‘Vision of excellence’ realized

By Erin Lindsay

In the recent release of the 2007 edition of America’s Best Colleges from U.S. News and World Report, the University’s Department of Agricultural Engineering ranked number one, followed by Texas A&M; and the University of California, Davis.

K.C. Ting, department head for the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering said the ranking was hard-earned.

“This University has a good vision of excellence,” Ting said. “We don’t necessarily strive for ranking, but we do everything with quality.”

Robert Morris, director of data research for U.S. News and World Report, explained the ranking process as being very involved among all universities.

U.S. News ranks undergraduate programs approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, a U.S. provider of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and technology.

The rankings are based on a survey from deans and other distinguished faculty from participating colleges who rate each program they are familiar with on a scale from 1 (marginal) to 5 (distinguished).

After sending a brief survey to deans of engineering at most universities, Morris said this University’s Department of Agricultural Engineering received the most votes and recommendations based on the ratings of the top academic experts in the country.

“We asked the department heads to take into account the school’s curriculum, the quality of faculty and the graduation rate,” Morris said.

Ting said, in a press release, that setting goals has kept the department of agricultural and biological engineering working endlessly.

“In the last year and a half, (the department) developed a strategic plan that stated as its vision: ‘We will be the best agricultural and biological engineering department in teaching, research and outreach,'” Ting said in the release.

Ting said that these goals were reached because of faculty support.

While the field of agricultural and biological engineering may seem job specific, Ting said the possibilities for students in the program are endless.

He said students could end up working at machinery companies, food and biological processing plants or even for governmental agencies.

Ting said that like any university department, the college looks to the aid of its teachers as tools for success.

“Our interest in student success is high,” Ting said. “We always pay the highest attention to teachers and students. We work outside the classroom because we want to be partners in our students’ success.”

Although published rankings are a perk of success, the College of Engineering is regularly listed among the top engineering programs in the United States and worldwide. Within the department exist five subdivisions, or activities, as Ting calls them, which come together in their own ways to form the number one agricultural engineering school in the country.