At the beginning, agri-food engineering consisted in engineering work applied to rural practices. The mains tasks were hence directly achieved on farms. Some decades later, family farms became medium- to large-scale businesses integrated in a global market rapidly expanding. The technological advances now allow the consumer to count on a diversity of products all year long.
The career in agri-food engineering also evolved to follow the growth of the sector as agri-food engineers are present in different areas. The multidisciplinary education received by agri-food engineers, especially in environment, allows them to work outside of usual fields and to be leaders in sustainable development. This general perspective of engineering prepares them better than other engineers to accomplish all the aspects of a project. Although agri-food engineers are specialists to design and manage technical solutions to problems related to the environment, agri-food sector or world ecosystem, their versatility, global vision and particular expertise of sustainable development can bring them to overcome challenges in the other fields of engineering.
A proof of this evolution is the changes in the designation of university programs and professional associations in agri-food engineering. In Canada, most of programs are now called Biosystems or Bioresource Engineering instead of the traditional Agricultural Engineering. Any reference to agriculture have disappeared. It is the same thing for the Canadian Society for Bioengineering (CSBE). American universities also made changes whereas most programs include agricultural and biological terms such as in Agricultural and Biological Engineering or Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. Similarly, the international association is now named the International Commission of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (CIGR).
Finally, the job of agri-food engineer makes big steps forward. Constrained to the farm in the past, it is now present anywhere there is a need to solve an engineering problem containing a biological side. Given the versatility of agri-food engineers, there is almost no limit to what they can accomplish. Agri-food engineering is therefore a unique and multidisciplinary career that opens the doors to multiple possibilities.