Two researchers analyzing data on a computer screen.

Land O’Lakes gift supports student learning and industry studies

Wind tunnel to advance high-tech agriculture studies 

The Department of Mechanical Engineering has a new wind tunnel.

The gift—an 8-foot-tall, 11.5-feetwide, and 23-feet-long wind tunnel—arrived from WinField United, a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O’Lakes. The low-speed subsonic wind tunnel, capable of producing wind speeds of up to 15 miles per hour and simulating the tiny droplets from boom sprays in farm fields, will help both undergraduate and graduate students gain valuable skills and experience in high-tech agriculture research.

It also enables CSE researchers—namely Chris Hogan, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Bernard Olson, director of the Particle Calibration Laboratory—to partner with WinField United on better understanding how to target crop-protection products and prevent over-spraying.

Olson’s former lab assistant, Daniel Bissell (Aerospace Engineering ’10), was responsible for making the corporate gift possible.

Bissel, a senior research engineer at WinField United, had suggested his alma mater. Within days, he was tasked with developing and executing a plan for the long-term collaboration.

“Land O’Lakes and WinField United have long recognized the scientific expertise at the University of Minnesota,” said Bissell.

“My hope with this wind tunnel donation is that Dr. Hogan, Dr. Olson, their colleagues, and students will advance agriculture and enable farmers to get the most out of each acre,” Bissell added.

Land O’Lakes has invested nearly $930,000 in the College of Science and Engineering since 1992. This includes a three-year sponsorship of the Center for Sustainable Polymers to find new uses for skim milk powder.