Student interns partner with AGCO pros

AgriNews photo/Tom C. Doran Writing on the walls is OK – well, on designated areas — at the newly-opened AGCO Acceleration Center on the University of Illinois campus. This lounge/meeting room’s “chalkboard” can be used to share ideas and offer solutions. U of I students serving as interns at the new facility include Gloria Wang (from left), Paige Jones, Rahul Surti, Hanna Parker and Shashank Saxena.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — University of Illinois students will play an integral role in the future innovations developed at the new AGCO Acceleration Center in Research Park.

The center opens with seven student interns and two full-time employees working to advance the use of mixed reality technology in the agriculture industry and deliver next generation monitoring and management tools to farmers.

Several of the interns were on hand for the Jan. 25 grand opening and tour of the facility and discussed the new center with AgriNews.

“I was hired part way through last semester. I’m a computer science major, so I’m working on some of the web stuff. The facility is really awesome. They have a lot of great ideas, and I’m really excited to be here. It’s exciting to be in on the ground floor of this. We have a lot of big ideas, and I’m really excited about the long-term goals.”

“It’s very exciting because a lot of projects actually don’t have too much direction, which is great because it allows students like us to voice our opinions on where we want the teams to focus on, where we want the project to go. And, obviously, there’s always some overhead in a sense that we always have to talk with peers and make sure everything is OK, but I think it’s a very exciting opportunity both for the students and the company itself to get more involved and engaged.

“I think AGCO is on the right path right now involving technology and students here at the University of Illinois because we have such a strong student body here. It really good for AGCO making a step forward, and I think it’s going to work out pretty well.”

“I work as a user experience intern here. I really love working here. The fellow interns are really friendly, and our bosses see us as partners, not just students. It really feels like a tight-knit family here. I like working here because of how progressive everyone is. They’re always eager to be introduced to new technologies and new ideas.

“I think the best part is our bosses are so flexible, and they’re incredibly forgiving and understanding. At first, it was a little bit of a struggle for them because they’d never worked at a college setting before, but they adapted very quickly, so I’m very thankful for how they were able to understand us as students and also as professionals.”

“I’m the marketing design intern for the facility. I really enjoyed working here and started with both Gloria and Rahul in August. It’s crazy how much it’s changed from when we first got here to know where it’s kind of our space. I really like working with everyone because I’m the only one with and ag background, so I’ve learned a lot from everyone in terms of computer science and everything they’re helping us to do make agriculture better.

“I grew up on a hobby livestock farm near Colfax, Ill., showing pigs and cattle. I’m actually the fifth generation to be enrolled at the College of ACES. My grandparents are grain farmers, my aunt and uncle are grain farmers, my family just shows livestock and my other cousins are faculty members here in meat science and animal sciences. We’re kind of all over the board in agriculture.”

“I’m the mixed reality developer intern for GSI. I can’t reiterate enough how much this place feels like a startup. The culture overall, the technology we’re working on, the projects we’re doing, all of it feels so brand new, even though it’s for a company that’s been around for so long and contributing to such an integral part of society in agriculture. The stuff we’re doing is just amazing. I feel like we can really innovate agriculture in general and have a big impact.”

Tom C. Doran can be reached at 815-780-7894 or tdoran@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow him on Twitter at: @AgNews_Doran.

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