Biosystems Engineering History

Survey Class-HistoricalThe Biosystems Engineering Department officially began in 1919 and was namedAgricultural Engineering. In its early years, the faculty worked hard to improve the quality of life for those involved in Alabama agriculture. In those years before and during the Depression, agricultural engineering faculty members and graduates applied engineering expertise to problems like reducing soil erosion, bringing electricity to rural Alabama, and mechanizing agricultural production systems.

While World War II took students and faculty around the globe, many returned to Auburn to continue to improve the efficiency of agriculture. Working in cooperation with what is now the USDA National Soil Dynamics Laboratory, our faculty endeavored to improve traction and tillage, mechanize cotton production systems, and reduce further the devastating effects of soil erosion.

In the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's, agricultural engineering faculty conducted groundbreaking work on solar energy, alternate fueled engine systems, and anaerobic digestion of animal waste to generate methane gas for powering electrical generation systems. Our engineers developed new methods to control the environment in poultry houses. This controlled environment production, which improved animal health and welfare, led to a revolution in poultry production. Due in large part to engineering advances, Alabama is one of the leading poultry producers in the U.S.

Surveying CampIn the 1970's and 1980's the department began cooperative programs with what was then the Forestry Department and the USDA Forest Service. This new initiative in Forest Engineering continues today. Forest Engineering programs have focused on improving the efficiency and safety of forest machine systems, improving efficiency of transportation systems, reducing environmental impacts from forest operations, and developing new products from our forest resources.

In 1998, the department name was changed to Biosystems Engineering to more appropriately reflect its mission and scope. Today's faculty and graduates work in a wide range of areas including ecological engineering, biological engineering, production and process engineering, and off-highway vehicle engineering. Over our long history, our expertise has removed the drudgery of farming while helping feed our ever-increasing population using environmentally sustainable methods.

Last Updated: Feb 09, 2011