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Agricultural Engineering Overview - Preparation - Day In The Life - Earnings - Employment - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations

Day in the Life
Agricultural Engineers combine engineering principles with biological and agricultural sciences. They work to develop equipment, systems, and processes that help improve how the world's food supply is produced and distributed. They are involved in problem solving, and must have the ability to analyze a current system with an eye toward improving the current process.  They often have to look beyond a specific challenge, such as a machine, or storage solution, and consider a larger system, and how improvements or changes would affect the whole.

Job Duties
Agricultural engineers often work in teams, and their duties involve analysis of current methods and equipment applied to the production, packing, and delivery of food products.  They might work in a group with other engineers, or those outside of engineering, to solve problems related to systems, processes, and machines.  They may be involved in designing a water irrigation system, or in determining alternative uses for agricultural byproducts. They may participate in legal or financial consulting regarding agricultural processes, equipment, or issues. 

Some agricultural engineers focus on machinery, and may design equipment used in agriculture and construction.  These engineers might have a special interest in crop handling, hydraulic power, or the growth of specific crops.  They may be employed by machine manufacturing firms.  Other agricultural engineers may find themselves designing buildings or other structures used for livestock, storage of grains, or experimental growing facilities.  Still other agricultural engineers might focus on developing systems for food processing, such as drying processes, distillation, or long term storage.

The Workplace
The type of job agricultural engineers have often determines whether they work inside or outside.  However, most work inside a majority of the time.  Some agricultural engineers whose tasks require visits to farms, animal operations, or seed manufacturers may find that they travel frequently.  Many agricultural engineers find that working directly with growers, for example, provides immediate job satisfaction as it allows them to interact with people their work affects.

Teams and Coworkers
Almost all jobs in engineering require some sort of interaction with coworkers. Whether they are working in a team situation, or just asking for advice, most engineers have to have the ability to communicate and work with other people. Engineers should be creative, inquisitive, analytical, and detail-oriented. They should be able to work as part of a team and to communicate well, both orally and in writing. Communication abilities are important because engineers often interact with specialists in a wide range of fields outside engineering.

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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