Georgia Tech Research Institute spacer Agricultural Technology Research Program


The Need for Exploratory Applied Research


As manager of the Agricultural Technology Research Program (ATRP), I am very excited to present to you the research portfolio highlighted in this electronic edition of our PoultryTech newsletter. ATRP’s vision is to be the technology innovation and development provider that enables Georgia to be recognized as the undisputed leader in poultry, agribusiness, and food processing. This year’s slate of research projects once again seeks to fulfill this vision and to continue ATRP’s long tradition of serving the poultry industry by developing innovative solutions for the many challenging issues associated with production and processing.

Our yearly research program begins with a Call for Research Proposals. An internal review committee with input from an external poultry industry advisory committee then selects projects. This combined review process ensures the projects are relevant to industry’s current and future needs and that the concepts and solutions being developed are based on sound engineering and scientific principles. The projects are then classified into two categories:  full-scale research projects and exploratory research projects.

Full-scale research efforts are larger, more involved research activities that clearly address a common industry need. They require the participation of multiple researchers from varied backgrounds to work as a team on a focused technology or research effort. In addition to the faculty and students within ATRP, many of the full-scale research projects leverage the expertise of the academic and research faculty from the greater Georgia Tech community as well as from the University of Georgia. This has enabled ATRP to sponsor research efforts in a broad array of technology areas ranging from automation and robotics to worker safety and food safety (see companion article for a listing of the six full-scale research topics).

Several years ago we started looking at the pipeline of research topics and realized we needed a mechanism to test and evaluate some of our unproven research ideas, and so we added exploratory projects to the ATRP research portfolio. The goal of an exploratory research project is to quickly evaluate the merit of an idea that is somewhat untested and therefore higher “risk.”  Researchers were directed to distill down proposed research topics and identify and address just those critical steps or unproven technology components that would be the determining factors in the success of the proposed approach. If significant progress could be demonstrated in these critical bottleneck areas during the exploratory research effort, then they could be elevated in the future years to full-scale research projects.

This process has already been successful in helping the research teams prove out ideas, as several of the exploratory projects have evolved into full-scale efforts. This year we have our largest slate of exploratory research projects yet, with nine efforts ranging from automated robotic cone loading to ultrasonics for disinfection (see companion article for a full listing of topics). As the program manager, this is very encouraging as it demonstrates the ATRP researchers’ commitment to continue innovating and generating novel ideas for tackling some of the poultry industry’s key challenges. We certainly hope that you will join us in pushing technological boundaries, seeking solutions, and identifying those opportunities that best serve the industry as a whole and make for a viable industry in the future.

Doug Britton, Ph.D.
ATRP Program Manager

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