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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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July 8, 2015

Charling Combines Farming with Big Data

To say Kurtis Charling from Oakland, Nebraska, is outstanding in his field, you have to know exactly which field he is talking about. Growing up on the family farm, he used his knowledge of corn and soybean fields as an agricultural engineering major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to learn about crop production efficiency. After graduation in 2012, he began working on his MBA at the College of Business Administration and is using a new field – big data – to advance his research in the agriculture industry.

“I grew up on a family farm and came to UNL so I could improve farming operations in general,” Charling said. “I decided to get my MBA in order to not only advance in my career but to cultivate the largest industry in this state.”

Wanting to stay in Nebraska, he joined Valmont Industries as a senior product support specialist after he graduated. His focus was on machine design where he tested new and existing products. He was also able to develop computer programs for tracking and analyzing product issues as well as testing results. While at Valmont he started taking online MBA courses.

“There are not a lot of opportunities in Nebraska for ag engineers so I decided to take my analytical skills to the next level,” he said. “When I started researching MBA programs, Nebraska was the logical choice for me. Being able to take courses online while working full-time was a great benefit because I could work on my classes on my own time and my own schedule.”

Kurtis Charling at CBA
Kurtis Charling at CBA
In 2014, he decided to work on his MBA full-time. As a result, he currently works as a graduate assistant in CBA for Dr. Tammy Beck, associate dean and associate professor of management. This has allowed Charling to hone his data analysis and computer programming skills. One of his major projects is developing an interactive MBA user template which lays out the course schedule as well as designing a program to assign courses in CBA to optimize enrollment. He also assists Beck with her academic research.

“I could not ask for a better graduate assistant than Kurtis,” said Beck. “He has assisted me with several projects by analyzing data and writing computer programs to make us more efficient as a college. He always exceeds my expectations with his attention to detail and the quality of his work. He is an asset to me and to CBA.”

Charling will graduate with his MBA in December with a finance emphasis. He plans to stay in Nebraska, but he is uncertain which direction his next career move will be.

“After I graduate, I will have several directions I can take my career. I am currently involved in two startups, an agricultural technology related business and one in security. I plan to be more involved with both,” he said. “Another option I may pursue is a Ph.D. in finance. I feel like finance is a field that relates to any industry, particularly agriculture. I want to keep all my options open.”