Hey all! My name is Paul Thieme, and I am a new master’s student at Purdue University in the department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. I’m working with the OATS group here at Purdue with Jeff (above). My focus is on digital agriculture - specifically methods data collection, processing, and display.
My undergraduate degree is in agricultural machine systems from Purdue. I’ve been working with mechanical systems since I was a kid, since I grew up on a farm in central Indiana. About half way through my undergraduate degree I realized that the way of the future is electronics for agricultural equipment, so I took an internship at John Deere and another at Precision Planting, both focusing on digital agriculture, data collection, and how we can use that data to improve our farming practices.
As far as skills that I bring to GOAT - I’m an avid machinist, an experienced welder, and an expert tinkerer. The foundation of my skill set is largely mechanical at this point, so if you have any fabrication / mechanical / physical questions I would be more than happy to assist. That being said, I am familiar with several programming languages like C++, MATLAB, Python, etc. My senior design project was an autonomous vehicle that used machine vision to detect and terminate weeds in a row-crop field using a sprayer attachment, for the agBot Challenge. I was responsible for the electrical systems on the robot and the programming of the control system so I know my way around a soldering iron and a terminal, too.
Openness in ag is imperative in my view for the purpose of agricultural education. I was an FFA (the organization previously known as the Future Farmers of America) member in high school and I learned that most people are very uninformed about not only where their food comes from, but how our agricultural industry works. I believe that it’s important that we develop systems that allow people to see what’s going on in agriculture. Sure, these new developments in technology are going to be incredibly useful to farmers and other agriculturalists, but they will also help show - visually - how we farm and the different things that farmers need to know in order to ensure a productive farm.
Also open source projects are awesome. I’m an amateur radio operator (ham radio) and we use other people’s open source projects all the time. We adapt them to suit our purposes and in that way we create new and better ways of doing things. In the same way, I think we can spur on all kinds of innovations in agriculture by keeping our work open.
Excited for GOAT and to get more involved in open ag!