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agBOT Challenge: What IF High-Speed Broadband Reached Everyone?

The following was published in on April 4, 2019
by the Indiana Ag Connection 

West Lafayette, IN - High-tech innovations that are shaping agriculture's future will be showcased during a three-day event at Purdue University alongside an international competition of autonomous robots going head-to-head to complete farm-related tasks.

The College of Agriculture has partnered with Gerrish Farms for the NextGen Expo and agBOT Challenge 2019, which will take place May 16-18 at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE), 4540 U.S. 52 West, West Lafayette. The events provide a venue for farmers, entrepreneurs, teachers, club leaders, students and agtech innovators to see a variety of unmanned machine innovations and participate in hand-on activities.

"Both events offer a glimpse into the future of how unmanned vehicles and other technologies will impact agriculture and society at large," said Ronald Turco, head of Purdue's Department of Agronomy. "These tools are almost certainly going to be critical to help farmers produce the food that will be required to feed a growing global population, and they also show what is possible with high-speed broadband."

The NextGen Expo, an interactive STEM fair, will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 16. There will be interactive exhibits that cover industry, farm management, agronomy, robotics, crop production, soil health, engineering, botany, computer science, artificial intelligence, weed science, rural broadband and others.

Part of Purdue's 150th celebration's Ideas Festival, the event's activities center on the broader question of "What IF high-speed broadband reached everyone?"

"We wanted to showcase the need for broadband to enhance agriculture, education and health care in rural areas," said Rachel Gerrish, the event's senior executive producer. "NextGen reaches far beyond an agriculture audience. It's a perfect learning opportunity for students -- high school, middle school and elementary -- as well as educators; those leading FFA, 4-H or robotics clubs; club leaders; or anyone with an interest in science, technology and robotics."

One interactive display will allow visitors to bring their own VEX robot or use one available on site to compete in a skills challenge to complete a simulated agricultural task. Visitors will also be able to explore the ACRE grounds and tour the Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center.

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