AGCO Industry Day Connects Students with Employers

Madison Weishaar, Reporter

Undergraduate students in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences attended the AGCO Industry Day event last Wednesday at the Raven Precision Agriculture Center.

AGCO Corporation, founded in 1990, is a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of ag equipment. AGCO of Jackson, Minnesota, employs over 1,000 people and is the nearest location to South Dakota State University.

The event began at 4 p.m. with a presentation on internships from AGCO Corporation. In the coming year, the company is looking to fill 12-15 intern positions in design, electrical, software and lab and field testing.

Students and guests then talked with AGCO representatives while enjoying pizza and ice cream.

“While freshmen and sophomores got exposure to companies like AGCO, juniors and seniors were able to narrow down their areas of interest,” Kristin Stuckey, coordinator of the event and advisor in the department of ag and biosystems engineering, said.

Representatives of AGCO also used the event as an opportunity to showcase two new prototypes of equipment such as a tractor with the highest horsepower in the industry and a sprayer built to handle a wide variety of terrain and crops.

“AGCO was able to bring up some brand-new equipment to spark conversations with the students,” Douglas Prairie, instructor in the department of ag and biosystems engineering, said. “The sprayer they had literally came off the production line and the paint was still wet when it was put on the truck.”      

About 100 students ranging from freshmen to seniors majoring in ag and biosystems engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, precision agriculture and ag systems technology attended the two-hour event, Stuckey said.

“The event allowed me to make in-depth conversations with the AGCO reps,” Ethan Owen, freshman ag and biosystems engineering student from Volga, said. “We learned more about what they do as a company.”

For Stuckey, the most exciting part of the event was seeing the students who have already interned with AGCO generate excitement in the underclassmen.

Levi Sorenson, a senior ag and biosystems engineering major from Alden, Minnesota, interned with AGCO last summer. In his sophomore year of college, Sorenson applied for an internship through AGCO. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though, he was unable to fulfill the experience. Sorenson did not give up, though. As a junior, he applied again and was hired. 

“I think this event was really cool being someone that actually worked for AGCO as an intern,” he said. “A big thing for me was they already saw my name roll across the desk once.”

Sorenson expanded on the significance of students attending AGCO Industry Day and similar events to make meaningful connections with employers.

“Networking is huge,” he said. “A lot of things these days is knowing people to get your foot in the door.”

The company likes the students in SDSU’s programs, and it wants to help by investing in the university.

“It means a lot because it is showing the quality of the program,” Sorenson said.

AGCO supports students in the ag and biosystems engineering department in ways other than providing students internships and full-time job opportunities.

They also sponsor the international quarter scale team and endorse senior design projects. AGCO also donated the Massey Ferguson tractor that students use for labs in Mid Bay.

The first-ever AGCO Industry Day event was in the old ag engineering building in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department was unable to host the event again until this fall.

“The event was a success and we had planned on doing it again but COVID put a hold on those plans,” Prairie said. “So it was fun to finally be able to do it again this year.”

Going forward, it is Stuckey’s and Prairie’s goal to keep the event alive.

“Any opportunity we can provide the students opens up more pathways to aid in our department’s placement rates,” Stuckey said.  

Inviting more companies to campus is one way they plan to achieve their goal.

“We hope to continue off the success of this event by having AGCO and other industry partners come to campus to recruit our students,” Prairie said. “We appreciate the support of our industry partners and look forward to working with them on future events like this.”

The university said students should be on the lookout for more information to come as companies like C&B, POET, Vermeer and Ag Leader are scheduled to visit in the next few weeks.