The Mechanized Systems Management program can prepare students for a wide range of careers in agriculture and related industries. Examples of some of these opportunities include test engineer and technician for equipment manufacturers in a wide range of fields such as farm machinery, irrigation systems, lawn-care systems, grain handling systems, operations manager for grain elevators, co-ops and processing facilities, farm and ranch managers, farm equipment dealer, equipment manager for food processing plants, marketing and sales representative for equipment distributors, crop-production consultants, product sales and support managers for agri-based industries, or energy use advisors.
Examples of companies that have hired Mechanized Systems Management graduates in recent years are Conagra, Cargill, ADM, AGCO, CNH, CLAAS, T&L, Lindsay Irrigation, and Exmark. Additionally, about a third of our graduates opt for entrepreneurial careers in production agriculture.
In addition to University and College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) scholarships, MSYM majors are eligible for a wide range of scholarships awarded by the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. In fact, the department awards almost $50,000 dollars annually in scholarships to students from all three majors in the department. Scholarships are awarded based on academic performance, leadership and involvement, or financial need. Some of these scholarships are restricted by donors to students with specific academic interests. Your academic advisor will have more information on these scholarships.
On average, about 20-25 students graduate every year with a degree in Mechanized Systems Management.
MSYM graduates routinely have the highest starting salaries in CASNR. Based on 2009-2010 surveys conducted by UNL Career Services, the average and median salaries for MSYM graduates were $51,211 and $45,000, respectively.
Absolutely, one of the strengths of this major is the emphasis on practical hands-on learning. Most of the courses in the major have laboratory sections were students get to work with electrical systems, engines, hydraulic systems, control systems, etc.
While both majors are technical in nature, engineering degrees emphasize design whereas Mechanized Systems Management emphasizes the technical, operational, and economic aspects of managing engineered systems.
Since the Mechanized Systems Management coursework emphasizes hands-on experience, students are provided access to modern, well-equipped laboratories for electrical and hydraulic systems, irrigation systems and product processing systems. The Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory is a feature unique to UNL. Students in the MSYM major have an opportunity to work part-time at the Tractor Test Laboratory and gain practical experience with testing a wide variety of machinery. Additionally, students who work at the Tractor Test Laboratory routinely interact with representatives from leading equipment manufacturers which is a tremendous networking opportunity for future careers. A complete list of all the facilities in the department can be found here.
I’ve heard that it is common for students transfer into Mechanized Systems Management from engineering programs. Why is that?
The reason for this is that it takes some students a few semesters in college to identify their interests and find an appropriate major. Most of the students who transfer into the program from engineering are interested in working in a technical area. However, they envision a more hands-on career with an emphasis on managing equipment systems rather than designing them. Many of the engineering students who transfer into the program select the technical option of the degree program.
There are few standards in the titles of entry-level industry positions. Some companies need individuals responsible for testing equipment and therefore advertise for positions such as “test technicians” or “test engineers.” So, even with a degree in MSYM, the job title might contain the word engineer.
Is Mechanized Systems Management the major for me if I am not interested in a career in agriculture?
Given the role of agriculture in Nebraska, many of the companies that hire MSYM graduates are agriculture related. This includes manufacturers of agricultural equipment and grain processing companies. However, there are companies, such as Valmont, that have hired MSYM graduates. These companies have a diversified business portfolio that includes structures, utilities, coatings, tubings, irrigation systems, etc. Within these broad group of employers, MSYM graduates find themselves in a wide variety of positions that range from equipment testing, operations management, and sales and marketing. While many of our students do have an agricultural background, the number of students from non-agricultural backgrounds and from urban areas is increasing. The reason for this is the broad range of careers potentially available to students in Mechanized Systems Management.
Typically, most of our students have a job offer prior to graduation.
The majority of our students participate in at least one internship during their degree program. Many of these students choose to get academic credit for these internships. In the summer of 2011, MSYM students interned with organizations such as Cargill, AGCO, Pioneer, and University of Nebraska Extension. There are numerous study abroad opportunities for MSYM majors. The most popular opportunities are short-term study abroad (2-3 weeks). Student can also use study abroad programs to meet their ACE 10 requirements. For more information on CASNR study abroad opportunities, contact the CASNR Dean's Office (103 Agricultural Hall, 402-472-2201) or UNL’s Office of International Affairs can provide information on campus-wide study abroad programs.