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2021 Distinguished Achievement, Service, and Alumni Awards

The UF/IFAS Agricultural and Biological Engineering department honors our alumni and friends who work to further enhance our discipline and industry. Please join us in congratulating our 2021 Distinguished Achievement, Service, and Alumni Award recipients. Read more about each award and honoree.

Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Awards

Recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award are ABE alumnus or alumna (undergraduate or graduate) who have excelled in his or her chosen field or have performed outstanding service for the profession.

Brian Roy, ABE Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award Recipient

Brian Roy, P.E.

President, Royal Consulting Services, Inc. (Non-academic)

Brian Roy is president and operating manager of Royal Consulting Services (RCS), Inc. and Enviro-Tech Systems (ETS), Inc. Through his close work with agricultural clients at Royal Consulting Services, Roy recognized a need for a streamlined process of engineers and contractors working closely together, allowing for a unique insight to the way projects were conceptualized and designed in an engineering atmosphere and then constructed in actual field conditions with precision planning. In 2004, Roy founded Enviro-Tech Systems, a licensed and bonded construction company that specializes in agricultural construction, to address this specific need. Roy is renowned throughout the agricultural and water resources industry in Florida for utilizing innovative technologies to successfully design and construct projects that meet the needs and goals of the client, while conserving or improving important natural resources in a state with increasingly strict regulatory requirements.

Today, Roy is a Professional Engineer, Certified General Contractor, Certified Underground Utility and Excavation Contractor, and Certified Mold Remediator and Assessor in the State of Florida. Roy is also a Professional Engineer in the states of Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New York. Both RCS and ETS have expanded their services outside the borders of Florida, providing engineering and construction services throughout the Eastern United States.

Dr. George Vellidis, ABE Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award Recipient

Dr. George Vellidis

University Professor and Director of Academic Programs, Crop and Soil Sciences Department, University of Georgia – Tifton Campus (Academic)

Dr. George Vellidis is a professor at the University of Georgia Department of Crop and Soil Science. He applies principles of engineering and the sciences to measure, model, and manage the interaction between agricultural production systems and the environment. Under this umbrella, he has developed two areas of focus – precision agriculture and water resources. He has received in excess of $20 million in extramural funding, received one patent, licensed two technologies, and published more than 130 refereed journal articles and book chapters and over 150 conference papers. Vellidis received the University of Georgia’s D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Research in 2015 and the International Society for Precision Agriculture’s Pierre C. Robert Precision Agriculture Award in 2016. He was named a University Professor, a title bestowed on faculty at the University of Georgia who has had a significant impact on the university in addition to fulfilling their normal academic responsibilities, in 2020 and elected to the university’s Teaching Academy in 2021.

Distinguished Achievement Award

The ABE Distinguished Achievement Award is given to individuals with exceptional achievements in agricultural and biological engineering, for demonstrated leadership, and for other exemplary accomplishments that merit the special recognition of the department.

Mike Ferrari, ABE Distinguished Achievement Award Recipient

Mike Ferrari

Ferrari Innovation Solutions LLC

Mike Ferrari is the founder and president of Ferrari Innovation Solutions, LLC. His focus is on innovation in packaging and printing, coaching Consumer Product Companies to delight consumers and grow their brands. His purpose is to educate, guide, and inspire companies as a strategy coach, author, and educator. Ferrari is a guest lecturer at the University of Florida for the Packaging Engineering program, teaching Consumer Driven Innovation Methodology. He was recruited to The Procter & Gamble Company upon graduating from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1978. He completed a successful 32-year career as a Global Research and Development Associate Director, including six and a half years as an international manager living in Germany. Ferrari delivered initiatives to the marketplace for some of the world’s leading billion-dollar brands. He is the sole and co-inventor of several patents and winner of the prestigious 2009 and 2010 DuPont Global Packaging Innovation Award. Ferrari is now enjoying the ocean breeze and life in the Florida Keys while supporting an environmental transformation to municipal solid waste by creating an endless loop of circularity to end the practice of landfills.

Distinguished Service Award

This award recognizes an ABE alumnus or alumna who has highly distinguished him or herself through exceptional public service to the state of Florida or the nation at large. Such public service is defined as any of the following: service in elected or appointed public office; service in public or private education at any level; service in any judicial system or law enforcement agency; service in any volunteer agency or entity devoted to any aspect of public welfare.

Jason Strenth, ABE Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Jason Strenth, P.E.

State Conservation Engineer, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Jason Strenth graduated from the University of Florida in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering. Upon graduation, Strenth started working with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Georgia. While in Georgia, he served as a project engineer where he assisted the Fort Benning Army Base on erosion control projects. Strenth also served as the Area Engineer for 40 counties in the Northwest part of Georgia, where he provided engineering assistance to local NRCS offices in the implementation of the Farm Bill programs and conducted inspections on watershed dams.

Strenth transferred to Gainesville, Florida, in 2003 to serve as the State Agricultural Engineer for NRCS in Florida. In this position, Strenth assisted NRCS area and field engineers in the design of erosion control, wetland restoration, irrigation, and drainage conservation practices. In 2016, he was selected as the State Conservation Engineer for NRCS in Florida. In this position, he is responsible for the overall NRCS engineering program in Florida. Strenth is also the Program Manager in Florida for NRCS’ Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, which provides financial and technical assistance to local governments to help recover from damages to the local watersheds resulting from natural disasters. Jason is a licensed professional engineer in Florida and Georgia. He is also a member of ASABE, where he has served the Florida Section as the Chair and Vice Chair for Programs.

Outstanding Young Alumnus/Alumna Awards

Recipients of the Outstanding Young Alumnus/Alumna Awards are ABE alumnus/alumna (undergraduate or graduate) who have excelled in his or her chosen field or must have performed outstanding service for the profession.

Dr. Erin G. Webb, ABE Outstanding Young Alumnus/Alumna Recipient

Dr. Erin G. Webb

Group Leader, Bioresource Science and Engineering, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Dr. Erin G. Webb graduated with her Doctor of Philosophy from ABE in 2005. Her research interests include developing technologies and systems to produce, harvest, store, process, and transport biomass for conversion to biofuels and biomaterials and building and applying simulation tools to design biomass supply chains that are cost-effective, sustainable, and safe. As a Group Leader at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Webb leads strategic visioning and implementation of research and development to develop and apply quantitative tools to advance our understanding of how bioresources can be sustainably and reliably produced, delivered, and utilized to expand the U.S. bioeconomy while also preserving ecosystem services. Webb hopes to lead multidisciplinary teams of scientists and engineers to collaboratively develop innovative, reliable solutions for renewable energy and a sustainable bioeconomy that expands economic opportunities in rural America while protecting critical ecological systems.

Marcos Montes De Oca, ABE Outstanding Young Alumnus/Alumna Recipient

Marcos Montes De Oca, P.E.

President, MDO Engineering, Inc.

Marcos Montes De Oca obtained his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and Biological Engineering in 2000 and his Master of Engineering in 2001. After graduating, Montes De Oca worked as a consultant in agricultural and civil engineering. In 2012, Montes De Oca became the City of Belle Glade Public Works Director and established MDO Engineering, a boutique engineering firm. Currently, Montes De Oca serves as a City Administrator for the City of Okeechobee and the President of MDO Engineering.

Montes De Oca attributes his experience at the University of Florida as one that molded him into the professional that he is today.

During his professional career, Montes De Oca has been involved in many organizations, including the Florida Engineering Society, the Leadership Palm Beach County Class of 2015, the Leadership Glades Class of 2014, American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, Okeechobee Kiwanis International, and Brother of Okeechobee Masonic Lodge.