Ting is only the sixth head since the
department was formed in 1921, during a time when agriculture was
being revolutionized by mechanization. Ting noted that the
mechanization of agriculture was listed by the National Academy of
Engineering among the top 20 engineering achievements of the 20th
However, he foresees
that the next revolution in farm machinery will be automation -- a
movement toward smart machines that can make humanlike decisions and
adjustments automatically. This includes everything from self-guided
robots and remote sensing systems to animal housing that can adjust
environmental conditions automatically.
Ting comes to U of I from Ohio
State, where he was chair of the Department of Food, Agricultural
and Biological Engineering. During his tenure at Ohio State, student
numbers were almost doubled and faculty's external funding increased
Ting said he hopes to similarly
boost student recruitment at U of I, and he aims to keep the program
at the top of the national rankings. The most recent rankings from
U.S. News and World Report showed U of I as having the No. 2
agricultural engineering program in the United States.
"This is also the only agricultural
engineering program in the country to be part of two top-five-ranked
colleges," Ting added.
U of I's Department of Agricultural
and Biological Engineering is part of the College of Engineering, as
well as the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental
Sciences. And each of those colleges is ranked in the top five in
For Ting, the move to Illinois is
something of a homecoming because he received his Ph.D. in
agricultural engineering from U of I in 1980.
"It's very exciting and humbling to
be coming back to Illinois," he said. "Most of the things that I
have been able to do for the past 24 years came from what I learned
[to top of second column in
Ting has certainly managed to do a
lot in those 24 years, having worked in virtually every area of
agricultural and biological engineering. Most recently, he has
applied agricultural engineering concepts to advanced life-support
systems for NASA. He has been studying ways to grow food, handle
wastes, recover resources and deal with other needs of crews who may
someday spend long periods on Mars.
In addition to his considerable
experience, Ting has the vision to lead the department into the 21st
century, noted Bode, who has been with the department since 1972.
Also, by stepping in for Bode, he completes the department's move to
a new generation of agricultural and biological engineers.
"The earlier generation did a
tremendous job on mechanization and serving the production
community," Bode said. "But now we have a new generation of young
faculty, and we're moving into the information age, in which remote
sensing, robotics and similar technology have taken center stage."
The department is also integrating
biology into its mission in ways that had not been done in the past.
"We're bringing life to
engineering," Ting said. Instead of just nuts and bolts,
agricultural engineering today draws in a lot more chemistry,
microbiology and other life sciences.
Ting steps in as the new department
head on Nov 1. As for Bode, he will remain active, working with
students, improving recruitment and leading training programs in the
chemical application area.
"The bottom line," Bode added, "is
that I'll do what my new boss tells me."
of Illinois news release]