JCAST CONNECT CONTENT VOL. 1

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Research is Key to the Future

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How would you describe Fresno State? Would the words cutting edge make the list? If your answer is no, it s time to take a look at the transformation that is happening within the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.


The university is recruiting new faculty members with the intention to transfer this university from purely teaching to teaching and research oriented, said N. P. Mahalik, assistant professor of Industrial Technology.


Mahalik says that this shift will benefit future students. The position I am occupying is processing and packaging technology, which is a brand new position for the university, said Mahalik. Since the San Joaquin Valley is full of agriculture we have 3,300 food processing and packaging industries here. Students don t know how many prospects there are. We are promoting the technological aspect of agriculture.


Mahalik is enthusiastic about the outlook of industrial technology at Fresno State because of the college s support of this new research and teaching culture. He said, We are very much obliged to our deans because they have provided a seed grant for new faculty. As soon as new faculty land here they can start with money to do research. In two years, I have already received $70,000 from the Dean s office. I have involved 20 students in the project as well.


Many students are finding their way to agriculture through research. Diganta Dig Adhikari started working at Red Rock Ranch in Five Points because the Department of Plant Science needed a computer technician.


It was my day job as a student, said Adhikari. I was a Computer Science major [in the master s program]. I was supposed to be in a computer cubicle there but then I go involved with soils.


During his work at Red Rock Ranch, Dig quickly saw that the current technology was not meeting the need of average farmers.


I realized that there is a huge void for electronics and technology in the field of agriculture and environmental sciences, said Adhikari. Seven years ago, there were only a handful of people working in this direction. Now, we have a variety of research projects focusing on precision agriculture, SMART irrigation system, real-time monitoring of air emissions and ET estimates of crops to name a few. All these projects utilize state of the art technology driven by customized embedded field computer system, but seven years ago people thought that it was not possible, too expensive.


Adhikari has now completed his master s degrees in Computer Science and Industrial Technology and is pursuing his doctorate. His link to research at Fresno State has grown to include projects involving irrigation, soils, air and the interaction between each of them.


Research is also helping to connect students with industry.


Yield monitoring is the sleeping giant of the viticulture industry, said Kaan Kurtural, assistant professor of Viticulture and Enology. It is not just going to have an impact here in the Valley, but all of California and the rest of the world.


The relevant nature of this research has encouraged a number of stakeholders to get involved. The research is being conducted in collaboration with a variety of companies such as grape growers, Constellation and Gallo, equipment company, Oxbo, and a variety of faculty and students here at Fresno State.


The main goal of the project was to train students, said Kurtural. They need to learn how this stuff works, so they can pick this technology up in the field when they become ranch managers. Students who work on these projects get an understanding of plant physiology, precision viticulture, mechanized viticulture, software. Then they go to these ranches [and] get to meet with managers and directors and equipment manufacturers.


There aren t that many universities that offer the types of opportunities or classes that we offer.


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