The Center for Digital Agriculture (CDA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was formed to help agricultural producers, researchers, and industries keep pace with the ways technology is transforming how we feed and support a growing global population. Increased global productivity and sustainability requires technical innovations that involve CDA’s primary themes: Automation, Data, Animals and Crops, and People.
Successful innovations will further increase the need for a workforce skilled in both agriculture and digital technologies, which will lead to new recruitment, training, and retraining challenges for the rural workforce as well as for private sector agricultural concerns. Illinois will be at the forefront in addressing the immediate need for a workforce that can meet these new demands, with novel, cross-disciplinary degree programs and extensive outreach activities.
CDA will enable multidisciplinary research as well as education and outreach involving agricultural, biological, food, consumer, economic, and environmental researchers together with computer science, electrical, civil, mechanical, and other engineering fields. The University of Illinois is uniquely placed to take the lead in such multidisciplinary research, with departments spanning all these fields that rank in the top tier of all of their respective disciplines.
We’ll do this by leveraging the strong tradition of teambuilding for large long-term interdisciplinary research at Illinois, including the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA) and the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB). Expertise from these and other centers will advance collaborations between the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and the Grainger College of Engineering.
CDA will also launch multiple kinds of partnerships with companies across both agriculture and computing industries. These partnerships will include collaborative research projects, summer internships, and scholarship programs. 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.