Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Exploring the research life cycle in Agri-EPI internship

A student’s placement within an agri-tech innovation centre Agri-EPI leads to newfound interests and motivations.

Ichwan Thamin Wiputra, a Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems undergraduate student, recently completed a work placement at the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation (Agri-EPI) Centre.

Despite having the option to travel within the UK or abroad, Mr Wiputra, from Indonesia, chose to seek out a placement in Edinburgh. The Agri-EPI Centre at the University’s campus in Easter Bush, an agricultural technology research centre with the aim to support and enable innovation in agriculture, and liaise between agri-tech researchers, farmers, investors and the UK Government, seemed like the perfect fit.

The company’s work aligns with the student’s interests in the interface of research and policy.

To aid in Agri-EPI’s mission to bridge the gap between government and industry, Mr Wiputra spent his three-week placement independently working on a project to develop an online tool mapping the research cycle, from conception to completion.  

During this placement, the student was able to produce a valuable output for Agri-EPI and gained valuable connections in the industry.

Working independently

Following the growing trend of hybrid work, the student split his time between working from home, and working in the offices at the Agri-EPI Centre three times a week.

Mr Wiputra worked closely within the project management team to develop a web tool in the form of an online platform that would allow project managers to track the research process step by step.

In order to understand how each team would best benefit from the platform, the student spoke to several departments handling business development, contracts, project delivery and communications, as well as to the project managers themselves.

This result is set to be used as an internal tool for several teams working on a research project to reconvene and keep track of the progress. The tool automatically divides each project in five key stages, mapping out the research life cycle from the planning phase to the project’s initial release, delivery, and dissemination.

“I think it’s a potentially useful tool, and despite only having three weeks, I’m happy that I managed to develop a framework which can be implemented to facilitate the research process,” Mr Wiputra explains.

The student’s work also involved visiting three farms around Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders to engage with and understand the farmers’ perspectives, and observe the implementation of technologies such as robotic milkers, feed mixers and water troughs facilitated by Agri-EPI. “It was a lot of fun looking at the technology in action,” he says.

I really appreciated the culture of this company. People were encouraged to be efficient at their own pace instead of feeling rushed. I learned that I definitely work best when not under pressure, and knowing that I have control over how I carry out my own tasks. I also really enjoyed visiting their farms. They felt very welcoming and accommodating, that was a very nice experience.

Ichwan Thamin WiputraUndergraduate Student

Niche industry

Exploring new industries can lead to unexpected discoveries and new passions. For Mr Wiputra, speaking to the legal department within Agri-EPI was a highlight. The student discovered an interest in the world of intellectual property rights (IPR) and how it intersects with agri-tech and policy.

“I gained a new understanding of the importance of language and attention to detail in writing contracts,” he says, “and realised I would like to hold a detail-oriented role like this in my future career.”

Mr Wiputra highlights the importance of keeping an open mind when trying new experiences, as it can lead to exciting opportunities. This interaction, he says, also showcases the value of networking with professionals in various fields and gaining a deeper understanding of the different roles and responsibilities within a company.

The student remarks that this experience has not only opened doors to possible future career paths, but has also helped him build momentum and a newfound motivation to keep up with his university coursework.

I notice I have built discipline, and I was able to retain it. That’s very important to me.

Ichwan Thamin WiputraUndergraduate Student