Education Matters:Donation to Fresno State's agriculture department allows college to go high tech

FRESNO, California - Fresno State is ranked the second best agricultural college in the state; students come from all over to enroll in the program.

The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State is known for its research. But the program is getting a high tech make over; a $250,000 gift is helping to bring new technology.

The agriculture industry is going high tech. Farmers today are using driverless tractors and computer driven technology.
  
John Williams is a faculty member teaching mechanized agriculture in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. It's the fastest growing college at the university with a statewide reputation…yet Williams program lacked something.

"The biggest thing is, when people came into the shop it just looked old and it just needed to be changed," said Williams. 

It just didn't look old, much of the equipment was out dated and although plans to upgrade the facility was on the books, it would take awhile to fund it. But thanks to a $250,000 gift from Dr. James Moller and his wife, the shop has a whole new look.

"We as students appreciate being able to see the school investing time and money into these types of programs where students benefit all around the board," said student Christian Maldonado. 

The gift allowed the mechanized AG program to purchase among other things a new computer controlled plasma cutting table and revamp the welding area, replacing welders from the 1960's. Williams says it has changed the way they teach.

"Instead of having students come in here just to do Arc welding in these booths than when they did Mig welding in another part of the shop and Tig welding went to another part of the shop we can teach all three processes here."

Being able to provide students with new technology allows the college to equip them with the latest skills, skills that are in demand in the workplace.

Cassidy Steenbock says she's been taking mechanics since junior college and jumped into this program full-bore. She says she wants to teach AG education.

"So if we are going to be teaching the future of Ag then we have to teach them the most up to date stuff because that's what they are going to experience when they go out into the world," stated student Cassidy Steenbock.

She has spent countless hours on the new CNC plasma cutter, one of her first assignments, make a thank you sign for the man who made it possible….a gift that will have a huge impact on each student.

"If we have a student that goes through all the classes and they are well rounded in different areas so depending on what career they choose they have a real baseline set of skills."

The renovation of the lab is being done in three phases, next June the program will add more metal works equipment.  


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