Innovation and Technology in Agriculture and the Environment

The Earth’s population will likely exceed 10 billion people in just a few decades, requiring an 80% increase in agricultural production. This presents an urgent need for innovative technologies to make agriculture more efficient, as well as to optimize and adapt existing processes to changing conditions. This course focuses on three fundamental areas that underpin agricultural innovation: 

  1. Nano/micro/global aspects of environmental impacts including climate, weather, and microbiological
  2. The application of advanced technologies, such as new materials and machines, in agricultural processes
  3. The use of data and modeling to improve yield by enhanced precision and predictive power using large-scale data analytics and simulation

This course offers a unique interdisciplinary experience, bringing together faculty and practitioners from related areas. It’s the only place you can get such a concentrated and comprehensive view of this emerging field.

This course was previously titled "Agriculture, Innovation, and the Environment."

Earn a Professional Certificate in Innovation and Technology

This course may be taken individually or as an elective for the Professional Certificate Program in Innovation and Technology.

Lead Instructor(s): 

Markus Buehler

Dates: 

Jun 19, 2017 - Jun 23, 2017

Course Length: 

5 Days

Course Fee: 

$4,500

CEUs: 

3.1

Status: 

  • Open

It is highly recommended that you apply for a course at least 6-8 weeks before the start date to guarantee there will be space available. After that date you may be placed on a waitlist. Courses with low enrollment may be cancelled up to 4 weeks before start date if sufficient enrollments are not met. If you are able to access the online application form, then registration for that particular course is still open.

This course has limited enrollment. Apply early to guarantee your spot.

Participant Takeaways: 

Takeaways from this course include:

  • Understanding the critical role of interdisciplinary innovation in creating the agricultural technologies of the future for the next round of productivity gains
  • Understanding the current and potential role of biomaterials in agriculture
  • Understanding of nano-scale relevant to agriculture
  • Understanding the role of computation in materials design for agricultural applications
  • Highlighting the essentials of advanced technology such as drones, robotics, and remote sensing technology
  • Understanding the principles of spatial design of experiments and the use of relevant data
  • Exploring infrastructure, mathematical models, and software in a laboratory setting
  • Appreciating the important role of climate, weather, and microbiology and ways to mitigate negative consequences

Who Should Attend: 

This course is designed for people in roles/titles such as VP, director, or manager of R&D; general management with technical background; research scientist or engineer; government administrators (U.S. or overseas); as well as people in academia such as university professors or graduate students.

Industries that would benefit from this course include chemical, machinery, environmental, commodity production (agricultural), seed manufacturing, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, venture capital, and agricultural non-profits including cooperative.

Program Outline: 

Note: Schedule/outline is subject to change. Last updated 2/9/2017

MONDAY

9:00–10:00 am: Introduction to the course, formation of groups
Markus J. Buehler, Faculty Director
Department Head, Civil and Environmental Engineering; McAfee Professor of Engineering; Director, Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Mechanics

10:00–10:30 am: Exchange — Attendees provide informal introductions to colleagues

10:30–10:45 am: Break

10:45 am–Noon: Introductory lecture
Chandra Madramootoo, James McGill Professor, McGill University and and MIT Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS)

Noon–1:00 pm: Lunch

1:00–2:00 pm: Big Picture — Atmospheric Effects and Climate Change
Dan Cziczo, Associate Professor, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS)

2:00–3:00 pm: Big Picture — Food security and sustainable resource management in the context of climate change I
Dennis McLaughlin, H.M. King Bhumibol Professor, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

3:00–3:15 pm: Break

3:15–4:00 pm: Big Picture —Food security and sustainable resource management in the context of climate change II
Dennis McLaughlin, H.M. King Bhumibol Professor, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

4:00–5:00 pm: Big Picture — Future microbial threats to agriculture and humans
Martin F. Polz, Professor, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

5:00 pm: Adjourn

5:15–6:30 pm: Reception

TUESDAY

8:30–10:00 am: Technical — Soil science and related
Benjamin Kocar, Assistant Professor, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering  

10:0010:15 am: Break

10:15am–noon: Technical — Water, soil, infrastructure
Ruben Juanes, Associate Professor, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Director, Henry L. Pierce Laboratory for Infrastructure Science and Engineering

Noon–1:00 pm: Lunch

1:00–3:00 pm: Technical — Disease transmission and fluid mechanics
Lydia Bourouiba, Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Assistant Professor, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Associate Faculty, Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES)

3:00–3:15 pm: Break

3:15–5:00 pm: Laboratory Demonstration — Civil and Environmental Engineering
Lydia Bourouiba, Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Assistant Professor, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Associate Faculty, Institute for Medical Engineering and Science

WEDNESDAY

8:30–10:30 am: Technical — Bioengineering and biomaterials
Robert S. Langer, MIT Institute Professor, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Professor of Biological Engineering, Professor of Mechanical Engineering

10:30–11:00 am: Break

11:00 am–Noon: Technical — Innovation in clean water technology
Dr. Anupam Bhargava, VP, Advanced Technology & Innovation, Xylem Inc.

Noon–1:00 pm: Lunch

1:00–3:00 pm: Technical — Biomaterials in agriculture, silk-based materials, and food preservation
Benedetto Marelli, Paul M. Cook Career Development Assistant Professor, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

3:00–3:15 pm: Break

3:15–5:00 pm: Laboratory Demonstration
Benedetto Marelli, Paul M. Cook Career Development Assistant Professor, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

THURSDAY

8:30–10:30 am: Technical — Advanced materials design
Markus J. Buehler, Faculty Director

10:30–10:45 am: Break

10:45–Noon: Related Laboratory — Molecular dynamics modeling and simulation
Markus J. Buehler, Faculty Director

Noon–1:00 pm: Lunch

1:00 pm–3:00 pm: Technical — Multiplexed nanosensors for real-time monitoring of food and water contamination
Michael Strano, Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering, MIT Department of Chemical Engineering

3:00–3:15 pm: Break

3:15–5:00pm: Technical — Sustainable Agriculture
Marco Ferroni, PhD, Executive Director, Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, Switzerland  

FRIDAY

8:30–9:30 am: Topic TBD
Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Administrator of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Washington DC

9:30–10:30 am: TBD

10:30–10:45 am: Break

10:45–11:45 am: Group discussion and short presentations
Markus J. Buehler, Faculty Director

11:45–Noon: Wrap-up and award of certificates
Markus J. Buehler, Faculty Director

Noon: End of program

Course Schedule: 

This course meets 9:00 am - 5:00 pm on Monday, 8:30 am -  5:00 pm Tuesday through Thursday, and 8:30 am - Noon on Friday. There will be a course reception after class on Monday, 5:15 - 6:30 pm.

Participants’ Comments: 

Engineering Librarian, MIT

"The experience was immersive. Having all that time to learn and meet people who are working in this area provided a valuable knowledge burst. The lectures and group projects were very interesting and thought provoking. The lecturers really know what they are talking about and how to communicate it to a diverse audience."

Technologist, MIT

"What I learned was cutting edge innovative approach to solve most emerging problems."

Instructors: 

Location: 

This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Content: 

Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (35%) 35
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (40%) 40
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (25%) 25

Delivery Methods: 

Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (70%) 70
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (10%) 10
Labs: Demonstrations, experiments, simulations (20%) 20

Levels: 

Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (40%) 40
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (25%) 25
Advanced: In-depth explorations at the graduate level (35%) 35