The undergraduate program in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been ranked number one in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. “Best Colleges 2013” placed Illinois in a tie with Purdue University for the top spot, followed by Iowa State University.

U.S. News ranks undergraduate programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology based solely on the judgments of deans and senior faculty from participating colleges. U.S. News also asks for nominations of the best programs in specialty areas, such as agricultural engineering; those receiving the most mentions are ranked in the publication.

K.C. Ting has been department head of ABE since 2004. “We are in very good company,” said Ting. “We are among the best departments in the nation in our discipline, so being recognized as number one by U.S. News is an honor.”

ABE at Illinois has been ranked in one of the top two spots for the last seven years, including a four-year stint as number one, and Ting acknowledges that “says something” about the department.

“We try to give our students the best education and the most diverse opportunities we’re able to offer. We are very comprehensive,” he said. “Our teaching is student-centered, and many of our engineering courses are project-based. There are excellent opportunities for international study abroad, and we bring exchange students into our student body to provide those kinds of interactions. We do all we can to give our students a complete educational package, not just courses you take to get credit hours and graduate.”

The department is part of two colleges on the Urbana-Champaign campus, the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and the College of Engineering (CoE).

“The strength of ACES and CoE is a tremendous asset to our department,” said Ting. “It helps significantly to be a part of two top colleges on our campus.

“We have a clear vision of what we want to do, and we follow through with that,” he concluded. “We deliver. If the ranking follows, we’re very happy, but our real goal is simply to be a great department.”