Assistant Teaching Professor-Agricultural Structures and Soil-Water Conservation Practices

The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, MD
United States
Job Description


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The Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University invites applications for an ASSISTANT TEACHING PROFESSOR in agricultural structures and soil-water best management practices teaching and Extension/outreach. This non-tenure-track faculty position will be filled as an Assistant Teaching Professor on a 48-week academic year appointment, with 75% Extension and 25% Teaching responsibilities. Integration of Extension and Teaching efforts for effective transfer of information to stakeholders is essential. The position will be funded by the College of Agricultural Sciences ( through PA Department of Agriculture under the partnership developed for the creation of Center for Agricultural Conservation Assistance Training at Penn State Extension (The Center). The successful faculty member will be residing in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. The Center provides education, outreach, and technical assistance to Conservation Professionals working at Conservation Districts, State and Federal Agencies, Non-Profit Organizations, and Private Businesses throughout Pennsylvania as part of the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program and in coordination with other ag conservation cost-share programs and partners. This is a term position funded for one year from date of hire with good possibility of refunding. 

We seek an outstanding candidate with demonstrated interests, ability, and accomplishments in planning, researching, developing, designing and disseminating solutions (through innovative Extension/outreach programs) in the areas of agricultural structures and soil-water conservation practices. Desired expertise needed includes demonstrated background and expertise (or desire to learn) in designing, implementing, and maintaining agricultural conservation practices and agricultural structures, which include but not limited to waste storage facilities, mortality composting facilities, agrochemical handling, heavy-use area protection, off-stream watering systems, and in-field practices and structures such as waterways, diversions, terraces, etc., soil quality (health) practices; best agronomic practices that result in high productivity and production efficiency and improved farm net return; soil, water and crop management practices and technologies, while protecting environmental services.

  • As part of the Extension appointment (75%), the candidate is expected to lead applied demonstration projects and programs, leading workshops, seminars, field days, and field tours for professional development. Working with a team of colleagues from various related disciples, the successful candidate will develop education and outreach materials related to best management practices in Pennsylvania and beyond as part of the nationally recognized Penn State Extension programs. Therefore, the successful candidate should be a collaborative leader who will promote and enhance excellence and innovation in interdisciplinary Extension. The candidate will develop and provide non-credit education to existing conservation professionals in the public and private sectors. Topics will be similar to credit courses in that they will develop critical skills to help design and engineer agricultural conservation best practices. Education activities will include conferences, workshops, webinars, videos, online courses, publications, and news articles. In-person events will occur throughout Pennsylvania, so travel (sometimes overnight) is expected. The candidate will be expected to develop and teach non-credit and two credit courses.

  • For the structural agricultural engineering course (i.e., ABENG- Agricultural Structural Engineering), the vision is to provide the skills and knowledge for our graduates to be able to plan, survey, and design conservation-related structures. That would include lessons on waste storage facilities, mortality composting facilities, agrochemical handling, heavy-use area protection practices, off-stream watering systems, and it could also incorporate in-field practices like waterways, diversions, terraces, etc. For each of these practices, students would learn to identify the need, how to survey for the practice (with hands-on learning experiences), learn the actual construction materials used, how to delineate the watershed for the practice, identity the soils, and other design considerations.

  • For the Conversation Planning for Engineers course (i.e., ABENG-Agricultural and Natural Resources Conservation Engineering), students would learn to inventory resource concerns on farms using aerial photos, GIS tools, and other digital resources and real-world visits. Students would learn to identify best practices to address those resources concerns and properly site them to best serve both the environment and the farmer's needs. This course would also provide skills training on actual construction visits, quality assurance, and inspections. They would potentially develop a plan for a practice and a simulated job diary as a culminating class project.

The faculty member is expected to: (i) develop a nationally and internationally recognized, innovative, high-profile Extension program related to agricultural structures and best management practices solutions; (ii) mentor students in globally diverse, multicultural, transdisciplinary and inclusive research-extension-teaching programs; (iii) develop strong collaborations across campus, Pennsylvania, and the region; (iv) develop programming and resources as part of Penn State Extension activities that will obtain quantifiable impacts. The faculty member will maintain high Extension and education standards and contribute to our positive and engaging Penn State community, including synthesizing and incorporating other research into programming.

Qualifications: Candidate must have a Ph.D. in biological, agricultural, structural, civil, or environmental engineering, or related fields, with a solid core of fundamental engineering coursework. Research, teaching and Extension experience in terms of integrating engineering, biology, agronomy, economics, and natural resources is important because the faculty member is expected to interact and provide leadership with teams of engineers, biological, environmental, plant scientist, agricultural economists, and physical scientists. The faculty member in this position will also be expected to consider scales of local and regional processes, while maintaining global perspectives for addressing solutions. The successful candidate must have completed all degree requirements by the appointment date.

The ability to engage professionally with a diverse population of faculty, staff, and students across Penn State’s multi-campus system is required. Effective communication to provide creative leadership and work cooperatively with students, faculty, staff, industry, and state and federal agency partners is paramount. Demonstrated ability to function in a multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary team environment is required. The person should have the capability to carry out an original, independent, innovative, and nationally visible integrated Extension and teaching programs and activities. It is expected that the faculty member will implement ethics, equity, diversity, and inclusion in all aspects of their work.

The Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) Department: The mission of the ABE department is to promote global sustainability through the engineering science, business, and technical management of biological and agricultural systems. In addition to comprehensive transdisciplinary research, extension, and service activities in bioproducts, food, bioprocessing, natural resource engineering, and agricultural systems, the ABE department supports undergraduate and graduate resident education programs in: Biological Engineering (bachelor’s), Agricultural and Biological Engineering (MS and Ph.D.), and BioRenewable Systems (BS, MS, and Ph.D.), and an interdisciplinary specialization in Environmental Resource Management. For more information about the ABE department, visit

Penn State Extension: Penn State believes that all people should have access to science-based information. Penn State Extension is a modern educational organization dedicated to delivering science-based information to people, businesses, and communities. We provide face-to-face and online education to our customers – when they want it, where they want it, and how they want it – to help them address problems and take advantage of opportunities for improvement and innovation. Partnering with and funded by federal, state, and county governments, we have a long tradition of bringing unbiased support and education to the citizens of Pennsylvania. We make a difference locally through focused engagement, and more widely to customers connecting in the digital landscape. For more information visit

Application: Apply online to job REQ_0000050340 at Applications received by December 21, 2023, will receive full consideration, though search and review will continue until the position is filled. Candidates should provide a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and: 1) statement of extension vision and philosophy; 2) statement of teaching vision and philosophy, and 3) separately or included in the other statements, a commitment towards leading a diverse, inclusive, and equitable program. Statements should include mentoring and collaboration philosophies. The ABE department strives to promote an ethical culture that values diversity and works toward advancing equity, inclusiveness, and social justice across all ABE department missions. Applicants must provide “Reflection on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging” document as part of their application materials, presenting their commitment to fostering diversity, equity, inclusive excellence, ethics, belonging and engagement, and of creating an inclusive environment in their classroom, department, and the University. In the application materials, the candidate should specifically address how they will integrate issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and ethics into candidate's research, teaching and service. Employment will require successful completion of background check(s) in accordance with University policies.

Questions can be directed to the Search Committee Chair Dr. Daniel Ciolkosz ( or Department Head Dr. Suat Irmak (

The Pennsylvania State University is committed to and accountable for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion inall ofits forms.We embrace individual uniqueness, foster a culture of inclusive excellence that supports both broad and specific diversity initiatives, leverage the educational and institutional benefits of diversity, and engage all individuals to help them thrive. We value inclusive excellence as a core strength and an essential element of our public service mission. 


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Employment with the University will require successful completion of background check(s) in accordance with University policies. 


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