UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls

Career Opportunities

Career opportunities in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are on the rise. More people are consuming more food and agricultural products, resulting in a greater need for trained professionals to design environmentally sound production systems. This means more jobs in service, sales, development and application of mechanical systems in agriculture and in protection and management of water, soil and air resources. Starting salaries for AET graduates are among the highest at UWRF, between $40,000-$55,000.

Our graduates are employed across a wide spectrum of the engineering profession - as test engineers and technical support for large equipment manufacturers; as plant managers, process engineers and project managers within the food and feed, and construction industries; and as consultants on waste management and erosion control issues.

Ag Engineering Technology Alumni Spotlight

Dustin (2012)

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Dustin Emslander

Graduation Year: 2012
Major/Minor: Agricultural Engineering Technology
Position Title: Designer
Employer: Oxbo Corporation

After graduating from the UW-River Falls in May 2012, I was offered an internship at Oxbo Corporation as a service technician. Oxbo Corporation, located in Clear Lake, WI, is a worldwide leader in custom harvesting equipment. We design and manufacture specialty niche market machinery. Some of our products include sweet corn and pea harvesters, grape and other fruit harvesters, and forage handling equipment. After several months of my internship I was given the opportunity to work with the Research and Development Department. This temporary placement turned into 3 months of following new corn heads throughout the Midwestern states. My main focus was supporting the prototype heads that were being used by several different farming operations at any given time. I was in charge of writing incident reports and suggesting necessary changes to the heads. After the fall harvest season was over I was offered a full-time position as a designer in Oxbo’s Engineering Department. My main responsibilities include supporting the assembly department in any issues with our equipment, designing parts for new and already produced machines, and supporting the engineering department in maintaining our numerous product lines.

The skills that I learned while at UW-River Falls helped me tremendously throughout my internship and now my full-time career. I believe that I moved up through the company relatively quickly not only because of my determination, but also due to the skills and techniques I was taught at UW-River Falls. This major prepares all of its students for success in the agricultural field. If you like agriculture and working with your hands, this is definitely the major for you.

Kelsey (2012)

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Kelsey Peterson

Graduation Year: 2012
Major/Minor: Agricultural Engineering Technology, Spanish minor
Position Title: Assistant Manager
Employer: ADM Alliance Nutrition Plant

Being a part of Ag Engineering Technology has opened my eyes to the many opportunities agriculture has to offer. The summer between my junior and senior year I completed an internship with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) as a Grain Terminal Operations Management Intern. I was placed at a shuttle loader rail facility in Mendota, Illinois for the summer. After the internship was completed I was offered a full-time position in the same field in the year and a half Management Trainee  Program. I loved my internship and this job offer has given me the opportunity to learn more about the company and management role.

In the training program, my day-to-day responsibilities included managing the operations personnel, updating and fixing equipment, safety training, commodity inventory, efficiently blending grain on rail to meet the buyers needs, and overseeing contractor work. After 10 months in what was supposed to be a year and a half trainee program, they offered me a position as Assistant Manager of an ADM Alliance Nutrition Plan in New Hampton, Iowa. It is going to be a slight change of path but I'm really excited about it. it will be more on the feed end of the spectrum instead of the grain end where I'm working now. They deal with feed for anything from dairy, beef, horses, pigs, sheep, and goats to rabbits and chickens. Growing up with most of these animals on our farm I'm excited for this opportunity to broaden my knowledge base on how the feed is manufactured. My day-to-day responsibilities with be the same for the most part with just a different twist to them. I think it's a good step in the direction I want to head with the company.

When I began the Agricultural Engineering Technology program I never dreamed this would be my career. UW- River Falls and this program have prepared me well for my career in the rapidly changing world of agriculture!

Christine (2010)

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Christine Kuhr

Graduation Year: 2010
Major/Minor: Agricultural Engineering Technology, Chemistry minor
Position Title: Quality Assurance Supervisor
Employer: Del Monte Foods

In May of 2010 I was hired on as a quality assurance management trainee and less than a year later I was promoted to Quality Assurance Supervisor. I am currently the department lead at the plant. This plant is a seasonal operation working with peas, beans & corn from June-October. During the pack season, I am responsible for all things dealing with quality and food safety in the plant. I perform audits to ensure good manufacturing practices are maintained throughout the season. The finished product goes through quality grading to ensure that what we are selling is in fact, Del Monte Quality. There are training programs that must be completed through the FDA & international auditing bodies to become certified to do certain parts of my job. 

I am responsible for all the major plant programs: HACCP, Food Security, Record Review, Recalls, Consumer Affairs, Hold Administration and regulatory inspections. I focus mainly on releasing records, held product and passing regulatory and third party audits. About 50% of my time is spent at my desk and 50% of my time is spent in the plant.

In the off season, I work on documentation for programs as well as participating in training sessions for the continuously changing food processing world. This part of the year is used to evaluate the product that was produced and what needs to be changed or improved to ensure there is continuous improvement throughout the plant. LEAN meetings are held to ensure processes are as efficient as they can be with the resources available. During the off season, approximately 90% of my time is spent at my desk and 10% is spent in the plant. My time spent in labs and getting hands-on experience in the Agricultural Engineering Technology program have been an asset to me in this position. The broad-based approach to learning all the areas of the engineering department has helped me be a resource in many critical areas of the plant.

Ty (2010)

Ty Meerkins
Ty Meerkins

Graduation Year: 2010
Major/Minor: Agricultural Engineering Technology
Position Title: Field Service Engineer
Employer: Procomac Division of GEA Process Engineering

Shortly after graduation I began work at the Procomac Division of GEA Process Engineering. GEA is an international leader in the food, fuel, and pharmaceutical industries. Although GEA is located in Hudson, WI, Procomac is based in Parma (Italy) and is a leader in cold, hot, and aseptic bottle sterilizing, rinsing and filling machinery.  Many bottled drinks sold in the U.S. are produced by Procomac food processing machinery. 

As a Field Service Engineer for GEA Procomac, I travel around the world to install, troubleshoot and implement new or existing drink bottling machines at customer plants. My daily activities are very diverse; depending on what stage of the project we are on. I interpret drawings, determine the placement and rigging of the machines, collaborate with sub-contractors to determine the requirements and placement of the infrastructure for the systems (piping, electricity or structural), and work on PLC programming and automation of the system. This job suits me well as I may be acting as a project manager one day, calculating electrical capacities the next, and sampling a bottle of freshly packaged fruit juice the next. I have even been known to do a little TIG welding on a new part!  

The UWRF Agricultural Engineering Technology (AET) program opened a new career path I never thought would be in my future, and I couldn't be happier. The AET program was the perfect place for me as it allowed great flexibility to my schedule and interests. My favorite part about the program was the ability to tailor the material to my own interests. 

The AET program is not dominated by classroom lectures and bookwork. Much of your time will be spent in the laboratory, on the lab farm, operating machinery, or taking field trips to locations such as Eaton Fluid Power Systems. Looking back, I can say that many skills learned in my AET classes are now used everyday in my career at GEA Procomac. To anyone who wants to earn a great salary, travel the world, solve problems, use engineering concepts or just get your hands dirty, field service engineering is for you.

Educational and employment opportunities are plentiful for students interested in:

  • Production Agriculture
  • Agricultural Machinery
  • Precision Agriculture
  • Construction and Project Management
  • Food Processing
  • Alternative Energy and Fuels
  • Irrigation and Drainage
  • Environmental Engineering Technology