If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a hands-on demonstration is worth 10 times that. That’s how Dr. Franklin Gaudi, lecturer for the BioResource and Ag Engineering department and project manager for the Irrigation Training and Research Center at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, California, describes the impact that direct exposure to equipment has on students’ abilities to learn new practices.
For example, Gaudi notes the following about a demonstration unit of a sand media filtration system that was provided in late 2015 by Yardney Water Filtration Systems in Riverside, California.
“So far, we’ve used the unit four or five times in our university classes,” he says. “We demonstrate how the actual tanks in the field backflush and we can draw it on a board, but there is nothing quite like seeing it happen via the glass demo unit. It ties concepts together for the students. We’ll use it more in upcoming classes.
“The biggest advantage is that we can demonstrate how the proper flow rate can effectively flush the debris from the sand bed, compared to an excessively high flow rate that expels the sand from the tank, or too low of a flow rate which means poor cleaning of the sand caused by the media not lifting properly. This is key.”
It’s not just for current students to use. It helps prospective students make decisions.
“This hands-on demo unit offers a great way to get future students to consider the engineering path, which is why we like to show it to them,” Gaudi says. “Because it’s visual, they understand it. Plus, they see that there are control aspects that require a user interface, which they like.”
The Yardney demo unit is shown alongside many other donated pieces of equipment each year during the university’s open house for industry partners, current and prospective students and parents.
Others can take the demo for a test run, as well. The ITRC team uses it during Cal Poly drip design classes for irrigation professionals.
“This aligns with our support for continuing education,” Chris Phillips, Yardney President, says. “We offer educational sessions each year during World Ag Expo.”
Ongoing education efforts are integral to staying abreast of the latest developments in agriculture overall, not just filtration technology.
“It is important that we stay current with the latest technology, or even a step ahead of it,” Gaudi says. “We rely on the agricultural industry to help provide us with new demo units to support our efforts. Students tend to remember equipment they used in classes. This means they go to these familiar suppliers when it comes time to buy or recommend a product or service once they’re out of school.
“We’re fortunate to have industry partners who recognize this and support us by sharing their latest equipment and technology. It’s a win-win for Cal Poly, our students, agriculture and ultimately, consumers.”