The Center for Digital Agriculture is in a position to strengthen opportunities for workforce training at different career stages. CDA will also help both students and faculty develop cross-disciplinary research and communication skills, which will advance their ability to perform effectively and efficiently in a dynamic business and academic environment.
The University of Illinois Extension Office (Extension) has locations in every county in the state, and offers extensive outreach programs and community economic development efforts. CDA will work closely with Extension to ensure that rural locations, a highly dispersed workforce, and variable local conditions do not limit, but actually enhance and can benefit from, the impact of digital technologies. We’ll coordinate with private sector organizations to build on existing investments in rural telecommunications, automation, data analysis, and computing.
We’re excited about the new degree opportunities centered on Digital Agriculture that the University is developing. Some of these degrees are now offered while others are in development.
These degree combinations are unique in the United States and include roughly equal numbers of credit hours in computer science and crop or animal sciences. Additional undergraduate “CS+X” degrees in other agriculture and food-related disciplines are likely to be launched in future. Master’s level credential programs are under development designed to train both new students and active professionals in the workforce interested in advancing their technical skills. Center faculty and staff are working closely with the colleges to design the new MS degree in Digital Agriculture.
We’re also reaching out to computational and agricultural programs internal and external to the University of Illinois to increase awareness and penetration of digital agriculture into existing courses.
Educating our youth in digital agriculture is critical to ensure our ability to feed a growing world population. Outreach to K-12 educational programs, open days, and summer camps will be developed to introduce young students to digital agriculture as a career.