Alumni News

2014 Alumni Honors


Cassaundra Edwards - 2014 College of Engineering Distinquished BAE Alumni

Cassaundra Edwards BS ’94, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, was awarded the 2014 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award.

Cassaundra F. Edwards is a research and development manager at ConAgra Foods in a strategic customer development role, driving product innovation for warehouse club markets such as Costco, Sam’s, and BJ’s.

For nearly 20 years she has held various roles within the food industry, starting as a junior engineer developing innovative frozen meals for Nestlé and researching novel non-thermal preservation technologies such as high pressure pasteurization and irradiation for Kraft Foods, and leading a product technical team with the integration of two food industry giants—Kraft Foods and Nabisco. Throughout her career she has touched a multitude of consumer brands such as Stouffers, A.1. Steak Sauce, Grey Poupon Mustard, Lunchables, Oscar Mayer, Banquet, and Hunt’s.

Cassaundra holds a bachelor of science in biosystems and agricultural engineering from Michigan State University and a master of engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

She has a great passion for her work in the food industry and for developing the careers of young scientists and engineers. She has been a member of MSU’s Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Industry Advisory Board for the past four years and now serves as its chair.

Cassaundra attributes her professional accomplishments and development to her family and a network of mentors who have shared their leadership philosophies and ideals and ultimately helped shape her as a leader. Her personal philosophy on leadership is that “great leadership is achieved partly through other great leaders and people helping you along the way.”

In addition to driving business growth for ConAgra Foods, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Jay Edwards, eight-year-old son, Miles, and a mischievous Welsh terrier, Coltrane. They currently reside in Omaha, Nebraska.

Andrew Wedel

Andrew Wedel was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Andrew Wedel (MS, Agricultural Engineering, 1996) is the General Manager of McLanahan Corporation’s Agricultural Systems Division where he is part of a team that develops, designs, and supplies dairy manure handling systems focused environmental sustainability and cow comfort. Specific designs include: anaerobic digester pre-treatment systems; conveyance and separation systems; earthen, concrete, and HDPE lined manure storage structures; runoff control structures; and pump and gravity conveyance systems.

Andrew holds a B.S. degree in Agricultural Engineering Technology from the University of Delaware and a M.S. degree in Agricultural Engineering from Michigan State University. He is a registered professional engineer in: Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. In 2010, Andrew received the Young Agricultural Engineer of the Year award by the Northeast Agricultural and Biological Engineering Conference.

Prior to joining McLanahan Corporation in 1996, Andrew was an Agricultural Engineering Specialist at Michigan State University where he, along with a group of agricultural engineers and dairy producers, researched and developed systems for handling sand-laden dairy manure.

Andrew, his wife Ann, and their three sons reside in Duncansville, PA. Their spare time is spent playing/coaching baseball, boating, ATV-ing, and raising chickens.


Danielle Habitz was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2014 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Danielle Habitz (BS, Biosystems Engineering, 2008) is a Snacks Process Engineer with Kellogg Company, headquartered in Battle Creek, MI.  She has led various engineering startups throughout the United States, Europe, and Latin America including the recent international startup and equipment training for Kellogg’s® Special K® Cracker chips in Belgium.  She is engineering leader across various product lines for cookies, crackers, wholesome snacks, and on-the-go foods such as Keebler® Fudge StripesTM, Kashi® Soft’n Chewy Bars, Special K® Popcorn Chips, and most recently Rice Krispies Treats® Crackle Snaps. 

Danielle has played an active outreach role for several groups including The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Western Michigan’s Senior Design program, and Kellogg’s Intern Leadership Committee. Danielle especially enjoys recruiting MSU intern candidates and presenting to the BE Club and introductory engineering classes.

Danielle and husband Neil, another Spartan graduate, reside in Chelsea, MI.   In her free time, she frequently takes part in alumni tailgate events and spends much quality time with family and friends.  Both groups along with Biosystems Engineering faculty recognize Danielle as fiercely loyal, determined, caring and passionate; attributes she consistently brings to her personal as well as her professional life.   Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering thanks Danielle, 2014 Outstanding Alumni, for being an exemplary Biosystems Engineering Ambassador.

2013 Alumni Honors

Kevin Evans - Distinguished Alumni

Kevin Evans BS ’87, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, was awarded the 2013 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mr. Evans is senior technical manager for Beam Global R&D. Since joining the company fall 2012, he has played a key role in the design and build out of the new Beam Global Innovation Center in Clermont, Kentucky. He grew up on a dairy farm in south central Michigan, with green and white running through his veins from the beginning; his dad, sister, and brother all attended Michigan State before him. It was this background that led Kevin to MSU to earn his BS in biosystems and agricultural engineering in1987, where he worked his way through school in the agricultural engineering department. Kevin furthered his education at the University of California, Davis, obtaining his MS in biosystems and agricultural engineering in 1989.

Kevin began his career at Frito-Lay, Inc., in Dallas as an R&D process engineer and acquired exposure across the portfolio of potato chips, extruded and salty snacks, and sweets.  While at Frito-Lay, Kevin started to hone his skills and passion for process design and project management. The next career move, in 1994, found Kevin migrating back north to Sara Lee Bakery in Chicago, where he continued to expand his consumer goods exposure in the bakery industry.  Continuing to migrate south, Kevin moved to sunny Florida to join Tropicana Products in 1997. There he developed strategic plans and business models for new technologies to drive productivity, quality, and cost. In 2006, he transferred back north to Barrington, Illinois, as the PepsiCo-Quaker- Tropicana-Gatorade R&D operations manager for the cross-functional operations teams including: pilot plant, health, safety and environmental, quality, project management, and purchasing sub-teams. In 2008, Kevin moved into the role of director of commercialization and engineering for PepsiCo Beverage, taking responsibility for research and commercialization of new products and processes across the PepsiCo Beverage portfolio, including Tropicana, Naked Juice, Gatorade, and Lipton Tea.

Kevin has engaged in a variety of leadership and mentoring opportunities. He has chaired local blood drives and United Way campaigns and volunteered for Junior Achievement. He was an original PepsiCo trainer for diversity and inclusion initiatives. He has twice achieved Gold Level Toastmaster status and was the founding member of the Quaker-Tropicana- Gatorade Toastmasters club. He also served on the MSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering industry advisory board for several years (as chairperson 2007-2008) and mentored several senior design project teams at MSU.

Kevin and his wife, Shay, reside in Louisville, Kentucky. They have two boys—Avery, 14, and Harrison, 11. Kevin continues to spend many hours coaching and supporting his boys in the many endeavors they undertake, from sports, to music, to academic teams. He also enjoys traveling the globe.


Scott Piggott - 2013 Biosystems and Agricultural Distinguished Alumni Award

Scott Piggott was awarded the 2013 Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering  Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mr. Piggott (BS, Biosystems Engineering, 1998; MS, Biosystems Engineering, 2010) was hired  as Chief Operating Officer of Michigan Farm Bureau in April of 2012. As Chief Operating Officer, Scott is responsible for planning, managing and supervising all of Farm Bureau’s ongoing programs and services. Scott began his career with Michigan Farm Bureau in 2000 as Natural Resources and Right to Farm Specialist and became manager of the Agricultural Ecology Department in 2002 where his responsibilities included environmental issues like air quality, water quality and water quantity. Scott has served on over 20 committees and boards, including co-chairmanship of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program and the Michigan Groundwater Conservation Advisory Council. Scott has been an invited fellow for environmental concerns at Michigan State University, University of Michigan and University of Toronto.


Scott earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Biosystems Engineering from Michigan State University. He has worked for the State of Michigan and designed air pollution control devices in private industry. Scott lives and works on his family’s farm near Fowler, Michigan with his wife Donna and four children.

Adam Eisele

Adam Eisele was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2013 Outstanding Alumni Award.


Mr. Eisele (BS, Biosystems Engineering, 2003) is currently an environmental engineer with the U.S. EPA – Region 8 in Denver, Colorado, where he specializes in the development and application of advanced air quality monitoring tools. Adam has been with EPA Region 8 since late 2008. Prior to this, Adam received his Master’s degree from the University of Colorado – Boulder where he majored in both Mechanical and Environmental Engineering. His thesis work focused on measuring air toxics at the urban/mountain interface along Colorado’s Front Range. Adam was recently awarded a PECASE (Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers) by President Obama for pioneering research in air quality surveillance and method development.


Adam and his wife Sara recently married in Napa Valley in 2012 and live in Boulder, Colorado. When not thinking about air quality, Adam enjoys mountaineering and skiing, Colorado microbrews, and repeatedly picking the Spartans to win the NCAA Basketball Tourney despite the string of broken brackets.

2012 Alumni Honors

Steve Richey - 2012 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award

Steve Richey, BS '80, MS ’87, Agricultural Engineering, was awarded the 2012 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award.

Upon graduation in 1980, Steve took a position as a design engineer with Bolens Outdoor Power Equipment in Port Washington, Wisconsin, designing and testing walk-behind mowers and snowblowers. He returned to MSU in 1982 to begin work on his master's program under Dr. Ajit Srivastava on a project funded by John Deere Harvester Works to simulate the performance of small grain combines.

In 1984, Steve began his career at Kellogg Company in the Advanced Technology Group and progressed through Engineering and Research Groups over the next 20 years. Responsibilities he had on some recognizable new products included project manager and process engineer on the first Rice Krispies Treats Squares®; and process engineer on the first multi-colored, flavored Mini-Wheats® (Maple & Brown Sugar MiniWheats®) and Fruit Twistables®. He has received three patents for equipment, products, and processes; has been recognized with multiple internal awards; and was inducted into the Kellogg 25-Year Club in 2009.

In 2005, Steve became a director in Morning Foods Process Engineering at Kellogg's. This group provides process engineering for cereal projects in the United States and Canada, as well as technical expertise to North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Latin America business units. He provides engineering expertise for cereal manufacturing network strategies and has made significant contributions to training programs for cereal process engineering and development of engineering managers.

Steve maintains a connection with MSU's Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) by volunteering to promote food engineering to freshman classes, speaking to the engineering student clubs, and helping to organize Kellogg participation in MSU Engineering Week activities. He has been a member of the BAE Department Industry Advisory Board since 2007 and chaired the board in 2010.

Janelle Boosi

Janelle Clark Boosi was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2012 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Ms. Boosi graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biosystems Engineering in May 2007. She is currently employed by Kellogg Company as the Morning Foods Business Unit Manager in their Research and Development Pilot Plant in Battle Creek, MI. Prior to her current role, Janelle spent time as a Process Engineer in the Morning Foods Division, an Associate and Assistant Food Technologist in the Core Technology & Cost Optimization group (focusing on the Snacks platform) and a 6-month intern with the Snacks R&D Core Maintenance team.

Janelle manages eight Process Leaders who organize and execute testing in the pilot plant. On a daily basis, she is working with her team, contracted personnel, and customers (developers, food technologists, and engineers) to ensure R&D testing is completed successfully and in a timely fashion. Another integral part of her role is the development of the individuals reporting to her, for whom she focuses on knowledge management, training, and career development.

At Kellogg, Janelle has spent the last 5 years on the team organizing the company’s involvement in the Annual Society of Women Engineers (SWE) conference. As a number of positions were added to the Engineering team in 2011, she also spent a large portion of the year leading a team to develop a new on-boarding program.

Outside of Kellogg, Janelle stays involved with multiple causes including a leadership role within the Great Lakes Section of the Institute of Food Technologists, Vice President of the South-Central MI Chapter of SWE, outreach activities with local groups, including Girl Scout troops and Habitat for Humanity and the Western Michigan University SWE Student Chapter.

In addition to her outstanding professional success and service, Janelle is an extraordinary ambassador for the BAE department, as she often can been seen at MSU speaking to BE classes, student clubs, and Engineering Expos about internships, life after college, her personal career path, and Kellogg’s in general. Her enthusiasm is contagious and definitely has had a positive impact on hundreds of students in recent years.

If Janelle wasn’t busy enough, she and her husband are expecting their first child in early May.  Congratulations to Janelle, our 2012 Biosystems Engineering Outstanding Alumni Award winner. 

2011 Alumni Honors

Gene Ford

Eugene (Gene) Ford was awarded the MSU College of Engineering BAE 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mr. Ford  is vice president of global technology management, R&D, at Nestlé Nutrition in Fremont, Michigan. He has more than 25 years of experience in domestic and international product development, manufacturing, logistics, and sales within the consumer food industry. One of his strengths is his ability to establish strategic direction, bring structure to ambiguity, and design and execute new business concepts and business-building projects. He is also known for his strong consumer and customer focused business skills combined with leadership, communication, mentoring, and team-building skills. In 1984, he joined the Campbell Soup Company in Camden, New Jersey for R&D, in process research and development, as a research associate. Most recently, he was director of R&D, process development, within Campbell’s USA Division, where he was responsible for a family of products under the Pace, Prego, Swanson, V8, and Campbell brands with sales exceeding $3.1 billion. After 22 years with Campbell’s, Gene left in 2006 to become director of product development for Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., in Middleboro, Massachusetts. He was responsible for product development globally, including retail and business-to-business sales of ingredients of roughly $1.5 billion. In 2008, he moved into his current position with Nestlé. In addition to product development and manufacturing support for Infant Nutrition, Meals and Drinks, his duties include capital plan development and management for the site, strategic direction of a 35,000-square-foot pilot plant, seamless commercialization of technology including developing and conducting training, and intellectual property management. He is currently an IFT member.

Gene earned his BS (‘83) and MS (’84) in agricultural engineering from MSU, and an executive master of science in engineering degree in 1992 through the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.  

Dirk Maier

Dirk E. Maier was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Dr. Maier is Professor and Head of the Department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University where he is responsible for leading the department’s teaching, research and outreach programs. He serves as the Director of K-State’s International Grains Program which aims to educate foreign business leaders, industry professionals and government officials about U.S. grains and oilseeds through technical training and assistance programs in storage, handling, milling, marketing and processing. He also serves as the Director of the GEAPS-KSU Grain and Biorefinery Operations Distance Education Program which provides continuing education to grain industry professionals around the world. Dr. Maier is a registered professional engineer, and a member and officer of several academic, professional and scholarly societies. He has served on two EPA FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panels related to the assessment of genetically modified grains. He has traveled extensively throughout the world as a speaker and participant in many national and international industry meetings and scientific conferences.

Prior to joining Kansas State University, he was Professor, Associate Head and Extension Agricultural Engineer at Purdue University (1991-2008), where he was the co-founder of the Purdue Grain Quality Team, key initiator and director of the Purdue Post-Harvest Education and Research Center, and director of the Purdue Grain Quality Laboratory. He received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural engineering from Michigan State University.

Paul Forton

Paul E. Forton was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2011 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Mr. Forton graduated from MSU in December 2004 with a B.S. degree in Biosystems Engineering. During his time at MSU, he worked as a student assistant in the Fruit Pathology Department, a research assistant for Drs. Harrigan and Northcott, and was Assistant Site Manager for Ag Expo as well as a Teaching Fellow with Dr. Marks. In the fall of his junior year, Paul began working part-time at Spicer Group as a co-op in the drafting area for their St. Johns office.

Upon graduation, Paul was offered a full-time position at Spicer Group as a Design Engineer in the Water Resources area. He has since been promoted to Project Manager and oversees a variety of projects from conception to implementation. During his time at Spicer Group, he has utilized his watershed management skills on projects involving pond and wetland design, stream restorations, agricultural conservation practices, floodplain management, storm sewer system design, and soil erosion and sedimentation control projects. His experiences include managing a broad range of projects from designing small private ponds to serving as the construction administrator for an $18 million watershed restoration project. Over the course of his career, he has formed lasting relationships with both private and municipal clients across the state of Michigan completing work in over 55 townships in 22 different counties.

Paul received his Professional Engineer License and is also a Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control. He currently resides in DeWitt Township with his wife of five years, Melissa, and their son, Jack. They are expecting the arrival of their second child in April.

2010 Alumni Honors

Dan Poland

Daniel L. Poland was awarded the MSU College of Engineering BAE 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mr. Poland is the Vice President of Manufacturing at H.J. Heinz Company. He joined Heinz in 1999 as the Factory Manager at Muscatine, Iowa. He was promoted to General Manager of PPIC/Operations in 2002; Director, Foodservice Operations in 2003; Vice President, Dry Manufacturing in 2005; and Vice President, Manufacturing in 2006. Dan is responsible for 25 manufacturing facilities across the US and Canada, representing $1.0 billion of costs of goods sold and 7,000 team members. Prior to joining Heinz, Dan was employed by Nestle and Gerber in various roles, including R&D, Engineering, and Operations Management.

Dan earned a BS in Agricultural Engineering from Michigan State University and his MBA in Business/Finance from the University of Iowa. Dan, his wife and two children reside in Pittsburgh.

Dorota Haman

Dorota Z. Haman was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Dr. Haman is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. She received a B.S. degree in Mathematics from the University of Warsaw in Poland, then went on to receive her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Agricultural Engineering from Michigan State University. She has been working at the University of Florida since 1985. Her research projects are focused on water conservation and implementation of water efficient technologies including microirrigation. Her recent research focused on efficient, water conserving production systems in ornamental container nurseries and lead to a patent for water harvesting devices in plant production. She has extensive international experience that includes teaching irrigation courses in Chile, Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, Egypt and India.

She has been an active member of ASABE, EWRI and several other professional organizations. She is a life member of USCID, a member of the USCID Board of Directors, and a past representative to the ICID Working Group on Capacity Building, Training and Education.

Nick Friant

Nick Friant was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering Outstanding Alumni Award.

Mr. Friant joined Cargill in 2002 where he serves as the Grain Handling Coordinator for the Cargill AgHorizons and Grain and Oilseed Supply Chain, North America business units. In January 2008, his role was expanded to include leading the Cargill World Wide Grain Operations Grain Quality Center of Expertise. He attended Michigan State University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 2000 and a Master of Science in 2002, both in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. His main area of study was grain quality, handling, storage, and drying.

He is a member of The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, GEAPS, the NFGA Grain Grades and Weights & Agroterrorism/Facility Security Committees, the NAEGA Grain Grades and Inspection Committee, and recently completed a three-year term on the USDA GIPSA Grain Inspection Advisory Committee (Chairperson during the third year). Nick is married to Stephanie (MSU 1998) with one son (Mason), and another child on the way. He enjoys hockey, time working in the yard, and vegetable gardening. 

Shelley Crawford

Shelley Crawford was awarded the CANR 2010 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award.

Ms. Crawford received her B.S. degree in 2006 from MSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) with a specialization in food engineering. Since her graduation, she has quickly established herself as a rising star at the Kellogg Company, becoming a key team member for the design, installation and startup of a new Morning Foods manufacturing plant. In addition, she has been the process engineer for the successful launch of more than 20 new cereal innovations.

Ms. Crawford has also continued her involvement with Michigan State University, serving as a speaker in biosystems engineering and food science classes and clubs, and as a volunteer helping students with their senior design projects. From 2007 to 2009, she served as the Great Lakes section chair of the Institute of Food Technologists, a group that offers strong support to the MSU Food Science Club through travel funding and scholarships to food science and biosystems engineering students. Shelley has also served as a presenter for the MSU chapter of the Society for Women Engineers (SWE) and serves as the collegiate advisor for the Western Michigan University chapter of SWE.

In addition, Shelly has volunteered in her community with Habitat for Humanity and the Girl Scouts, as a mentor and coach to youth and students at Western Michigan University, and in other service initiatives. She is always ready to lend a hand to promote MSU within her community and profession.