Read handout titled "Introduction to Agricultural Systems Engineering."

Become familiar with ABE UNIX workstations.

Important Terms and Concepts:

Agricultural systems engineering - the design, development, analysis and management of people, machines, structures, animals, plants and other resources used to produce and process food, clothing, fiber, lumber, and biomaterials for chemicals.

Systems enginnering - Building upon foundations in mathematics, statistics, operations research, and economics, Systems Engineering involves the design, control and management of complex systems arising in manufacturing, transportation, telecommunications, the environment, and other areas. By considering the system as a whole, rather than individual components of the system, Systems Engineers provide direction as to the optimal design of the system as well as their on-going operation and maintenance. Systems engineers learn to model, simulate, optimize, integrate, and evaluate systems. Additional discussion of systems engineering.

System - collection of objects that have a common purpose. A system is typically formed from many, often diverse components.

Operations research (OR) - (1) branch of systems analysis that considers the processes or operations of a system and attempts to optimize some element; (2) the application of scientific method by interdisciplinary teams to problems involving the control of systems so as to provide solutions which best serve the purposes of the organization as a whole.

Systems analysis - (1) systematic methodology for defining problems and evaluating solutions; (2) formalized procedure to quantify and evaluate the interactions of components (subsystems) of two or more systems

Systems analysis uses mathematics to determine how a set of interconnected components behave in response to a given set of inputs. It is a goal-oriented discipline, so it is imperative that a clearly stated project objective be established. The information obtained through a systems analysis is eventually used for decision making purposes in most cases.

Problems best suited for systems analysis can generally be broadly classified as those of:

  1. resource allocation
  2. capital investment
  3. probability
  4. statistics

Goal of systems analysis - decision making (e.g., minimum cost vs investment)

Methodology of Systems Analysis

  1. identification of objectives

  2. quantification of objectives

  3. development of a system model

  4. evaluation of alternatives

  5. detailed design and development

In this course, much of the focus will be on step 3, slightly less on step 4 and much less on steps 1, 2, and 5. In many of your undergraduate level courses, the emphasis was on step 5. As a portion of your term project however, you will get an opportunity to utilize steps 1 through 4.