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Professional Engineer

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Dr. Michael D. Boyette, P.E. is a Philip Morris Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and a licensed Professional Engineer. Dr. Boyette proudly received all three of his degrees from NC State University. He earned his BS and Ph.D. in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and his MS in the Department of Wood and Paper Science. After earning his BS and prior to joining NCSU as an Extension Specialist in 1983, he worked for six years as a design engineer in the Nuclear Products division of Rockwell International Corp. He earned his Ph.D. in 1990. He became a full professor and was named a Philip Morris Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering in 1999.

Dr. Boyette’s interests and expertise is in the general area of crop processing. Specifically, he has conducted research and Extension work in the harvesting and postharvest handling of tobacco and fresh fruit and vegetables. He led multi-state efforts in the on-farm baling of tobacco during the years 1995-98 which was estimated to save the industry in excess of $25 million per year. In 1999- 2000, he was the lead researcher in another multi-state effort to retrofit tobacco curing barns to reduce the production of tobacco specific nitrosamines (TSNA’s) during the curing process. TSNA’s are known carcinogens that form during the curing of the tobacco. Due to the efforts of Boyette’s team, the levels of TSNA’s were reduced more than 92% the first year.

Sweetpotato consumption and popularity as a healthy food has grown by almost 50% in recent years. Sweetpotatoes are North Carolina’s premier horticultural crop with more than half the sweetpotatoes produced in the US grown in North Carolina. Over 20% of North Carolina sweetpotatoes are exported to Europe with the balance reaching domestic consumers year around as table stock and increasingly as processed fries and chips. One of the main reasons for sweetpotatoes growth in popularity is their availability year around from very sophisticated storage facilities. North Carolina sweetpotato growers possess over 95% of the controlled storage facilities in the US. The design for these facilities was pioneered in the late 1980’s by Dr. Boyette in cooperation with a group of forward looking growers who were able to envision a bright future for what was then a declining regional product.

Dr. Boyette has also had an enduring interest in wood gasification since his undergraduate days at NCSU. He has built and tested numerous gasification units and recently developed a biochar reactor to produce granular charcoal. This technology has been adopted and commercialized and is now used to produce biochar for use in greenhouse media.

Although Dr. Boyette is a productive and practical researcher and is widely known for his Extension work, he is foremost a teacher and mentor. He teaches the department’s capstone engineering course as well as courses in postharvest handling and the history and policy issues of agriculture. He is well liked and respected as an educator and has been awarded twice the departmental teacher of the year award. Dr. Boyette has authored more than 100 papers and extension publications and has chaired and mentored more than 50 graduate students and serves on numerous committees.


Ph.D. Biological and Agricultural Engineering NC State University 1990

M.S. Wood and Paper Science NC State University 1986

B.S. Biological and Agricultural Engineering NC State University 1976

Area(s) of Expertise

Harvesting and postharvest handling of tobacco and fresh fruits, Controlled storage facilities, Sweetpotato processing and product development,
Gasification units


View all publications 
  • Outstanding Extension Service Award, North Carolina Tobacco Grower's Association