Defining A New Engineering Course And Emphasis Area For The 21st Century Natural Resources Engineering
2001 Annual Conference Proceedings
The goal of this paper is to evaluate the transition of the soil and water conservation agricultural engineer to the natural resource engineer considering questions of changing society, current student demographics, institutional priorities, current instructors and field of knowledge. Natural resources engineering is defined as the design of planned activities complimentary to or opposing natural or societal forces leading to modifications of the soil, water, biota and/or air environment. The
... environment. The problem space is on the farm, field or small watershed scale as opposed to the regional or large watershed scale. The purpose is resource development and/or environmental management. Thus, we in effect broaden the definition of natural resources from the usual oil/gas mining extraction activity to the more general crop production and urban development activities. Ancillary site development activities associated with bioremediation, bioconversion and resource extraction are included by the more general definition. Links with the traditional civil/environmental engineer will be presented which highlight the differences and commonalities in the disciplines. The agricultural engineering curriculum was developed in an era of extensive rural development of an agricultural based economy. There were courses on soil and water engineering, rural electrification, power and processing, agricultural structures and machine design. Agricultural engineers traditionally study all the common engineering science courses with colleagues in other disciplines, then focus on discipline specific coursework that extends engineering science and emphasizes design. The focus of this paper is the soil and water course and how it is being transformed into an emphasis area or curriculum for contemporary relevance. The traditional agricultural engineering student was male, white and from a farm background. He studied engineering hydrology including runoff, soil erosion and its control, introduction to channel design including vegetated waterways, irrigation and drainage. Though these were important in the development of agriculture in the 20 th century, changes in societal needs, entering students, institutional priorities, the background of instructors and the field of knowledge 1 itself necessitates a comprehensive revision. Societal Needs Ernest Tollner has been employed by the University of Georgia for 20 years in research and teaching. He received his BSAE and MSAE degrees at the University of Kentucky, where he developed a description of flow hydraulics through grass filter strips that is contained within the SEDCAD © hydrological analyses program. He obtained his doctorate at Auburn University, where he research the use of organic byproducts for sealing waste lagoons. Research at the University of Georgia has focused on the measurement of soil properties using nondestructive testing methods. He is currently the graduate coordinator and teaches the soil and water conservation related courses.