YOU NEED TO KNOW: Steve Taylor
Meet Steve Taylor, the head of the Department of Biosystems Engineering- a program offered in collaboration with the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Taylor received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural engineering from the University of Florida. He then went on to obtain his doctorate in agricultural engineering from Texas A&M. Taylor started riding horses when he was 12 years old, and he still enjoys spending time with his three horses when his schedule allows. Whether at home or on mission trips in Central America, Taylor loves building things, spending time outdoors and working on his family farm and forest lands, both here in Lee County and in central Kentucky.
What drew you to Auburn University?
My Ph.D. research focused on structural wood engineering and improved utilization of forest resources through development of engineered wood products. After I finished my Ph.D., Auburn offered me a position to work in the forest engineering area. The position fit my research background very well and the application of engineering to wood and forest operations also made a great connection to my family’s interest in forestry and wood products. Also, Auburn is just a wonderful place to live and raise a family.
What advice do you have for students considering a major in biosystems engineering?
First, if this feels like the right major for you, don’t let others talk you out of doing what works for you. Our graduates do amazing things and have careers that are just as exciting as any other engineering major. Stick with it; study hard but don’t get discouraged if you don’t get A’s in all your courses, because engineering is tough. Join our student professional society and then get to know the other students and faculty. In the end, you will be part of a great family of biosystems engineers.
What is your favorite Auburn tradition? What has been your most exciting moment here at Auburn?
I would say watching the eagle fly before the football game is my favorite Auburn tradition. I have had many exciting moments at Auburn, but the moments that are most meaningful are ones that involved building something. I will share two of those events. The first memorable event was the culmination of many months of working with a group of students and faculty to design and build a self-sufficient solar-powered house for a national competition, transport the house to Washington, and assemble it on the National Mall. One of those special memories is working all night, with a group of great Auburn students, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and watching the sun rise over the U.S. Capitol. I have been back to the mall with our mobile biomass gasification and power generation laboratory. A second very memorable event was when we were able to cut the ribbon on the newly renovated Biological Engineering Research Laboratory. I led a team of faculty to obtain several million dollars in grant funds that allowed us to renovate our primary laboratory building for the biosystems engineering department. This was a great day for everyone in our department, and it will benefit many future generations of biosystems engineering students.
What is it like being the department head of biosystems engineering, and working with both the College of Agriculture and the College of Engineering?
People often think it must be frustrating to have ties to both colleges, but I think it is great. We get to participate in activities in the two best colleges on the Auburn campus. Our students are enrolled in the College of Engineering, but our research and extension programs are part of the College of Agriculture. I participate in all of the administrative meetings and alumni events in both agriculture and engineering. While this can be a juggling act sometimes when you have to be in two places at once, I enjoy getting to meet the wonderful alumni, students, and staff from both colleges. Ultimately, I know that our work in biosystems engineering allows us to use our engineering knowledge to solve major global challenges in providing food, fiber, energy and clean water.