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University of Illinois announces Center for Digital Agriculture

The new center will combine campus’ areas of expertise in engineering and agriculture to cement Illinois’ position as an innovator in this emerging field of agricultural technology, and develop solutions to agricultural problems that use digital technology.

URBANA, IL — The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has announced the creation of the Center for Digital Agriculture (CDA), a new center that brings together agricultural producers, researchers, and industries to innovate on the technology that is transforming agriculture to feed and support a growing global population. The center, which will launch today at the Center for Digital Agriculture Industry Conference, seeks to develop digital solutions to agricultural roadblocks.

“We’re extremely proud and excited to announce the launch of the Center for Digital Ag at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,” said Illinois Chancellor Robert J. Jones. “This new center will serve as a hub for collaborative research across a broad spectrum of engineering and agricultural disciplines within our university and with collaborators across the globe. The discoveries and innovations that come out of the Center will continue the Illinois tradition of being the birthplace of transformations in the way we live, think, and learn with digital technologies.”

CDA, which is a collaboration between the University of Illinois’ Grainger College of Engineering, the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB), seeks to leverage Illinois’ historic land-grant pillars of agriculture and engineering and position both to work in tandem towards a digital future.

“The Center for Digital Agriculture is a long-term endeavor aimed at developing novel computing and engineering technologies, and using them in innovative ways to sustainably feed a growing healthy population,” said Vikram Adve, co-director of the CDA and Donald Gillies Professor of Computer Science. “As a computer scientist, engineer, researcher and educator, I am excited by the technical challenges that will have to be solved across a wide range of domains, and by the opportunities for collaborating with faculty and industry from diverse areas to address food, agriculture and environmental problems crucial to society.”

By combining top-tier programs in both engineering and agriculture, Illinois is uniquely placed to take the lead in such multidisciplinary research. This, in turn, allows the CDA to go further than simply deploying and applying digital improvements. Instead, the Center’s focus will be on the collaborative process of researching and developing new digital techniques and tools to address agricultural problems.

“The Center for Digital Agriculture is a broad, interdisciplinary center founded to identify digital solutions for agricultural problems,” said Matt Hudson, co-director of the CDA and professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at Illinois. “This includes research, education and outreach activities. I am very excited about the potential of our new center for researchers, farmers, students and industry in Illinois and beyond.”

In addition to interdisciplinary research, CDA will also launch multiple partnerships with companies across both agriculture and computing industries, including collaborative research projects, summer internships, and scholarship programs, allowing opportunities for students to flourish in an emerging field-of-study.

A formal industrial-affiliates program will provide member companies with preferred recruiting opportunities, priority for collaborative research and consulting, early access to research outcomes, and licensing opportunities for intellectual property. More extensive research and development partnerships with individual companies will be a primary goal of the center.

By combining world-class research with scholarship and private industry, the Center for Digital Agriculture seeks to become a hub of agricultural innovation for years to come, positioning Illinois as a global leader in digital agriculture.

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