Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ASABE AIM 2016: Ag and Bio Engineering in the Happiest Place on Earth

Last month marked one of the high points of every summer for our UF/IFAS group – ASABE’s Annual International Meeting (AIM). As an added treat this year’s meeting was held in Orlando so travel was markedly easier for us. Further, I was offered the opportunity to don my digital comms hat and attend.

ASABE’s AIM is an excellent venue for staying abreast of the latest research in Ag & Bio engineering on the local, national and international level. Presentations ranged from food processing to biofuels to landscape irrigation to precision ag and robotics - essentially all the disciplines of the field.

Familiar faces on Sunday morning: UF ABE PhD Students Joe Sagues and Natalie Nelson
It’s quite the slate of events, often running concurrently. In addition, students have a prominent role at AIM, as volunteers, as presenters (talks and posters) and as competitors in various events.

Getting the Story
For me, AIM began in early July when I learned I would be covering the Fountain Wars student competition. Fountain Wars is an AIM staple that challenges student teams to devise ways of using water and engineering to accomplish specific tasks. 

Putting in work: Mike and Lexi of UF ABE's Fountain Wars squad
I was able to connect with the UF ABE team as they made final preparations for competition. This allowed me to both learn about the event and begin the documentation process early, should UF be victorious. See more about the 2016 competition's tasks in the short video below.

My other assignment was robotics. Each year student teams are given a task around which to construct robots that will fulfill the challenge. 

Picking it up and delivering: Clemson Edisto's robots came to win
This year the theme was citrus and the robots had to pick up items, separate them by color and deliver them to one another and then a final location. I did not have the luxury of touching base with the UF ABE team outside of AIM so I had to get the team and event story on site. Following a long absence, the UF ABE robotics team returned to competition again in 2016. 

Team member Amanda DeCanio with one of UF ABE robotics' mean machines
Bringing Home Gold
Two of our closest collaborators won big at AIM 2016. Dr. Michael Dukes was awarded the John Deere Gold Medal for excellence in the application of science and art to the soil
And Dr. Kati Migliaccio was recognized for outstanding associate editor.

A Plethora of Resources
If you were not at AIM 2016 or wish to revisit one of the many excellent presentations, all are available here. You can also relive the events as they happened on Twitter. And finally watch for two videos about the student competitions mentioned above to be released in August.

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