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South Dakota State University Hosts Grand Opening Ceremony for Raven Precision Agriculture Center

Ribbon Cutting at Raven Precision Agriculture Grand Opening Ceremony
From left to right: John Killefer, South Dakota Corn Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences; Dan Rykhus, President and Chief Executive Officer, Raven Industries; Representative David Anderson, South Dakota Legislator, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem; Rosalyn Madsen, SDSU precision agriculture student; Barry H. Dunn, SDSU President; Mike Jaspers, Interim Executive Director, South Dakota Corn; Grant Rix, President, South Dakota Corn Utilization Council; Bruce Berdanier, Lohr Endowed Dean of the Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering.

After breaking ground in fall 2018, a public grand opening ceremony for the Raven Precision Agriculture Center was held Saturday, September 11, at 2:00 p.m. on the South Dakota State University campus in Brookings. Following the ceremony, attendees were invited to take tours of the new $46.1 million facility that was supported by South Dakota stakeholder groups, industry partners and legislative leaders. 

“We are here to celebrate an innovative ecosystem that will not only impact the future of SDSU, but will also positively impact our ability to serve this state and region, and to provide educational and hands-on experiences which will lead to our students feeding and sustaining a hungry world,” said John Killefer, South Dakota Corn Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

The center brings the Departments of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science under one roof, which were previously housed in separate buildings on campus. This innovative environment will allow for increased student-faculty interaction, industry networking opportunities, inter-departmental research collaboration and hands-on learning.

Rosalyn Madsen, SDSU precision agriculture student, speaks at the Raven Precision Agriculture Center Grand Opening Ceremony.
Rosalyn Madsen, SDSU precision agriculture student, speaks at the Raven Precision Agriculture Center Grand Opening Ceremony.

“With the opening of this new facility, we as students will be able to expand our network to those outside of our area of study,” said Rosalyn Madsen, junior precision agriculture student from Franklin, Minnesota. “This new building offers advanced opportunities for we as students as well as faculty, to enhance our knowledge in areas of production agriculture, and allows room for growth as precision technologies constantly advance and change.”

The new facility measures 122,694 sq. ft. and includes 15 teaching labs, six hands-on labs, 12 research labs, 22 collaborative spaces and office space for more than 50 graduate students.

“We have an obligation to lead the next revolution in agriculture,” said Dan Rykhus, Chief Executive Officer of Raven Industries, which the center was named after. “Facilities matter – it’s more than just brick and mortar. We must have people come together to make sure agriculture continues to advance, and the Raven Precision Agriculture Center will make that happen.”

The center features a 4,245 sq. ft. high bay area with a 3-ton overhead crane that provides students with real-world experience working on modern, full-size equipment and machinery. 

“This facility, this catalyst for launching precision agriculture forward, is proof that active leadership by individuals and commodity groups works,” said Mike Jaspers, Interim Executive Director of South Dakota Corn. “Our agricultural industry needs to continue to adapt and provide leadership and support in order to ensure we are preparing our graduates to be successful. We need to continue to grow by ensuring we have the facilities and spaces to perform cutting edge research to benefit our agricultural industry, and through the power of young people who attend fine institutions such as SDSU, the industry looks to these students to be the next leaders in our state.”

Additionally, SDSU is one of few universities in the United States to offer dynamometer equipment for teaching and learning, which is adjacently located to the high bay area. In this space, students have the ability to measure rear wheel and PTO horsepower at the same time.

“This grand facility is where innovation will happen, and new technologies will be developed, allowing farmers to be more profitable, our environment healthier, and food supplies more reliable for generations to come,” said Barry H. Dunn, SDSU President. “Our students, now and in the future, who walk the halls of this building, will go on to create new businesses, lead organizations, and conduct research that will forever change the way we grow, harvest, and deliver the world’s food.”

In celebration of the grand opening, SDSU hosted the second Precision Agriculture Bowl football game vs. Lindenwood following the event, which resulted in a 52-7 win for the Jackrabbits.