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Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering


2020 CFAES and FABE Distinguished Senior Award Recipients

April 21, 2020
2020 CFAES Distinguished Seniors

Earlier this semester, five FABE students were recognized with the CFAES Distinguished Senior Award. In addition, four FABE students were also recognized at the department level with a FABE Distinguished Senior Award. The Distinguished Senior Award honors academic, disciplinary, and professional excellence in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). It is the most prestigious undergraduate award in CFAES, recognizing our top graduating seniors each year from each of the academic units on the Columbus campus. The selected students’ accomplishments and activities have benefited their communities, their academic unit, the college, the university, and/or their future profession.

2020 CFAES & FABE Distinguished Seniors: 

Assad Ahmad, 2020 CFAES & FABE Distinguished SeniorAsaad Ahmad

Asaad Ahmad had already earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Basrah (Basrah, Iraq) and spent many years working in the construction industry in multiple countries before beginning his undergraduate experience at The Ohio State University in 2018. Asaad is results-driven and knows how to persevere, particularly in the classroom. He has navigated moving to a new country, maintaining employment, and raising a family, all while excelling in the classroom. In light of the challenges he faced overcoming cultural and language barriers, managing responsibilities at work and at home, he is proud that his hard work paid off, as evidenced by his 4.0 GPA.

As a current full-time employee with Elford, he has been a project manager for Ohio State projects while enrolled as student. In addition to this work commitment, Asaad is the proud father of three girls and husband to Heba. Not all students can work on a degree while being employed full time, but Asaad has committed to doing whatever it takes to support his family while furthering opportunities for all of them in the future. After graduation, Asaad plans to apply his education and professional experience to work with one of the major engineering and construction companies in the country. He aspires to one day run his own construction company. 

Without his mentors, Anastasia Britt and Jeff Suchy, Asaad says he wouldn’t be where he is today. They have supported and encouraged him to continue his academic career at OSU. They provided him with assistance and advice to reach his goal of graduating while maintaining an exceptional GPA in all of his classes. He is grateful for their support. Academic honors received by Asaad include: Dean’s List, Central Ohio Associated General Construction Scholarship, The National Society of Leadership and Success, and CSCC Dean’s List.

Andrew Klopfenstein, CFAES & FABE Distinguished SeniorMatthew Klopfenstein

Matthew Klopfenstein’s most valuable undergraduate experience has been his time with the Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Team. Together they design, build, test, market, and compete with a custom-built tractor on an international level. The comprehensive nature of these competition events challenged Matthew to connect learning from the classroom to his passions, and has forever changed his performance as an engineer. This experience is also what Matthew notes as his greatest sense of accomplishment. He has served as a leader and made connections for internships as well as a full-time job following graduation.

Matthew has completed internships with 360 Yield Center in Illinois as a research and development engineering intern, with Precision Planting in Illinois as a research and development engineering intern, as well as an internship with Kuhn North America Brodhead in Wisconsin where he worked as a product test and evaluation intern. In addition to his internship experiences, Matthew has also served as a research assistant to Dr. Scott A. Shearer in FABE. His work experiences include Cookie Cottage Bakery where he was a contracted engineer to create a cookie chip measurement tool to increase the efficiency of making their most expensive cookie. Matthew also worked at Klopfenstein Family Farms as an assistant farm manager, and as a co-owner of Deborah’s Goldens, to breed and sell purebred AKC-registered Golden Retrievers.

Matthew has been actively involved as an undergraduate student in many organizations such as: CFAES Ambassador, ASABE Engineers Club, Quarter-Scale Tractor Team, Alpha Zeta Partners Professional Fraternity, and FarmHouse Fraternity. He has served as a Zig Ziglar Foundation Certified Professional Speaker and Facilitator, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Volunteer, as well as served the Ohio FFA Organization as the State President, Treasurer, and National Officer Candidate. He also complted a six week education abroad trip to Brazil with Alpha Zeta Partners. 

After graduating, Matthew will begin his engineering career working for CNH Industrial in Burr Ridge, Illinois as a hydraulic engineer while working towards his Professional Engineers License. Matthew is also getting married early next year to his fiancé, Mary, who he met at Ohio State. Matthew’s academic honors and accomplishments include: FarmHouse International Fraternity President of the Year, SPHINX Senior Class Honorary, New Face of ASABE, Dean’s List, Jerry Minore Memorial National Wheat Foundation Scholar, Ohio Soybean Council Scholar, FarmHouse Scholar, Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Scholar, American FFA Degree Recipient, Agriculture Future of America Leadership Conference Delegate, and Joe-Leiser Memorial Ag-Credit Scholar.

Tanner Matthews, 2020 CFAES & FABE Distinguished SeniorTanner Matthews

Tanner Matthews says his greatest sense of accomplishment was completing his first semester as an undergraduate. To some this might sound like an ordinary accomplishment, but it came with a great sense of relief and was a foundation for his future. There were several times during those first few months that Tanner considered giving in and heading back home. However, with the help of many new friends, his mentor, and the love and support from those back home, Tanner powered through the semester. Tanner says he learned to love the opportunities that Ohio State gave him.

While attending classes, Tanner worked part time on the weekends for his family’s grain farm in Van Wert county. Their farm includes corn and soybeans on 2800 acres, farming no-till and strip tillage. Tanner also applied his learning by completing internships with three companies as an undergraduate, Tanner held two internships in Ohio. First, he was an agronomy intern with Mercer Landmark, and then a machinery specialist and parts intern for Kenn-Feld Group. He later completed an internship as a research agronomy intern for Precision Planting in Illinois. Tanner further applied his learning by traveling with Alpha Zeta Partners for his spring semester to study Brazilian agriculture. 

Tanner was actively involved with student organizations as an undergraduate, including Agricultural Systems Management Club, Crops and Soils Club, Alpha Zeta Partners, and CFAES Student Council. He was also a member of Van Wert County Young Ag Professionals. He attended the Ohio Farm Bureau Young Ag Professional Conference, National FFA New Century Farmer Conference, and volunteered in the community with Habitat for Humanity. Tanner’s academic honors include: Dean’s List, CFAES Newcomb Scholar, R.D. Barden Scholarship, Consolidated Grain and Barge Scholarship, and the Paul H. Rofkar Scholarship. After graduation Tanner plans to return to his family’s farm full-time, where he will contribute to the operation by diversifying into beef cattle production and expanding the farm’s acreage. He also plans to make the farm more sustainable with different conservation practices that are beneficial to the land and cost-effective.

Louis Mezzopera, 2020 CFAES & FABE Distinguished SeniorLouis Mezzopera

For Louis, the most enjoyable and rewarding experience of his undergraduate career has been his involvement with the Student-Alumni Council (SAC). The Student-Alumni Council aims to enhance the connection between students past, present, and future by fostering a sense of community and instilling a lifelong commitment to one’s alma mater. Louis also participated in the 2019 National Association of Home Builders student competition. This experience gave him a chance to apply skills learned in the classroom to a real-world example through completing a management project/proposal. 

Louis has completed three internships related to his interest in construction with 3 Pillar Homes, Cleveland Construction, Inc., and Enzoco Custom Homes. Louis worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant for three semesters before beginning his most recent internship, which served as his part-time job in addition to classes. This opportunity became one of the highlights of his Construction Systems Management degree program, as he tried to make this work more than just a job, but an opportunity to guide and mentor the younger CSM students. Louis feels one of the greatest assets to the CSM program is the opportunity to have a close relationship with the professors.

Through his involvement with the Mount Leadership Society Scholars Program, Louis has given hundreds of hours of service to OSU and Columbus through service events. The most significant opportunity Louis had was spending a full year of service with the Community Kitchen of Columbus, providing hot meals to the less fortunate 2-3 times per week. Undergraduate honors bestowed on Louis included: Dean’s List, OSU Provost Scholarship, CFAES Newcomb Scholar, Ohio Contractors Association Scholarship, SMPS Columbus Scholarship, and Simpson Strong-Tie Scholarship. After graduation, Louis plans to continue pursuing a career in the residential building sector. Somewhere down the road, he would like to be an entrepreneur and one day earn his MBA degree to enhance his business skillset.

Rex Tietje, 2020 CFAES & FABE Distinguished SeniorRex Tietje

The Agricultural Systems Management Club was awarded the CFAES Student Organization of the Year award for the culmination of accomplishments and service projects in the 2018-2019 academic year, and as its president Rex Tietje felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Rex identifies his term as the club’s president as his most rewarding and enjoyable experience as an undergraduate; he especially appreciated working closely with fellow members to contribute to the club’s success. Rex has served in multiple officer roles in the Agricultural Systems Management Club as well as maintained active involvement with the CFAES Student Council. Rex was also a member of the Crops and Soils Club.

During two internships with Ohio at Legacy Farmers Cooperative and Redline Equipment, Rex was able to gain valuable experience related to his interests in agronomy, precision farming, customer relationships, and other specialty areas which will continue to support him professionally in the future. In 2018 Rex teamed up with his brother to establish a Beck’s Hybrids seed dealership business, Buckeye Advanced Ag, LLC. The launch and operation of this business provided a unique perspective on his education, as it allowed him “ apply what I was learning in class to scenarios that were happening in the dealership simultaneously.”

While engaged for the last two years in the FABE Precision Agriculture research, Rex participated in data collection efforts on the research group’s trials. He has enjoyed working on this research and is appreciative of the support from Andrew Klopfenstein, who leads these projects. Following graduation, Rex plans to return to his family’s farm to apply everything he has learned to its operation and growth. He will also continue to manage his seed dealership. During Rex’s time at Ohio State, he was awarded the following honors and recognition: Dean’s List, Edward S. “Beanie” Drake Student Leader Endowment Fund Scholarship, Ohio Soybean Council Foundation Scholarship, and The Ohio State University Provost Scholarship.


2020 FABE Distinguished Seniors:

Forrest Lang, 2020 FABE Distinguished SeniorForrest Lang

Forrest takes pride in the positive difference he has made during his time at Ohio State. In his second year, Forrest joined the leadership team of the ASM Club as Treasurer. He would lead the organization’s fundraising efforts over the next few years, taking their funds from a few hundred to over $20,000. Using this funding, the club was able to expand their programs and cover student travel to national conferences. Forrest also participated in a number of the club’s service-learning projects including high school visits and a partnership with AgrAbility. Beyond ASM, Forrest has also involved in the Ag Ed Society, the planning committee for the CFAES Celebration of Students, and as a student research associate in FABE. 

Samantha Lewis, 2020 FABE Distinguished SeniorSamantha Lewis

Samantha began her time at Ohio State after spending nine years as a professional ballerina. Samantha chose to major in FABE and specialize in biological engineering because of her fascination with the human body. She was excited to see how engineering principles could be applied in this field, specifically in oral health. Samantha applied for and received the Dr. Rudy Melfi fellowship at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry, where she worked on research examining the effects of estrogen deficiency and whole-body vibration on oral bone and was eventually invited back on the fellowship for a second year. She presented her research at Ohio State’s Undergraduate Research Forum, Ohio State’s College of Dentistry Research Day, and even travelled to the International Association for Dental Research in Vancouver, Canada sponsored by the dental school.

Corbin Walnsch, 2020 FABE Distinguished SeniorCorbin Walnsch

Corbin dove headfirst into the CSM major during his first semester by participating in the University of Cincinnati New Builder’s Competition. He stayed involved with program by participating in the CSM Club and working as a Teaching Assistant for CONSYSM 4642- Contracts and Documents. Over the summers, Corbin completed four internships at The Creative Group Inc, Donley’s Inc, Beatuy Craft Metal Fabricators Inc, and Whitney-Turner Contracting Company.  After graduation, Corbin will work as a full-time project engineer for Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. 

Lindsay West, 2020 FABE Distinguished SeniorLindsay West

Lindsay found opportunities to combine her passions for food and humanitarian engineering while at Ohio State. This past year, Lindsay participated in the Maji Marwa capstone project with the intent to travel to Tanzania this summer to test their water distribution system. Although the group is no longer travelling, she hopes to still visit the community with an alumni group. During her time at Ohio State Lindsay was a research assistant with the Dale A. Seiberling Food Engineering Lab and completed two internships at Smithfield Foods and the other at Burns & McDonnell. As a result of her internship, she was hired as a Assistant Mechanical Engineer at the Burns & McDonnell headquarters where she will play a crucial role in the company’s Food & Consumer Products Department and pave the way for future Food Engineers.