The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced the creation of the Center for Digital Agriculture (CDA), a new center that brings together agricultural producers, researchers and industries to innovate on the technology that is transforming agriculture to feed and support a growing global population.
The center, which launches at the Center for Digital Agriculture Industry Conference on Oct. 9, seeks to develop digital solutions to agricultural roadblocks.
“We're extremely proud and excited to announce the launch of the Center for Digital Ag at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,” Illinois chancellor Robert J. Jones said. “This new center will serve as a hub for collaborative research across a broad spectrum of engineering and agricultural disciplines within our university and with collaborators across the globe. The discoveries and innovations that come out of the center will continue the Illinois tradition of being the birthplace of transformations in the way we live, think and learn with digital technologies.”
CDA is a collaboration of the University of Illinois' Grainger College of Engineering, the College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the Institute for Genomic Biology. It seeks to leverage Illinois' historic land-grant pillars of agriculture and engineering and position both to work in tandem towards a digital future, the announcement said.
“The Center for Digital Agriculture is a long-term endeavor aimed at developing novel computing and engineering technologies and using them in innovative ways to sustainably feed a growing, healthy population,” said Vikram Adve, co-director of CDA and Donald Gillies professor of computer science. “As a computer scientist, engineer, researcher and educator, I am excited by the technical challenges that will have to be solved across a wide range of domains and by the opportunities for collaborating with faculty and industry from diverse areas to address food, agriculture and environmental problems crucial to society.”
Combining programs in both engineering and agriculture will allow CDA to go further than deploying and applying digital improvements; instead, the center's focus will be on the collaborative process of researching and developing new digital techniques and tools to address agricultural problems, the announcement said.
“The Center for Digital Agriculture is a broad, interdisciplinary center founded to identify digital solutions for agricultural problems,” said Matt Hudson, CDA co-director and professor in the department of crop sciences. “This includes research, education and outreach activities. I am very excited about the potential of our new center for researchers, farmers, students and industry in Illinois and beyond.”
In addition to interdisciplinary research, CDA will also launch multiple partnerships with companies across both the agriculture and computing industries, including collaborative research projects, summer internships and scholarship programs, providing students with opportunities to flourish in an emerging field of study.
A formal industrial-affiliates program will provide member companies with preferred recruiting opportunities, priority for collaborative research and consulting, early access to research outcomes and licensing opportunities for intellectual property. More extensive research and development partnerships with individual companies will be a primary goal of the center, the announcement said.
By combining world-class research with scholarship and private industry, CDA seeks to become a hub of agricultural innovation and a global leader in digital agriculture.