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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

BSE celebrates anniversary

By Lynn Nystrom

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 05 - September 21, 1995

As part of the celebration of the Biological Systems Engineering (BSE) Department (formerly agricultural engineering) 75th anniversary at Virginia Tech, seven of its alumni will be installed as the first members of its Hall of Fame.

The seven, to be installed at the September 30 anniversary banquet, are Joseph H. Barlow, Henry B. Boynton, Essex E. Finney Jr., John K. Hale, Frank B. Latham, J. Lyle Shaver, and James E. Turner.

BSE changed its name in 1994. Its focus today is to combine biology, chemistry, and engineering to solve engineering problems associated with the efficient production of renewable resources and their conversion to food and non-food products in an environmentally sound manner while conserving natural resources such as soil and water.

The department has approximately 900 graduates. The Hall of Fame idea was developed to recognize a few alumni who have distinguished themselves through their contributions to agriculture, engineering, and society. Selection to the Hall of Fame is highly prestigious because this elite group is not expected to exceed one percent of the total alumni of the department.

Barlow, a 1950 graduate, is recognized for his outstanding service to Virginia agriculture. Appointed by Gov. Gerald Baliles to the Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 1988, he remained on the board until 1995. He served as president the last three years, a position which also provided him with a term on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

He has been a member of the Virginia Agribusiness Council for more than 25 years and served on the board of directors for six years. He served on the Virginia Agricultural Foundation from 1980 to 1988, and was chairman from 1986 until 1988.

Boynton graduated in 1921 with the department's first class. Most of his career was spent with a Roanoke architectural and engineering firm. He joined Louis Phillippe Smithey, Architect and Engineer, as an associate. In 1935, he was made a partner and the firm's name changed to Smithey and Boynton, Architects and Engineers. He became president in 1980 and chairman of the board in 1982.

Labeled a "Dean of Virginia Architecture" in a Roanoke Times' feature article on him, Boynton has served as the president of the Virginia chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the State Registration Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, and Land Surveyors.

Finney, a 1956 Virginia Tech graduate, went on to earn a doctorate in 1963 from Michigan State. He was a Princeton fellow in public affairs during 1973-74.

When Finney retired in 1995, he had just finished serving as the acting administrator of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It operates 375 research groups at more than 100 locations in the U.S. and in seven foreign countries on an annual budget of $700 million.

Finney had previously served as director for programs at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, and the U.S. Arboretum in Washington, D.C.

Hale is the holder of 29 patents, most of which relate to agricultural production equipment. He has worked for The New Holland Machine Company since receiving his master's in AgE from Virginia Tech in 1955. With his job, he has primarily worked in the design-engineering and product-management areas. Today, his title is senior project engineer.

He is the recipient of the 1991 McCormick-Case Gold Medal award in honor of his superior achievements in production design of agricultural machines. He has also received the Ford New Holland Silver Medallion award for his contributions in the patent area. He was on the board of trustees of the ASAE Foundation.

Latham, a 1935 graduate of the department, also held a doctorate. He pursued a career in higher education, serving as the department head of the AgE program at the University of Illinois from 1955 until his death in 1978.

He was the recipient of the Massey-Ferguson Medal from ASAE. He was a fellow and a past president of the ASAE. He is recognized for influencing the profession of AgE, and "brought the greatest honor and recognition to the AgE Department at Virginia Tech," said C. Gene Haugh when he nominated Latham.

Shaver received both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Virginia Tech's AgE Department. He held positions with Massey-Ferguson and Eaton, Yale and Towne Inc. before joining Allis-Chalmers (now Deutz-Allis Corporation) in 1967. In 1985, he became their manager of engineering. Four years later he was promoted to director and chief engineer of the crop harvesting engineering group, and the chief engineer for the new combine program in 1991.

Shaver is credited with developing efficient engineering designs for a wide variety of farm machinery for the domestic and foreign markets. He holds nine U.S. and several foreign patents. For his many achievements, ASAE named him a fellow and the Missouri section of ASAE named him its Young Engineer of the Year. He also received the FIEI/EMI Engineering Merit Award from the Equipment Manufacturers Institute.

Turner, a current member of Virginia Tech's Board of Visitors, graduated with an AgE degree in 1956. His career began with professional and managerial positions with International Harvester, and he continued with significant leadership assignments with Newport News Shipbuilding. He spent nine years with Westinghouse, and is currently with General Dynamics, where he serves as executive vice president and president of the Electric Boat Division.

In Turner's current position, he is in charge of 16,000 employees and combined sales of $1.8 billion. He also serves on General Dynamics Corporate Executive Council. He has written numerous articles including Building America's Greatest Ships, Manufacture of a Floating Nuclear Plant, and The Energy Problem.