Monday, August 10, 2015

Big Science in The Big Easy at ASABE's Annual International Meeting

From July 25-29, a large group of Gator students, faculty, and staff assembled in New Orleans, LA. Curiously, none were en route to Baton Rouge, and Bourbon Street was void of “BEAT LSU” shirts and “Geaux Gators” chants. So, what else might motivate such a Gator migration? The Annual International Meeting of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), of course! This conference draws Agricultural and Biological Engineers from all over the world. Never heard of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE)? Check out the IrriGator blog post about last year’s meeting for more information on this interesting field.

Spotlight on Water
This year’s meeting included several water-focused presentations and discussions, including a special session on ecohydrology. Ecohydrology is defined as the study of water’s control on plant and animal life (ecology + hydrology = ecohydrology). Sound familiar, IrriGators? The ecohydrology session featured Dr. Andrea Rinaldo, internationally-recognized Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources at EPFL (Switzerland), as a guest speaker.

Several UF students and professors shared research results and exchanged ideas with engineers and scientists from other organizations. The breadth of the talks made for an engaging and exciting conference! In addition to water, presentations focused on a wide range of topics including bioenergy, global engagement, and more.

Focus on Graduate Students
A recent ASABE initiative to increase the number of activities focused on graduate students led to the creation of several new events, including a Graduate Student Social, Career Panel, and Faculty & Department Chair Meet-and-Greet. As a graduate student myself, these experiences made the conference all the more enriching. Friends and memories were made, and wisdom was gained.   

UF Brings Home the Hardware!
Several UF students and faculty received national recognition for their talents in teaching, research, and fountain building! Yes, you read correctly. Fountain building. Every year, ASABE hosts "Fountain Wars" at the annual conference. This competition calls for teams of undergraduate ABE students to build a fountain in real-time at the conference. The fountain must meet a variety of design criteria and technical tasks, some of which can get pretty out there. This year's student teams were tasked with creating a fountain that could shoot (Little Tike) hoops and float in a circle. UF took first place! 

Next year's Annual International Meeting is being held in Orlando, so stay tuned for opportunities on how to get involved in 2016!

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