Challenges and Opportunities for Education in Irrigation Engineering Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Declining enrollments in a declining number of university degree programs in irrigation engineering are generating concern about the future of irrigation engineering expertise.Technical degree and certificate programs offer options for professionals in irrigation careers, especially those in landscape irrigation careers requiring licensure.Extension programs are evolving to include more on-demand internet-based and social media-based information delivery, as audiences have become more accustomed to these platforms.Addressing workforce and expertise needs in irrigation engineering is critically important, and it will involve equipping future professionals to address national and international challenges in agriculture.Abstract. Irrigation continues to be economically important in the U.S. and internationally, yet there is concern about future accessibility to appropriate expertise and the engineering preparation of irrigation professionals for both public and private sectors. Recent and impending retirements of academic and industry leaders, losses of some important academic programs (curricula/degree programs, research, and extension) in irrigation engineering, and reduced numbers of students threaten to significantly limit irrigation engineering capacity, especially in agricultural irrigation. Some of the challenges can be met through opportunities afforded by development of distance education programs; expansion of multi-state, multi-agency, multi-university collaborations; and increasing public-private partnerships, as well as through vigorous recruitment efforts. Recruitment can be strengthened by improving the competitiveness of salaries to be commensurate with other engineering disciplines, and by demonstrating and better explaining the abilities of the irrigation engineering profession to meet future challenges related to food, fiber, fuel, and ecosystem demands of a rapidly growing global population. While access to irrigation engineering expertise, especially domestic expertise, has declined, the need for such technical support and information for practitioners has not decreased. In fact, in many cases, technical advancements from public and industry developments have greatly outpaced the capacity for applied research and extension programs to robustly evaluate technologies and deliver objective, science-based recommendations. Growing knowledge gaps and time lags have exacerbated restlessness among some audiences, increasing the opportunities for promotion of unsubstantiated claims for some products that remain unchallenged, and further confusing appropriate selection from a growing array of available technologies. Keywords: Continuing education, Distance education, Extension, Irrigation engineering, Public-private partnerships, Technical support.

published proceedings

  • Transactions of the ASABE

author list (cited authors)

  • Porter, D. O., Irmak, S., Lamm, F., Marek, T., & Rein, B.

complete list of authors

  • Porter, Dana O||Irmak, Suat||Lamm, Freddie||Marek, Thomas||Rein, Bradley

publication date

  • January 1, 2020 11:11 AM