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We Have A Good Start, But There's A Lot More To Do

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.492.1 - 2.492.4



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Arthur T. Johnson

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

Session 2308

We Have a Good Start, But There's a Lot More to Do

Arthur T. Johnson Biological Resources Engineering University of Maryland College Park, MD 20742

[Note: At this point all academic biological engineering programs have been derived from former agricultural engineering programs. As the field of biological engineering evolves, it is reasonable to expect that new programs will have different origins. This paper is directed to those who presently are associated with academic programs with agricultural engineering roots.]

It's probably fair to say that we have had some success at reforming ourselves from the agricultural engineering tied to one specific, but important, industry to the biological engineering that is based on a science instead of on an industry. In order to make the change thus far, we have had to contemplate what things we did previously that had prepared us for the reformation, and how biological engineering would be a natural extension of historical trends within agricultural engineering. Some people have embraced the change easily; others still don't see the relevance of biological engineering to their careers. The result is a lot of repetition of the definition of biological engineering at the expense of strategic perspective. It is time to assess our positions regarding what has been accomplished and where future efforts might need to be applied.

Here are some of our accomplishments:

1. A significant minority of faculty have accepted biological engineering as their discipline. My assessment is that this group may have reached majority in some places, but that the largest group of faculty are those who have accepted the change to biological engineering as an experiment without final results as yet. They remain somewhat skeptical, certainly unenthusiastic, and have yet to accept where they will fit into the new discipline. The committed biological engineers, however, are very vocal, energetic, and enthusiastic, and their numbers are growing.

2. Many departments have changed names and curriculums. A glance at the most recent ASAE Yearbook shows that 33 of 66 departments have some variant of biological engineering in their titles. Somewhat belatedly, a good number of these departments have begun to reform their curriculums to be more honest representations of their names.

3. Enrollments have increased. The increase in undergraduate student enrollments has been dramatic in some cases and less so in other cases (+100% to +1000% in several years), but the increases have been treated as good news by all departments, especially those that saw themselves as vulnerable to discontinuance. Curiously, those departments that maintain agricultural engineering along with biological engineering undergraduate programs have seen increases in both

Johnson, A. T. (1997, June), We Have A Good Start, But There's A Lot More To Do Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6897

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