Fall 2018 Newsletter

Bulletins from Biological Systems Engineering


Troy Runge headshot

Welcome to the Biological Systems Engineering Fall 2018 Newsletter from Madison, WI. The leaves have turned color, students have exchanged their t-shirts for fleeces, and the weather has become decidedly cooler. Along with these seasonal changes, our department has been undergoing some changes as well.
One area of change I am excited to share has been in the area of recruitment for several new faculty and staff. Jessica Drewry started in August 2018 as a new faculty associate. She is both teaching several classes to help with instructional needs from our burgeoning student population and is also working with Brian Luck in precision agriculture research. We have also hired Zhou Zhang in our Machinery Systems area. With her expertise in sensors and machine learning, we are excited for her start date of March 1, 2019. Finally, we are also currently searching for another Machinery Systems faculty which we hope to have start in August 2019. We are excited with the new ideas these individuals will bring to our department, and the support to allow us to continue to grow our program’s student population, propel research, and train the next generation of engineers.
Another area of change we have embraced is within the college structure. CALS has undergone an organization redesign for departments with some programs possibly merging. The BSE program, which has been growing substantially will remain as-is, but we are seeking to form stronger collaborations with both the Soil Science and Food Science departments, looking for even more opportunities to share resources on campus and work together on new research and programs.  Our student numbers have also been changing. We completed our last academic year with a record number of degrees granted and have a population of 234 undergraduate and 31 graduate students in our program. Students are enjoying the
strong job market and finding employment in a wide variety of industries beyond traditional agriculture and environmental firms.
A final area of change worth noting is in our facilities. Although we are still in the same building, we have continued to improve our teaching spaces with continued investment
into our shop, making it not only a great asset for research, but also a place for students to participate in active learning whether it be for design classes or part of open shop times to
become confident in using the shop equipment. Many of these improvements have been made possible through your kind donations to our BSE Facilities fund. We have plans for further improvements particularly in creating Student Design Spaces in both of our buildings and need your support to make them a reality. This will allow us to continue to serve our growing student population and modernize for tomorrow’s engineering challenges. Please consider a donation to the BSE Facilities fund to make this happen (info on back page).

Featured Articles

  • Updates from ASABE and Quarter Scale Tractor Team
  • Farm Safety and Health Week
  • Drones and Wisconsin agriculture
  • Advancing agricultural and public health
  • The career of BSE’s David Bohnhoff

Read the full newsletter

Cheryl Skjolaas talks about tractor safety from the seat of a tractor


A huge thank-you to all the donors who have supported the department this year.