Agribusiness students are reaping the benefits of donated equipment that will enhance their learning experience at Allan Hancock College. Soilmoisture Equipment Corporation, a Goleta-based company with services around the world, donated nearly $10,000 in labor and materials to repurpose equipment gifted to the college last fall by a private donor.
“The equipment looks and functions like it is practically brand new,” said agribusiness instructor Eric Shiers. “The donation helps to ensure students will continue to receive a hands-on education with real world applications.”
The research-quality equipment, worth an estimated $70,000, includes two trase time domain reflectometers (TDR) and three pressure plates. A TDR sends a signal down a cable into the soil to determine the moisture level of the soil. The timer in the machine measures in picoseconds, which is one-trillion of a second. The pressure plates simulate and measure water content in soil at different degrees of dryness.
“Students will be able to find more efficient uses of irrigation water, which is particularly relevant given the on-going drought conditions,” said Shiers. The company also trained Shiers to use and maintain the equipment.
Hancock is one of two colleges or universities to which Soilmoisture Equipment, a global company founded nearly 50 years ago, has donated labor or resources. The other beneficiary is Cal Poly.
“I firmly believe in doing whatever I can to get students, at any age, a hands-on learning experience,” said Soilmoisture President Whitney Skaling. “Hancock is teaching students the right way, and I will support the college any way I can.”
Skaling said more local companies should donate their resources to Hancock. “It truly is a win-win because students receive a better education and companies receive better employees.”
A company spokesperson also praised Hancock for its focus on increasing interest among students in the science fields.
“Hands-on learning, especially in the science fields, is essential to technology-based companies,” said international sales and marketing manager Megan Cullen, whose daughter received her degree from Hancock.
The college hopes to foster its relationship with Soilmoisture, inviting the company to take part in future Career Exploration Day and STEM Career Fair events. Hancock’s STEM program focuses on attracting more students to careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).