Miles Willard, Idaho Falls, ID, food processing consultant and inventor, will be honored as “Researcher of the Year,” at the annual Potato Association of America meeting to be held in Toronto in August.
Willard, who with his ARS partner developed the roller-drum technology that enabled the manufacture of potato flakes, will be presented the award by Potato Grower magazine.
The presentation is made with the endorsement of the National Potato Council. Willard’s selection was revealed at the awards banquet of the NPC in San Antonio, TX, Jan. 11, by Gary Rawlings, editor.
Willard obtained a BS degree in chemical engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA; took graduate courses in food technology and biochemical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel and MIT. He obtained a PhD in science, Honoris Causa, from Drexel University in 1994. He received an honorary doctor of administrative science from the University of Idaho in 1996.
Willard’s first job was with the USDA, Eastern Regional Research Laboratory in Wyndmoor, PA. He was a research assistant and project leader in pilot plant studies relating to potato processing for the recovery of protein from starch plant waste; and production of potato flour from surplus potatoes using the double-drum drier, steam-tube drier, and direct-fried drier.
He also worked in dried-mashed potatoes by solvent extraction with ethanol and developed the manufacture of potato flakes by the direct-drum drying process. As co-inventor of the flake process with James Cording Jr., he designed and operated the first flake pilot plant.
In 1955 he was named research director of Rogers Brothers Company in Idaho Falls, ID. Rogers Brothers became the world’s first commercial producer of potato flakes. He perfected the technology of flake production.
In 1964, as a consultant in the business, he designed potato flake processing plants in Japan, Australia, Norway and in the United States. He also assisted flake manufacturers on start-up or with quality problems.
In 1973 he formed an independent food-product development company, Miles Willard Technologies LLP, added a laboratory, pilot-plant equipment and staff. In 1988 he moved into a 20,000-square-foot building which now has a staff of 20, including food scientists, engineers, technicians and support personnel.