Grand opening of ADM Center showcases new ag learning lab


This vibrant mural depicts the colorful learning opportunities available to agriculture students, from research and marketing to crop production. The painting marks the entrance to the ADM Center for Agricultural Development, a laboratory complex designed to enhance students’ knowledge of biofuel production, food production systems and agricultural mechanics through experiential learning. The new facility was sponsored by a $1 million grant from Archer Daniels Midland.

The ADM Center for Agricultural Development was unveiled at a grand opening ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 9. The newly established center contains prototype classrooms for the generation of innovation. Sponsored by a $1 million grant from Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), the renovated laboratory space in the Agricultural Engineering Building at Mizzou, features a computer research center, instructional spaces for teaching welding and computerized systems, a mechanical construction workspace and offices for student collaboration.

At Thursday’s grand opening event, a crowd of faculty, ADM sponsors, alumni and university administrators witnessed project demonstrations by agricultural systems management students. With a focus on gaining knowledge of technical systems through the hands-on application of mechanical skills, students collaborated to create a range of projects—from a quarter-scale tractor to a model grain elevator. The elevated technology of the refurbished laboratory space will allow future College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) students to develop even more advanced mechanical systems, increasing their contributions to the world’s expanding agriculture industry.

Prior to the ceremonial ribbon cutting, Tom Payne, dean of CAFNR, spoke to attendees about the unique synergy between the University of Missouri and ADM.

According to Payne, CAFNR students were recognized by ADM as exceptional employees, and the company’s contribution to the Center for Agricultural Development was a reflection of the value ADM places on developing future talent in the agriculture industry.

“We are here because, after many years, ADM recognized that the University of Missouri is a pretty cool place,” said Payne, gathering a hearty chorus of agreement from those in attendance.

Representing ADM during the event was a graduate of the University of Missouri, Wesley Uhlmeyer, vice president for export trading at ADM. Uhlmeyer, who graduated with a degree in agricultural economics, discussed ADM’s interest in his alma mater.

“We want good people for ourselves, for the industry,” Uhlmeyer said. “To achieve our goal, we want Mizzou to be growing and producing this wonderful talent that we need.”

Hank Foley, senior vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, echoed the sentiments of service and progress in his remarks.

“ADM and Mizzou share a commitment to the responsible, sustainable development of agriculture throughout the world,” Foley said.

Foley emphasized the importance of developing agricultural entrepreneurship—“agri-preneurship”—through experiential learning, a sense of service to the community and society and a deep devotion to economic development.

Director of food systems and bioengineering, Jinglu Tan, highlighted the improvements and increased versatility of the enhanced laboratory facilities.

“When this building was constructed, it was a pretty decent space,” Tan said. “But it was pretty much a space with a roof.”

Now much more than “a space with a roof,” the Center for Agricultural Development raises the ceiling of possibilities for CAFNR students. Daniel Bonacker, a senior agricultural systems management major and president of the ASM Club, described the enrichment provided to students by the new laboratories and equipment.

“We are using the new space to gain experience and to gain more hands-on skills,” Bonacker said. “We are becoming better prepared for real-world tasks and challenges outside the classroom.”

The University of Missouri, through collaboration with ADM and agriculture industry partners, is ensuring that the growth of students’ skills and talents outpaces the growth of the global demand for food, fuel and fiber.

Nora Faris

About the Author Nora Faris

From the cornfields to Capitol Hill, from the white farmhouses of mid-Missouri to the White House, I am an ardent advocate for American agriculture. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once remarked, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.” As an agricultural communicator and CAFNR Corner Post staff writer, I look forward to using my pencil (or computer, smartphone, camera and other tools of the journalistic trade) to reveal the challenges and opportunities of the agriculture industry in meaningful ways and bring the cornfield closer to the average consumer.