College of Science

Ag & Technology: Merrill Farms Info Session Highlights Ways New COS Programs Can Support the Future of Agriculture

On Tuesday, July 30th Ross Merrill hosted the CSUMB College of Science AgTech Engineering Information Session at Merrill Farms to bring together AgTech leaders from the Salinas Valley and surrounding CSUMB communities. This event marks the beginning of a partnership between CSUMB and Ross Merrill, to provide support for the upcoming Agricultural Plant and Soil Science and Mechatronics Engineering degrees within the College of Science.

The crossover between the upcoming Agricultural Plant and Soil Science and Mechatronics Engineering degrees will focus on the application of mechatronics in the agriculture industry. Mechatronics combines the fields of electronic and mechanical engineering, and computer science to develop technology to streamline dated processes in an effort to enhance functionality.

We recently touched base with Dean Andrew Lawson to learn more about how this session positively impacts students within the College of Science.

Ross Merrill & Family pose with Dean Lawson

The information session was intended to inform the local agricultural community of the College of Science’s plans for future programs in Agricultural Plant and Soil Science and in Mechatronics Engineering. In addition, this session served as a platform to reach out to the agriculture industry as partners to help shape the degrees and to provide opportunities for internships and employment for future graduates.

We hope that by establishing close partnerships with industry early in the process of developing these degrees, that the knowledge and skills learned by students in the programs will be closely aligned with industry demand and will provide the local agriculture industry with the highly skilled workforce it needs to innovate and thrive for future generations. Through internships and industry based capstone projects, students will have established professional networks well before they graduate.

The host of this event, Ross Merrill, took some time to reflect on the event and express his excitement for the future College of Science academic programs.

Ag Drone on display during event

Bringing together Ag industry leaders, the impressive faculty from the College of Science (COS) and community leaders with the backdrop of existing AgTech equipment for an informal show and tell at the Merrill Farms headquarters was a no brainer. Having worked together with the COS leadership council for two years now and learning a bit about the future of AgTech at CSUMB, I felt the time was right to launch some outreach to our local agriculture industry about the exciting things to come in the College.

There are so many ways that future students and graduates of the new Ag and engineering programs can play important roles in the future of AgTech and in the agriculture industry in Salinas Valley. With the many challenges and opportunities that exist today in the fresh vegetable industry, and with the “Salad Bowl of the World” literally right out of CSUMB’s back door, CSUMB students in these programs are perfectly positioned to take advantage of this opportunity.

It is exciting how the COS mechatronics program will bring together different academic disciplines to help solve very challenging issues that exist in our industry. Looking ahead, the most exciting thing for me is the value outlook for the future careers of the COS Mechatronics Engineering graduates in our agriculture industry!

With two new degree programs on the horizon, CSUMB’s College of Science is looking forward to maintaining strong partnerships with local Ag businesses and providing ample opportunities for science students to participate in professional agricultural experiences.

“...partnerships between local schools and universities are very order to make sure that our number one industry remains strong as we go forward”. - Congressman Jimmy Panetta