Two state-of-the-art Trimble Technology Labs are now open to students at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). One lab is on Ohio State’s Columbus campus, while a second is located on the CFAES Wooster campus.
Trimble, headquartered in Westminster, Colo., built the multidisciplinary labs to enhance the university’s hands-on learning, teaching, research, and outreach activities in food and agricultural engineering, as well as in construction management.
“The new Trimble Technology Labs help Ohio State lead the way when it comes to innovative agriculture programs,” said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES. “Not only does Trimble help the university in the classroom, but having such a well-respected agriculture partner engaged with the college opens a lot of doors within the industry for our students and community.”
The new Trimble Technology Labs provide students with access to leading agriculture and construction technologies used by industry professionals. With added hands-on learning opportunities, these labs will ultimately help a greater number of students prepare for their future careers. In the inaugural year, more than 1,000 Ohio State students will have access to the labs for courses dedicated to the next generation of agriculture and construction careers.
“In recent years, farming and construction industries have faced crucial labor shortages and skilled labor gaps,” said Jim Chambers, vice president, agriculture, Trimble. “Similarly, universities like The Ohio State University have seen a decline in enrollment for these types of degrees. With the added technology in these labs, we’re looking to not only attract the next generation of agriculture and construction professionals, but we hope to attract a whole new subset of students looking for technology careers that may not have realized a career in agriculture or construction could be for them.”
The Ohio State Trimble Technology Labs are the first to include Trimble agriculture solutions. The centerpiece of the labs are customized training workstations that simulate the use of Trimble agriculture hardware and software in the classroom, including machine guidance and control, assisted steering, field leveling, and water management systems. The workstations enable students to interact with technology in the classroom before they begin working with equipment in the field.
Historically, agriculture and construction classes have been focused around lecture-style curriculums. By starting in the workstation lab setting, moving to technology-equipped all-terrain vehicles, and then to full-sized agricultural and construction equipment, learners have more opportunities to master the skill sets needed to excel in precision farming and construction management.
In addition to students, the Trimble Technology Labs will be available to the greater farming community in Ohio and beyond. Ohio State University Extension, CFAES’ statewide outreach arm, will help support training programs to re-equip farmers and agricultural professionals with technologies that can improve productivity, increase efficiencies, and drive sustainable farming practices. The labs will not only be used for workforce development opportunities, but also for faculty research purposes, local youth agriculture groups such as Ohio 4-H youth development and FFA, and local field days. The labs will also offer opportunities for worker training outside of the usual university, for-credit courses by offering targeted workshops for certifications, appealing to current farm workers, local dealers, or businesses in the agricultural industry.
The Trimble workstations include a combination of hardware and software to prepare students in agricultural sciences and engineering to use equipment in the field, including workflows such as guidance, autosteer, water management, and application technologies. The workstations are designed to replicate what happens in the field.
Alongside the agriculture solutions, the labs include a broad range of Trimble’s industry-leading geospatial and construction solutions such as the Trimble XR10 HoloLens hardhat, robotic total stations, 3D scanners, and GNSS systems. Advanced software solutions include eCognition geospatial analysis software; RealWorks scanning software; TerraFlex Advanced GIS data collection; Trimble Access field software; Trimble Business Center Infrastructure Construction edition; Tekla® Structures; Tekla Structural Design Suite; Trimble Connect® collaboration software; Estimation MEP; FieldLink Office; Quadri; SysQue; and the company’s popular and intuitive 3D modeling software, SketchUp.
Trimble has a history of partnering with Ohio State through philanthropic support dating back to 1987. The software and hardware represent the largest in-kind philanthropic investment to support teaching, research, and outreach in the history of CFAES. Its contributions also won Trimble the 2023 Corporate Partner of the Year Award from the National Agricultural Alumni Development Association (NAADA), a national philanthropic association for agricultural education institutions.