Mechanical Systems Design Clinic for Agriculture
Unlike the agriculture of other regions that are dominated by a few basic crops, California’s agriculture is extremely diverse and varied. Over 250 crops are grown commercially within the state. This impacts the availability of equipment for many of our growers and agribusinesses. Agricultural machine manufacturers can invest large amounts in the development of optimal equipment for processing large-scale crops, such as corn and soybeans. However, the crop diversity in California precludes these same manufacturers from investing similar resources to develop optimal equipment for specialty crops grown on significantly smaller acreages. Likewise, California agribusinesses may serve specialized niche needs without the size or throughput necessary to receive the attention of major agricultural equipment developers and manufacturers. Businesses in this class, whether producer, processor, supplier, or other, may be characterized by: small scale operation; smaller production volumes; unique or unusual requirements or constraints dictated by their market niche; or special requirements necessary to achieve a value-added processing goal.
The Mechanical Systems Design Clinic, housed within the senior level BRAE 421/422 Equipment Engineering course in Cal Poly’s BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department has evolved into an institution to serve the specialty needs of numerous California agribusinesses. The primary objective of this project is to allow undergraduate senior level students to apply knowledge gained during their engineering education to the solution of real-world mechanical system development problems. Simultaneously, the agriculture industry will benefit from having fresh approaches taken to current challenges. This last year, student teams in BRAE 421/422 were involved with four development projects: