Student perceptions of the public image of agricultural engineering and their preferred name for the discipline and title degree

Linus U. Opara*, Seif S. Al-Adawi, Talal S. Al-Shukeili

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


During the past decade, there has been a worldwide debate on the future of Agricultural Engineering education. In a previous paper, we discussed the historical evolution of and curriculum reforms in agricultural engineering (AE) education at Sultan Qaboos University. Some of the significant changes implemented during the last decade have included renaming the department and degree major, and restructuring the curriculum to meet ABETs minimum requirements for professional accreditation. Our objective in the present article is to assess students' perceptions on several issues affecting the future of agricultural engineering education, especially the factors which influence its attractiveness to students. Our results show that the majority of students perceived the public profile of AE and public understanding of the role of AE in society to be very low. The poor image of agricultural engineering was mostly attributed to its association with agriculture (74%) rather than engineering (26%). The majority of students expressed a preference for a degree name that includes 'Engineering' or 'Technology' rather than 'Agriculture' or 'Science'. The low appeal of names connected with biology among the students was attributed to the high esteem accorded to the engineering profession in society and also a strong connection made by students between engineering and 'machines' and between engineering and maths/physics, instead of engineering and biology. Students also suggested practical steps to enhance the image, visibility and appeal of AE among students through targeted promotional campaigns and community outreach programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-66
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number1 PART I
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Agricultural engineering student perceptions
  • Image surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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