Laura Landis, sophomore Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering student in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, received a $2,500 nationally competitive scholarship from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, ASABE.

Student Laura Landis on the Texas A&M University campus.
Texas A&M Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering student Laura Landis was one of four students across the country to receive a competitive scholarship from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Michael Miller)

The association’s 2022 CNH Industrial Undergraduate Student Scholarship was awarded to Landis and three other students from across the nation. ASABE is an international educational organization dedicated to the advancement of engineering applicable to agricultural, food and biological systems. The scholarships were made possible with the support of CNH Industrial, an international equipment and services company.

Students were judged, in part, on responses to questions about CNH Industrial, ASABE and the benefit of membership in a professional organization. All winners were engaged in their ASABE student chapters and credited their involvement in helping prepare them for biological and agricultural engineering careers.

Landis said she knew she wanted to pursue a career in engineering because of her love for science and math. Her time at Texas A&M and love for agriculture directed her toward her degree plan and pursuit of a career in either machinery or food systems engineering. 

“I grew up in small town that had 4-H and FFA, and my family is involved in agriculture, but I was never really interested or involved until I came to Texas A&M,” she said. “I didn’t realize that I liked to be around agriculture and people who valued agriculture until I looked into what the department had to offer.”

ASABE meeting, scholarship opens doors

Patricia Smith, Ph.D., Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering head, said it was exciting to have a student receive a competitive national scholarship for undergraduates.

“It’s exciting for Laura because she is one of four students selected from across the country, but it’s also good for us as a department,” she said. “Laura’s scholarship also shows, from a department point of view, that our efforts and focus on reengagement with ASABE on a state and national level is creating positive momentum.”

Smith said engagement with professional organizations is important for students and the profession. Student involvement can provide opportunities for scholarships and competitions or to remain apprised of technological advancements within the field as well as inclusion in a network that can help professional and career development.

Landis agrees. Attending the ASABE International Meeting in Houston last year was an invaluable learning and networking experience.

She believes her scholarship award is attributable to her experience at the annual meeting. In-person engagement with researchers, professors, industry professionals and company representatives at the conference could open doors to internships during her academic career and job opportunities later, she said.

“Attending the conference was fantastic,” Landis said. “It was an opportunity to see student research presentations and learn about the new standards and new technology coming out. Knowing what is going on in the field is important, but I feel like I was educated on so much so fast just by attending.”

Creating more opportunities for engagement

Cultivating more opportunities for student engagement with ASABE members, other professionals and industry insiders is a priority for the ASABE student chapter in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

The chapter holds “industry night” meetings that feature speakers with ties to the field, Landis said. She hopes the chapter can create opportunities for students to attend future ASABE meetings but also to present research or send competitive teams.

Smith hopes Landis’ scholarship is a step in the direction for more involvement and engagement by students and faculty.

“Laura is a wonderful student, and I think this scholarship will help her beyond the obvious financial support,” Smith said. “The scholarship and her experience at the annual meeting are good examples of what being involved and staying engaged can do for a student. Biological and agricultural engineering needs vibrant young minds to advance the field.”

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