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Natural Resources Engineering Its Time Has Come

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.398.1 - 4.398.13

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Ernest Tollner

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1608

Natural Resources Engineering – Its time has come

Ernest W. Tollner Professor, Biol. & Agr. Engineering Dept. University of Georgia Athens, GA 30602

1. Abstract

The reduction in numbers of students with farm background, the increase of female participation, the increase in students computer literacy and intellectual capacity along with the increasing rigor required in supporting courses of chemistry and biology requires that we reevaluate our approach to teaching soil and water conservation. Taking the typical soil and water conservation topic outline to a more theoretically rigorous level, inclusion of problems and labs relating to problems at the rural-urban fringe, including some additional topics relevant to the rural-urban fringe and moving from an implied farm scale to a more explicit problem scale that lies between the bench and the region is the essence of the transformation from “Soil and Water” to “Natural Resources Engineering” advocated herein. A more rigorous approach and viewing problems from a perspective of scale instead of production agriculture is a valid foundation for an engineering discipline which will command respect and be genuinely relevant for years to come.

2. Introduction

With the demographic change in the “Agricultural engineering” student population that has occurred, the traditional “Soil and Water engineering” area should be replaced with “Natural Resources engineering”. This change of demographics requires that we re-evaluate how we as instructors relate to students that are not from the farm. Further, we must evaluate how we prepare students for employment in future job opportunities.

An underlying assumption in this presentation is that unique expertise of the classical agricultural engineer can and should be applicable to problems common at the rural-urban interface. This demands that air as a resource needs to be considered along with soil and water. Further, one should broaden the classical view of soil and water area to be more inviting to students from a non-farm background.

The goals of this paper are to present a definition of “Natural Resources Engineering,” justify from a Georgia demographic perspective why the paradigm is relevant, and suggest how one may move toward adoption of the paradigm.

3. Selected Demographics and Trends

Demographic data in Georgia are presented to exemplify shifts that have been occurring not only in Georgia but in many places across our nation. The past decade has witnessed the continuation of several ongoing demographic shifts in Georgia and around the nation. The population in

Tollner, E. (1999, June), Natural Resources Engineering Its Time Has Come Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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