The Purdue University Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering is consistently ranked among the top in the nation.
Our innovative research focuses on the application of engineering principles to develop new technologies for more sustainable food production and processing, novel bio-based products, and better environmental stewardship. Digital technology is changing how food, energy, water and health are being managed and maintained. ABE is a significant partner bridging agriculture and engineering to design the next improvements in data analysis, automation, and decision-support tools for agriculture.
Graduate education is the foundation of our quest to extend knowledge frontiers. Excellent facilities and internationally-known faculty support approximately 120 graduate students per year in the areas of:
Agricultural Systems, Safety, and Health
Agriculture has one of the highest fatal injury rates of any U.S. industry sector, and agricultural systems face a variety of risks. Our research improves agricultural safety and health by addressing agricultural injury prevention, emergency preparedness, homeland security, and rehabilitation services to farmers impacted by disability. Specific programs include AgrAbility (a national program to assist farmers with disabilities), IN-PREPared (rural disaster mitigation, response, and recovery), and Gearing Up for Safety (national program for young and beginning workers in agriculture). Through research-based programs we assist rural residents in making their homes, workplaces and communities safer and healthier places to live and work. Graduates are employed in Education, Government, Insurance and Industry.
Agricultural Systems Management
Agricultural Systems Management (ASM) merges knowledge of design with management principles adapting to real-world environmental conditions to create and implement novel and practical solutions for off-road vehicle applications, crop production, material storage and transfer. This is a technology and applications focused area where an engineering undergraduate degree is not necessary. ASM Graduate Students utilize their in-depth technical skills to solve problems by applying advancements in equipment, structures, controlled environments, and production systems with business management skills necessary for graduates to successfully lead in their future careers, including: Agricultural and Power Equipment Manufacturing, Product Testing, Sales, Precision Agriculture, Government, and Education.
Biological systems are at the heart of solutions to problems related to the environment, energy, health, food, and sustainability. Biological engineering graduate students use tools, either through computation and modeling or instrumentation and biological and biochemical methods, to create and manipulate cells and cellular materials for a variety of applications relating to human, plant, and animal systems. This emerging field is expected to rapidly advance and open opportunities in biomanufacturing, biosensors, microbiome, biomaterials, human therapeutics, tissue and organ regeneration, computational genomics, high-throughput sequencing algorithms, bioenergy and biofuel production, bioremediation, and biodefense.
Data Science & Digital Agriculture
The digital revolution empowers food system stakeholders to improve the resilience, sustainability, and profitability of food and agricultural systems. Agricultural data science leverages novel algorithms, biophysical and machine learning models, and other digital tools to improve supply chain transparency, optimize resource use, and address systemic bottlenecks in food and agricultural systems. These heterogeneous data come from low-cost sensors, IoT devices, unmanned aerial systems or satellites, field-going machinery, and public economic, environmental and social datasets. Through hardware and software engineering including cloud and edge-computing, we develop autonomous robots and decision tools, while working on usability, interoperability, connectivity, and other wicked technological challenges in agriculture.
Environmental and Natural Resources
Sustainability and resilience of natural resources depends on the integration of laboratory and field experimentation, data analytics, and modeling in novel ways. In Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering we develop sustainable solutions to environmental problems at local and global levels. We create and evaluate new soil and water conservation systems, analyze drivers of ecosystem processes that reduce pollution, quantify the effects of climate and land use change, and advance waste management and utilization for renewable energy generation. Research opportunities include air quality, water resources engineering, in-situ and remote sensing systems, animal environments and welfare, and sustainable food production systems.
Food, Pharmaceutical, and Biological Process Engineering
Biological manufacturing methods and feedstocks with low carbon footprints can create sustainable solutions that address challenges of food security, food safety, and health while adding value to agriculture. Our research addresses the engineering fundamentals for sustainable manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, foods, and bioproducts derived from agricultural and cellulosic renewable resources. We strive to educate our students to be the best – and do their best – in the design, analysis, prediction, modeling, control and optimization of processes that capitalize on the unique biophysical behavior of biological molecules, as well as the products from which they are derived. Our goal is to develop platforms that enable unique products to be manufactured in new ways.
Machine Systems Engineering
In Machine Systems Engineering we develop innovative and increasingly automated machines for agricultural, construction, mining, forestry, and transportation systems by integrating data, robotics, fluid power, and systems thinking to optimize water, energy, food, and environment interactions. Research teams are creating new technologies to solve problems related to production efficiencies, energy usage, human-machine interfaces, environmental impacts of road machinery, and food production. Agricultural engineers merge knowledge of engineering design with real-world environmental conditions to create novel and practical solutions for off-road vehicle applications, crop production, storage, and transfer.
Additional focus areas for graduate students include Biological Engineering and Technology, BioNanotechnology, Ecological Sciences and Engineering, Fluid Power, Machine Systems, and Agrosecurity.