- January 2023
Extension Associate III
Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Years in Position: 10+
Years at MSU: 23
Persistence—and a lot of stubbornness—are a couple of the traits James Wooten credits for helping him succeed in his career.
“Things don’t always work the first time,” said Wooten, speaking from more than a decade of experience working on prototypes and research projects.
Wooten oversees Mississippi State University’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering’s shop used by students and faculty for research. He also works on original research, and product and process development.
“For the last several years, we’ve been testing industrial processes for making wood pellets. Currently, we have a grant to grade woodchips coming into a plant using some novel image processing techniques,” said Wooten.
Although he’s surrounded by new technology and modern equipment, Wooten’s favorite machine in the shop is a surface grinder he restored that was once used by the U.S. Navy in the 1940s.
“We only use it a couple of times a year, but it’s very handy when you need it. It smooths the metal and is very precise,” said Wooten.
Wooten’s favorite part about his job is the people; his favorite memory is helping a farmer save thousands of dollars.
“His estimate was $30,000, and I suggested he install modern controllers on his feed system that was only $500.
“People forget, I am an engineer first. I see the world as a lot of small processes that have been joined together,” said Wooten.
Wooten has a master’s degree in engineering and a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering, both from Mississippi State. He offers this advice to students pursuing a degree in engineering: “Do the best you can in classes. That means always trying for an ‘A’. There will be times when you pray to pass but always get as much out of the class as you can. Believe it or not, the professor who may seem boring actually knows something. Learn everything you can from them. People will notice.”
When asked what he does in his spare time, Wooten said, “I take care of my 90-year-old mother. This takes up most of my spare time, but I would not have it any other way.”