College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Grace Bjustrom: Outstanding senior in agricultural engineering

Grace Bjustrom


Eldridge, Iowa 

Clubs and activities 

Over the past four years, I have served as a peer mentor and as a student member of the curriculum committee for the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department. I have also been involved in the American Society of Agricultural & Biological Engineers Student Chapter, the SALT Company Ministry, and the North Scott FFA Boosters. 

Hands-on learning in class 

One of the most valuable hands-on experiences was in my CAN Bus class (ABE 410), which teaches how tractors, cars, boats and several pieces of instrumentation communicate with each other. The knowledge I learned from this course I was able to apply in my summer internship and become the CAN Bus expert on the team. 

Out-of-the-classroom engineering experience 

I feel that all my experiences outside the classroom have been pivotal in developing myself into a well-rounded individual. Participation in student organizations has helped me grow in my leadership, event management, communication and professional development. I was also able to intern with John Deere for three summers, which helped me gain real-world engineering knowledge, technical skills, hands-on experiences, team building, and management skills. Through those experiences, I have been exposed to the day-to-day work of an engineer in manufacturing, product testing and product design. This assisted me in determining and learning where my true passions lie. 

Most influential mentor 

I have had several individuals who have helped advise me throughout my time at Iowa State. Matthew Darr has been a mentor of mine since my freshman year when he first asked me if I would consider completing a master’s program within the ABE department. As a freshman, I had initially thought I would not want to stay in college longer than I had to, but here I am, three years later, extending my stay at Iowa State to pursue my master’s with his Digital Ag Team. Dr. Darr and Dr. Bailey Adams have both been very instrumental in mentoring me throughout my bachelor’s and creating a path for me to pursue my master’s and apprenticeship. 

Greatest accomplishment at Iowa State 

I was blessed with being successful academically during my engineering degree, but what I will take away from college is not my GPA but rather my knowledge, friendships and memories. My favorite memories were at ASABE and SALT events, football games and hanging out with friends around Ames. My college experience and memories were not made alone, and I am grateful for all the friends who made my college experience so memorable. 

Plans after graduation 

After graduation, I plan on continuing my education at Iowa State to obtain my master’s in agricultural engineering with the Digital Ag Team. 

Making my mark on the world 

Before coming to college, I aspired to become an engineer who could help put more food on the table with less land due to our growing world population. This aspiration remains true to this day. I now feel I have the knowledge and network to move towards that goal. Ultimately, I plan to be a part of the ag industry and work for a company that holds the same values as mine. Whether my name is known by the world or not, I know that I want to make a difference in my community and workplace. Small things can make a huge difference. 

Engineering like a Cyclone Engineer 

As Tim Shepard, an ABE department professor, states, “Learning is cumulative.” This is a quote I have held onto because I believe this is true to life and true to Cyclone Engineering. Iowa State provides its engineering students fantastic in-the-classroom and outside-the-classroom opportunities to compound their engineering knowledge.  

Specifically, I feel that the ABE department provides ag and biosystems engineers with a unique experience compared to other engineering majors on campus and at other universities. Our ABE department has the dynamic of a big family that walks alongside each and every student to help them get through life and college. This allows us to make lifelong friends, connections and career opportunities. The ABE department is also nationally ranked in providing its students with the best learning experiences and research opportunities.  

I feel privileged to have been a part of this amazing department and to learn in such a great facility with fantastic professors and staff. Not only in the ABE department but in all the Iowa State engineering departments, I found that professors do not just see you as a number. They truly care about your success and will do anything to help you succeed in your education and future career. With all the skills and knowledge I have gained from my experience at Iowa State, I feel well-equipped for the industry and proud to be known as a Cyclone Engineer.