ISU Students Receive National Tech Award for Designing an App for State's Leading Cooperative

by Alicia Heun, (’06 public service and administration in agriculture, journalism and mass communication, ’13 MBA), Landus Cooperative Director of Communications

What started as a summer internship project building a smartphone app to help a local cooperative turned into a globally recognized accomplishment for the return on investment it delivered to the company.

Laura Mincks (senior, Agricultural and Life Sciences Education, Columbus Junction, Iowa), Josh Carlson (senior, Ag Studies, Gowrie, Iowa), Josh Halbur (junior, Ag Systems Technology, Breda, Iowa) and Kate Collins (senior, Ag Business, Adel, Iowa) were part of the Landus Cooperative app project team recognized with a global award.

An employee-facing app launched by Landus Cooperative and designed by four of its interns from Iowa State University was recognized last year as a “Highest Return on Investment” project in the OutSystems 2019 Low-Code Innovation Awards. Category winners hailed from Brazil, Philippines, and Australia.

As part of the cooperative’s annual summer internship program Laura Mincks (senior, Agricultural and Life Sciences Education, Columbus Junction, Iowa), Josh Carlson (senior, Ag Studies, Gowrie, Iowa), Josh Halbur (junior, Ag Systems Technology, Breda, Iowa) and Kate Collins (senior, Ag Business, Adel, Iowa) developed software requirements, oversaw spring planning and design, tested the app, and calculated the approximately $100,000 return on investment.

During the project kickoff last summer, the interns learned that harvest is arguably the busiest time at a farmer-owned cooperative.

“When combines roll hard and Mother Nature impacts hours of operation, communicating a location’s hours during harvest had become a complicated, time-consuming, every day of the week job at Landus Cooperative during harvest,” explained Brett Bell, (’96, Ag Systems and Technology)chief operating officer at Landus Cooperative and newly named member of the ISU Department of Ag and Biosystems Engineering External Advisory Council.  

With another big harvest looming, Landus Cooperative tasked interns Mincks, Carlson, Halbur, and Collins with finding a way to streamline the process for setting and communicating harvest hours to its more than 7,000 farmer members across more than 50 grain locations in 26 counties.

The cooperative intern team partnered with the internal technology team and built the app using the OutSystems low-code application development platform. The app launched August 2019.

“The result of the project was phenomenal,” explained Bell, who oversees operations for the cooperative’s grain and agronomy business. “Our location managers could decide to change hours with the click of three buttons on their smart phone and post the new hours to our website, send out text and app messages, and update our app for our growers.

Landus Cooperative estimated a three-year ROI of more than $100,000 in tangible staff-time cost savings plus intangible benefits of customer satisfaction through the faster transmission of accurate information.  It was recognized with a “Highest Return on Investment Innovation Award,” which celebrates apps that make companies dramatically more proactive, and productive while enhancing their business with an unparalleled ROI.

The project was recognized by OutSystems at its 2019 Low-Code Innovation Awards ceremony, which was held at its NextStep conference series held in Denver and Amsterdam. Winners were named from the Americas, EMEA, and APAC regions and represent a wide variety of industries and innovative low-code use cases.

Landus Cooperative’s internship program is well-known for offering a wide range of progressive, hands-on, well-paid opportunities for students. Interns gain important experience, make valuable contacts and learn firsthand about many types of careers within agribusiness.  Learn more at 

Photo and caption available here: