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Leading the Pack: John Deere Lunch ‘n’ Learn Hosted By NC State Net Impact

By Ian Hopkins, BSC Associate & B.S. in Business Administration & Marketing (‘19)

NC State’s Net Impact Chapter recently had the pleasure of hosting Sean Weyrich, an Environmental Engineer and Certified Project Management Professional (PMP) at John Deere, for their latest installment of their Lunch ‘n’ Learn series. Sean, who happens to be a NC State alumni, discussed John Deere’s newly established 2022 Sustainability Goals and highlighted their commitment to producing sustainable products and implementing factory initiatives from both a local and global perspective.

John Deere’s 2022 Sustainability Goals can be broken down into 5 succinct categories. The first of which is occupational safety, where they aim to ensure safety excellence through increased focus on leading indicators, risk reduction, health and safety management systems and preventions. The second area is sustainable energy use, more specifically, John Deere aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent through the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency practices. John Deere also knows that a big portion of their environmental footprint comes from water use, so they’d like to responsibly manage that, especially in water-scarce manufacturing locations. The fourth category of their sustainability goals is increased recycling, John Deere is currently aiming to recycle 85 percent of their total waste. The final area of their goals which were highlighted in the event was sustainable products, where they would like to reduce their environmental impact, including CO2e emissions, on 90 percent of new products.

Another focal area of the talk was John Deere’s incredible use of artificial intelligence. One example of this is the use of advanced machine learning algorithms to enable robots to make decisions on whether or not a plant is a pest, and then deliver an accurate, measured blast of chemical pesticides to tackle the unwanted pests. Given that traditionally such decisions are made on a field-by-field basis, rather than plant-by-plant basis, the opportunities for efficiency are clear.

The show out of engaged students for this Lunch ‘n’ Learn was spectacular! One student, Jiayu Lu, wrote that, “[She was] very glad that [she] attended the [event]” especially because it gave her “a better understanding of the big picture of John Deere’s sustainability plan.” After learning about John Deere’s use of data analytics in a wide array of different job functions and areas, another student, CJ Falchi, stated that he was “inspired to continue [his] path in marketing and data analytics.”

As you may be able to tell, the event was a huge success and we extend our greatest gratitude to John Deere and Sean Weyrich! We can’t wait to see what these inspired students will do in the future and the great things to come from John Deere as they reach their sustainability initiatives.