American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

Quicklinks Login
Go Forgot Username/Password?


ASABE Student Manual

This manual has been prepared to assist in the formation and operation of student branches. It also will serve existing branches in recruiting, planning constructive programs and exchanging ideas with others. In general, the manual presents ideas that should increase branch activity and provide greater benefits to the student members. It contains most of the information regarding awards, reports and rules needed during the year by student engineering branches and student mechanization branches.

The Society has no desire to dictate how branches should operate. The students and student branch sponsors always have shown great ingenuity in planning their activities. The development of initiative and originality is one of the major benefits to participants.

History Of ASABE And Its Student Organizations
About 1900, a few people of understanding caught a vision of the demand the 20th century would bring for professionals with an understanding of and an appreciation for engineering needed in agricultural production. There were 17 charter members at the founding meeting of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers in 1907. Since that time, the organization has increased steadily in prestige and value to its members and to the public. Recognizing the need for establishing university-level clubs for students enrolled in agricultural engineering or related curricula; the Society authorized the formation of student branches.

A committee was appointed at the Annual Meeting in 1909 to recommend amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws of the ASABE to provide for the establishment of student branches. At the following Annual Meeting in 1910, the Society approved a petition from 18 students at Iowa State College for permission to organize a student branch.

From this early beginning, the student branches have progressed with the development of the Society and agricultural engineering education. A membership directory published in 1921 shows seven student branches with a total of 142 student branch members. The Society's regular membership at the time was only 553. By way of comparison, today there are over 40 student engineering branches, one at practically every school offering recognized professional training in agricultural and biological engineering.

The agricultural mechanization curriculum was developed using much of the same technology as agricultural engineering and so student mechanization clubs were authorized by the Society in 1969 to aid in the professional development of these students. In 1987 the name was changed to mechanization branches. The 1970 Yearbook shows one club; by contrast, today there are over 30 student mechanization branches.

Many of the early student members have long since advanced to positions of leadership in the profession and the Society. They have distinguished themselves as primary factors in the progress of their profession.

Based on this record of achievement, the Society counts heavily on its present student membership and activities to provide the central nucleus of its future leadership, activities and progress. The outlook for the future is that activities of the student groups will be of increasing importance to ASABE in many of the emerging areas of interest such as food engineering and biological systems engineering.

Why Join A Student Branch?
The following are reasons why students decide to participate in ASABE Student Engineering Branches or Student Mechanization Branches

  1. Meet other students with similar professional goals -- many will become co-workers and life-long friends.
  2. Learn more about the professions of engineers outside the classroom -- what it will be like after graduation.
  3. Gain leadership experience -- so vital to success in life.
  4. Become better acquainted with faculty members and section leaders.
  5. Participate in local and national functions of the Society.
  6. Learn more about job prospects and meet persons from business, government and other universities.
  7. For fun and fellowship.

Why Join ASABE?
Student membership in ASABE is often confused with membership in the campus student engineering branch or student mechanization branch. "Student Member" is the classification of the Society applied to students holding membership in the international organization. Students pay $22.00 annual dues to the Society. They receive the Society's membership publication, Resource magazine, and a membership card. There are other privileges of ASABE membership that do not apply to local branch membership.

  1. Eligibility for the Society sponsored awards.
  2. Receipt of the Annual International Meeting program.
  3. Discounts for meeting registration.
  4. Discounts on publications.
  5. The right to vote and hold office in the section.
  6. Receipt of section newsletters, programs, and other mailings.
  7. Transfer to full ASABE membership upon graduation without paying admission fees and without paying annual dues for the balance of the year of graduation.
  8. Two years of membership immediately following graduation at $35.00 per year, if requested, with current address sent to the ASABE office.
  9. The privilege of belonging to an organization with high professional and ethical standards dedicated to the advancement of the agricultural, food, and biological engineering professions.

Student membership in ASABE brings the students closer to the profession and serves to acquaint them with the people and the work of their future.

Role of ASABE Headquarters

  • Coordinates the Student Organizations Committee, ASABE Student Engineer of the Year Scholarship, the Adams Scholarship Grant, The Merriam Scholarship and the ASABE Foundation Scholarship. ASABE also oversees the AEM Trophies Competition, the K.K. Barnes Student Paper Awards Competition, the AGCO National Student Design Competition, the Preprofessional Design Project Poster Session Competition, the International ΒΌ Scale Tractor Student Design Competition, the Environmental Design Student Competition (both Open Format and Fountain Wars), the Stewart Engineering Humanities Award and the Graduate Student Research Award.
  • Help plan the Annual International Meeting for the National Council of Student Engineering Branches and the National Council of Student Mechanization Branches. Arrange housing for students attending these national meetings.
  • Sponsor the ASABE Student Honor Award, Student-Mile Award for attendance at the ASABE Annual International Meeting
  • Maintain professional membership records for all grades of members.
  • Help organize new branches at colleges and universities.
  • Process subscriptions for publications.
  • Provide a manual to guide officers in branch operations.
  • Assist branches in scheduling speakers representing ASABE.

Student Officers - Their Duties
As an officer of your student engineering branch or student mechanization branch, you should strive to justify the confidence placed in you by fulfilling the obligation to the best of your ability. Above all, remember that the office was awarded you by the ballot of your associates; they look to you for leadership, not orders.

The president must set the pace for the members and create an atmosphere of enthusiasm and dispatch. In addition, the president:

  • must maintain control of the meeting at all times;
  • must anticipate problems, projects and situations that might arise and be prepared to cope with them;
  • should maintain close contact with other officers and committee chairs in order to see that they are active;
  • should give credit where credit is due;
  • should arrange for one or two "special" programs or projects to distinguish their term from the ordinary. The experience gained will serve them well in later years.

The vice president should be prepared to serve for the president at all times. This person should keep fully advised of all committees and activities so that a meeting may proceed normally with the president absent. The vice president usually serves as program chair and also helps the president check on committee activities. The vice president, too, must indicate by example the spirit of achievement that will determine the accomplishments of the branch.

The secretary should be the parliamentarian and keep the president and others at all times within the bylaws and rules of the branch. This person should see that records of their branch are reported promptly and accurately to ASABE headquarters, that their members are duly recorded in records of the Society and that the branch is aware of all awards, honors or recognition's available.

The treasurer should see that all dues are collected, recorded and disbursed with accuracy and dispatch. The records should be legible, complete and clear to all. The treasurer should comply with the requirements of the school relative to finances of student organizations, as well as the bylaws and rules of the branch.

The scribe should see that the activities of the branch are accurately and thoroughly covered by local radio, television, newspaper and magazines. Typed reports, colorfully written, playing up the dramatic and unusual features of the meetings, are more apt to capture the eye of an editor.

Committee chairs are responsible for the individual projects of the branch. Good chairs inspire successful projects and a record of accomplishment; disinterested chairs can spoil the record of a branch. No organization will accomplish much without active, working committees.

A Recruiting Program
Since part of the strength of any organization is the number of members, every ASABE Student Branch should make a determined effort to enroll all those who are eligible. The activities of a student branch are more enjoyable, better, and more easily accomplished when members work together.

Prospects should be encouraged to join the Society as student members as well as the local student branch. The two memberships supplement one another. The publications of the Society, which go to student members, help maintain the student's interest in local student organization affairs.

How should a recruiting campaign be planned and conducted? The following procedures have been used successfully:

  1. The president of the branch appoints a recruiting committee and assigns it no other responsibility.
  2. This committee meets, preferably with the president and the faculty advisor and reviews carefully the benefits of membership. Each member of the committee must be familiar with all the material available that shows the advantages of membership.
  3. The chair of the committee should obtain a list of all the students eligible for affiliation. All who are not members should be urged to join. The names are divided among the committee members who are given membership applications and pertinent literature.
  4. The campaign should be concentrated and completed in a short period of time. Committee members should work simultaneously. Follow up on all who postpone decision and collect completed membership forms from those who join.
  5. The drive must be carefully timed. It should be early enough to give the new members benefit of the entire year's program. It should not take place when there is another important activity on the campus that will detract from the attention desired and deserved. An especially good meeting should follow shortly after the close of the drive. At this gathering it is a courtesy to recognize in some manner those meeting with the branch for the first time.

These suggestions should be modified to meet local situations. The important thing to remember is that results will depend upon how well the drive is organized and the degree of personal contact used in the campaign.

Program Planning
No matter how lofty the ideals and objectives of an organization, there will be little benefit to or interest among its members unless it has a strong program. All programs should be planned to hold interest and to benefit the profession and the individual members.

The number of meetings varies with the different branches but averages 10 to 12 per year. Usually semimonthly meetings are common with no meetings scheduled close to holidays or final examinations.

Several branches have found success in making the first meeting of the school year a student-staff party. All students in the department, especially new students and staff members, are encouraged to attend. Only a short program need be planned but the importance of joining the branch should be stressed to first time attendees and membership application forms distributed. The rest of the evening can be spent with social activities and refreshments.

One of the more frequently used types of programs is a talk by a guest speaker. Usually the guest selects a technical subject although other topics are also popular. Typical of these topics are discussions on how to obtain a position, what industry expects of a graduate, and the professional and economic status of agricultural, food, and biological professionals. Many times the speakers are from the university in which the branch is located, but frequently they are Society officers or come from other schools, industries or government agencies. Usually a visitor is a better attraction than one of those with whom the students associate regularly. Generally, the speaker selects his own topic and liberal amount of time is allowed for questions. The latter is of great importance, for it is through these discussions that students get the specific information they want. Guest speakers stimulate interest and helps to maintain a high attendance percentage.

Programs in which members of the branch speak are quite popular and beneficial. Usually more than one student takes part in such programs. It is common for students to report on their summer work if they have been employed in engineering capacities.

Joint meetings with other campus organizations can be stimulating and successful. Other engineering or mechanization groups are appropriate cooperators. Joint meetings with ASABE sections are an important way to meet professionals and learn of career opportunities. Plan these with your section/student coordinator.

Most branches have at least two social meetings annually. Picnics or outings are the most popular. Dances, group attendance at athletic events and bowling parties also have been scheduled. Many branches arrange recognition banquets or dinners. Such affairs usually are held near the end of the school year.

Visits to industrial plants are enjoyable and bring the opportunities and challenges of the profession closer to the student. Most branches arrange one or more of these each year.

The following table summarizes what may be considered a typical annual program of a typical branch.

Type of Meeting Month
Get Acquainted Party September
Executive Committee October
Meeting and Guest Speaker October
Meeting and Guest Speaker November
Meeting and Guest Speaker December
Meeting and Election of Officers January
Meeting and Guest Speaker February
Meeting and Film March
Meeting and Guest Speaker April
Spring Banquet (members, staff and guests) April
Meeting and Guest Speaker May
Meeting and Election of Officers May
Spring Picnic May

Branches should conduct their meetings according to Robert's Rules of Order, but meetings are informal to encourage participation of members. Usually a meeting is called to order by the president, the minutes of the last meeting are read and the officers and committee chairs give progress reports. The meeting is then opened for old and new business, after which the special program or speaker for the evening is introduced. Time is allowed for questions and discussion after the program. The meeting is then closed and refreshments served.

Attempts are made to hold short meetings. Usually the entire meeting, program and refreshments take only one and one-half hours. This is done so students can return to their studies. Short business meetings can be accomplished by taking care of detailed plans, development of new ideas, etc. and by holding executive meetings before each branch meeting.

Local situations and interest influence what can be carried out most efficiently. The program each year should:

  1. Provide variety.
  2. Permit student participation.
  3. Offer the inspiration of guest speakers.
  4. Include meetings that are educational and social.
  5. Make sure meetings are sufficiently large and diversified to maintain the interest of the members.

Keep meetings moving according to schedule and begin and end on time.

Transfer From Student Member To Full ASABE Membership
Upon graduation, student members of ASABE may receive a discounted membership rate of $35.00 per year for the two years following graduation. The faculty advisor shall certify the student's graduation date and students must provide ASABE headquarters with their current address. The student member status is then changed to student transfer. Student discount applies only if the graduation year's dues are paid and the change of address card is returned.

Forming A New Student Engineering Or Mechanization Branch
The procedure for forming a new student engineering branch or student mechanization branch of ASABE is relatively simple. On receiving a petition carrying a satisfactory number (at least ten) of student members, the Membership Development Council of ASABE will authorize the organization of a student engineering branch or student mechanization branch.

Application For Student Membership
New student members must complete a Student Application. Applications are normally completed in the fall of the year and cover the following year.

If previously a member, a dues invoice will be sent in October.

On the application form for new student members, there are two items that must be correctly completed to avoid errors in service. It is especially important that if the student was previously a member, that the student indicates that fact. Secondly, it is important for the student branch advisor to know the anticipated graduation date so that students can be transferred to full member status.

Many graduating students are "lost" to the Society because they have indicated that they are going to continue in graduate school but do not. Thus, the student is carried the balance of the year as a student member instead of a full member. Be sure to advise the ASABE headquarters of every change in a student's status and make sure address changes are reported.


ASABE's Latest On Twitter