Agricultural Engineers

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Also known as:
Agricultural Engineer, Agricultural Production Engineer, Agricultural Research Engineer, Farm Equipment Engineer, Research Agricultural Engineer

Video transcript

Developing a flood control system for a community threatened by a river, designing a farm of the future for a major corporation, supervising production of new strains of plants - these are just some of the varied jobs an agricultural engineer might do. This is a lifetime career, for which you must train at an engineering school or college department.

If you decide to go into research and development, you might go on for a master's degree or Ph.D. An aptitude for science and technology, along with good oral and written communication skills, the ability to identify, analyze, and solve problems is essential.

You could end up working indoors or outdoors: in a forest, laboratory, or design office; or on a farm or research station. Though your work focuses on growing and living things, your emphasis will be on the design, manufacturing, and construction of machinery and equipment, structures and facilities that improve crop and livestock production, improve food processing techniques, or solve problems related to the use and conservation of soil, water, and forest resources.

You will also need to be comfortable with computers. The work you do could have a major impact on society. Agricultural engineers examine the impact of all aspects of plant and food production. From out national parks to specialized greenhouses.

In fact, agricultural engineers can make headlines with breakthroughs on production techniques, such as genetic engineering and cloning. As the world population grows, the need for the work of agricultural engineers will be ever greater.

Apply knowledge of engineering technology and biological science to agricultural problems concerned with power and machinery, electrification, structures, soil and water conservation, and processing of agricultural products.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Design agricultural machinery components and equipment, using computer-aided design (CAD) technology.

Design structures for crop storage, animal shelter and loading, and animal and crop processing, and supervise their construction.

Test agricultural machinery and equipment to ensure adequate performance.

Design sensing, measuring, and recording devices, and other instrumentation used to study plant or animal life.

Conduct educational programs that provide farmers or farm cooperative members with information that can help them improve agricultural productivity.

Design and supervise environmental and land reclamation projects in agriculture and related industries.

Visit sites to observe environmental problems, to consult with contractors, or to monitor construction activities.

Plan and direct construction of rural electric-power distribution systems, and irrigation, drainage, and flood control systems for soil and water conservation.

Provide advice on water quality and issues related to pollution management, river control, and ground and surface water resources.

Prepare reports, sketches, working drawings, specifications, proposals, and budgets for proposed sites or systems.

Discuss plans with clients, contractors, consultants, and other engineers so that they can be evaluated and necessary changes made.

Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Communicating with Persons Outside Organization Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Design Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Physics Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Food Production Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Systems Analysis Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.