief
Technology Officer at The Climate Corporation
. “Climate’s mission is to help all the world’s farmers sustainably increase productivity using digital tools. The spirit of this competition is directly aligned with that mission, which is why we’ve been a sponsor over the last three years.”

On May 17th from 10am – 4pm, Gerrish Farms will open its grounds to the public, hosting hundreds of youth, educators, university alumni and agtech supporters at NextGen Expo. Bruce Kettler, Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture will open the day. Attendees can explore agBOT team workstations, compete in a Watermelon Harvest Simulation Competition using Vex Robotics and engage in interactive exhibits with lessons in aquatic ecology, botany, robotics, software, drones, farm management and rural broadband solutions. Attendance to the event is free with pre-registration at

On May 18th and 19th teams will provide in field demonstrations of their machines and solutions to a panel of judges. Craig Rupp, Climate’s Senior Director of Advanced Technologies and one of the key engineers who developed the Climate FieldView™ Drive data capture device, will serve as a judge for the third consecutive year.

“I’ve had the privilege to work on some pretty cool things and the opportunity to visit with a lot of farmers during my time in agriculture,” said Rupp. “Every year I’m blown away by the diversity of both the competitors and the people who come out to see the technology – young, old, aggies, techies, people from the neighboring farm to people coming from halfway around the world. I can’t help but feel optimistic about where this industry is heading.”

Steve Gerrish, Founder of the agBOT Challenge, CEO of airBridge and Owner of Gerrish Farms say as he is encouraged by the growing interest of their efforts to increase awareness of innovation in agriculture. “We encourage everyone to use new problem solving methods to address issues on the farm. By identifying an opportunity for improvement and applying a Scrum Team or Scaled Agile Framework to develop artificial intelligence and machine learning for farm solutions we are creating sustainable husbandry practices for the future of farmers, ” says Steve.

Visitors are welcome to any and all days of the agBOT Challenge 2018 which will be held at Gerrish Farms in Rockville, Indiana from May 17th – May 19th. NextGen Expo May 17th 10am-4pm | 2018 Weed & Feed May 18th | 2018 Harvest Competition May 19th.

To learn more, please visit the website and contact Rachel Gerrish, Senior Executive Producer,

About agBOT Challenge

The agBOT Challenge is a series of competitions set to propel innovation in technology and agriculture. With the assistance of sponsors, airBridge and Gerrish farms have created a series of competitions in which individuals, teams, universities, entrepreneurs, farmers etc. are challenged to build autonomous vehicles capable of performing agricultural tasks in the fields. At the annual event, each team of innovators has the opportunity to present their accomplishments to a crowd of supporters, influential leaders, and panel of judges in an effort to win the agBOT Challenge Champion title. For more information visit To learn more, follow the teams and event @AgBotChallenge.

About The Climate Corporation

The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Company, aims to help all the world's farmers sustainably increase their productivity through the use of digital tools. The integrated Climate FieldView™ digital agriculture platform provides farmers with a comprehensive, connected suite of digital tools. Bringing together seamless field data collection, advanced agronomic modeling and local weather monitoring into simple mobile and web software solutions, the Climate FieldView™ platform gives farmers a deeper understanding of their fields so they can make more informed operating decisions to optimize yields, maximize efficiency and reduce risk. For more information, please visit or follow the company on Twitter @climatecorp.

About Gerrish Farms

Proud co-host of the agBOT Challenge, Gerrish Farms is the alpha site for airBridge’s rural broadband system providing high speed internet for agricultural software and robotics. Gerrish Farms, located in Rockville, Indiana, was started in 1904 and became certified as a Hoosier Centennial Farm in 2012. The goal of Gerrish Farms is to maintain a sustainable business model to preserve a generational asset in an environmentally responsible manner. The current operating farm size is over six hundred acres, over four hundred acres dedicated to crop production of corn and soybeans, two aquaculture ponds and a 16-acre lake.

Gerrish Farms currently hosts multiple research projects in robotics, software, rural broadband, genomic assay projects, freshwater systems and soil management.

Graduate Student News - May 2018

Boy, do we have a lot of news for you this month!

The College of Engineering Awards Ceremony was held on April 24 and our graduate students were representing us well!

l to r: Jinsha Li, Soo Ha, Department Head Bernie Engel, Gabe Wilfong, Samaneh Saadat

Samaneh Saadat received the College of Engineering Outstanding Graduate Student Research Scholarship

Jinsha Li received the 2018 College of Engineering Outstanding Graduate Student Service Award

Soo Jung  Ha and Gabe Wilfong each received the College of Engineering Outstanding Teaching Magoon Award

Other grad student awards:

Malithi Wickramathilaka was nominated by the College of Agriculture for the Graduate School Excellence in Teaching Award

Stuart Smith received the Teaching Academy Graduate Teaching Award

ABE Outstanding Master's Student is Marisol Pantoja Otero

ABE Outstanding PhD Student is Sushant Mehan

Billsland Dissertation Fellowships - Naagarajan Narayanan, Emma Brace, and Sanoar Rahman

Incoming Student Fellowships: Danielle Winter, Doctoral Fellowship; Nate Brown and Tae Sup Lee, Ross Fellowships; and Jennifer Stevens, Andrews Fellowship

ABE GSA Board 2017-18 smoothly finished their term on April 11, 2018, and new officers were elected during the election that evening. The former board was successful in bringing many new activities to bridge the gap between undergraduates, graduate,s and visiting scholars. The seminar on reducing the indifferences in research groups, cookouts, movie night, and presentations from deans and senior administration are just a few of the events held in the ABE Building. The new board is in full swing and filled with enthusiasm to serve the graduate community in ABE. The old and new roster can be seen below (outgoing officers in parenthesis):

President - Sarah Daly (Sushant Mehan)
Vice President - Diana Ramirez (Lawrence Sekaluvu)
Secretary - Grace Baldwin (Logan Readnour)
Treasurer - Isis Chagas (Mohamed Aboelnour)
PGSG Senator - Valeria Mijares (Ahmed Hashem)
Professional Development Chairs - Alyssa Christoffer, Jeff Fiechter (Sarah Daly, Josept Revuelta)
Social Chairs - Jonathan Mills, Aaron Etienne (Johann Vera, Marisol, Mayo)
Recruitment Chairs - Gabe Wilfong, Jonathan Overton (Gabe Wilfong, Amanda Locker)


April 14, 2018: ABE Graduate Student Association 2017-18 planned the Spring Fest activities to showcase various activities for the people in the community. The activities included the robotic arm, popcorn, a coloring activity, and balloon activity (which was the favorite).The long queue lasted all day and there was still a line at closing time.  Jonathan Mills with his creativity stole the show when he artistically drew sketches on balloons. Wishing you all a happy Spring.



Gabriella Mendes Candido de Oliveira, Gnana Prasuna Denam, and Margaret L. Hegwood wrote the Program of the Month article for the IFT Food Engineering Division newsletter published on April 27. Thank you for portraying us so positively!

May 2018 Maha Fluid Power Laboratory News

Dr. Vacca Promoted to Full Professor
The Maha Fluid Power Research Center is honored to announce that Dr. Andrea Vacca has been promoted from associate professor to full professor of agricultural and biological engineering. Dr. Vacca’s contributions to fluid power education at Purdue not only encompass teaching courses on hydraulic vehicle design and hydraulic control systems ― at Maha he heads a team of nearly 20 graduate researchers, guiding them on topics as diverse as the development of a fluid-structure interaction model for the tribological interfaces of external gear machines, gerotor design optimization, and traction control system research. Beyond this, Dr. Vacca has also taken the time to supervise a group of students looking to design a chainless bicycle that transmits power hydraulically for the National Fluid Power Association Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge ― they were awarded first place in the competition last April (2017).

On behalf of the entire Maha team, thank you Dr. Vacca for your dedication to Purdue students and all of the exciting opportunities and projects that you create and lead, and congratulations on your new position as full professor!

2018 Redbud Report

For 28 years, Dr. Richard Stroshine has tracked the bloom dates of our beloved redbud trees. For many years, we had trees at the East end of the building, but those were cut down several years ago. Before we lost those, however, some were planted at the West end of the building and Dr. Stroshine carefully "calibrated" the timing so as to be able to continue his faithful reporting. The "western" trees bloomed a day or two earlier than their "eastern" counterparts.  "So I think this year was a tie with the latest bloom on record for the 28 years I have been keeping records," according to Stroshine's diligent record-keeping. The only years in which the tree bloomed later than May 1 were 1996 (May 2), 1997 (May 3 - tied this year), and 2011 when the bloom did not complete until May 6.

For 2018, the tree furthest West bloomed on May 1 and the tree furthest East bloomed on May 3. If you would like to look back at the history, you can download that information.

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