Posted: March 15, 2018

Susan McNulty-Atwater, a Penn State agricultural and biological engineering alumna, was recently named one of 12 recipients of the 2018 Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award.

Established in 1966, the award is the highest honor bestowed by the Penn State College of Engineering and recognizes graduates who have reached exceptional levels of professional achievement.

"I was completely shocked and so humbled to be honored by Penn State with the Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award," said McNulty-Atwater. "As an undergraduate student, I vividly recall seeing the halls of the Hammond Building lined with photograph plaques of the Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award winners and reading about their impressive careers. I never thought I would be on that wall of fame. It truly is an honor to be recognized by the College of Engineering and the Department of Agricultural Biological Engineering, which taught me so much."

She received a bachelor's degree in agricultural and biological engineering with a focus on food processing design in 1999. Since then, she has more than 19 years of experience in the food processing industry, working on leading brands for Kraft Foods, H.J. Heinz Company, General Mills, and currently HP Hood LLC as a project engineering manager for the process design portion of a new dairy plant construction project.

"I really love what I do. I work with so many wonderful people who help transform what I design on paper and in AutoCAD into reality," she said.

Prior to joining HP Hood LLC in November 2017, McNulty-Atwater was a senior food process engineer and utilities project engineer at General Mills, Inc. for nearly seven years, where she managed a multimillion dollar budget and executed a total of 32 different capital projects annually.

"I'm so grateful to my professors who taught me the fundamentals that I still use today," said McNulty-Atwater. "I knew nothing when I started as a freshman and I had no idea where my engineering degree would take me when I graduated. I couldn't have imagined back then that I would be lucky enough to play such a role in bringing everything from Heinz Ketchup, to Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Lactaid Milk, and countless other popular food brands to the grocery stores for people to eat."

She has been very involved in the Penn State College of Engineering, previously on the Industrial and Professional Advisory Council; board member, vice president and president of the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society; a member of Penn State Alumni Council; and guest lecturer of senior food process engineering design course ABE465.

"So many people at Penn State - countless professors and staff - taught me so much, by giving me the engineering-disciplined approach to problem solving, a technical background, and leadership skills. They all made such an impact on me and my career," said McNulty-Atwater. "It has become my mission to mentor young engineers starting out in their career and pass on the things I've learned in the classroom from some amazing professors at the University."

McNulty-Atwater is a member of the American Society of Agricultural Biological Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. She and her husband, Ben, and their daughters reside in Barker, New York.

McNulty-Atwater will be honored on April 23 at the College of Engineering's annual Outstanding Engineering Alumni Awards ceremony at the Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus.