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Engineering success in food

What happens when you take an engineer trained at Missouri S&T and insert him into the baking business? You get a synergistic meld between business, health and efficiency.

Rich Berger’s career has taken him many places in life. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1990, he worked for McDonnell Douglas, and eventually Anheuser-Busch’s bakery division. After several shifts and turns, Berger ended up at Clif Bar & Co. as vice president of engineering for food supply.

Now based in California, he said the training in project management he received in Rolla was pivotal to his career.

“The mechanical engineering department was as broad as my interests were,” he said. “I chose S&T because I felt like people were excited and energized about what they were learning and were passionate about what they were doing beyond just getting a degree.

“The academic rigor of Missouri S&T’s programs focused on discovery through problem-solving,” added Berger.

Now, he’s putting those skills to work for a very innovative company. At Clif Bar, Berger has overseen the private company’s move toward building and operating its own bakeries to augment its continued use of contract manufacturers.

The centerpiece of that effort is a new $90 million, 300,000-square-foot facility in Twin Falls, Idaho, that embraces the principles of biophilic design, which seeks to better blend the built environment with the natural world.

The Twin Falls bakery, which includes architectural touches such as vaulted skylights to provide natural lighting, is a design feature not unheard of in modern offices but hardly common in manufacturing sites.

Recycled wood and other green materials were used in construction. The commercial ovens are designed to capture surplus (and otherwise wasted) heat. Hybrid cooling towers help reduce water usage, and renewable energy credits purchased from an Idaho wind farm offset the electricity needed to power the bakery.

“We’re building bakeries in a different kind of way,” Berger says.

Read more about this Miner alum. 

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About this Story

Campus: Missouri S&T
Key words: Engineering, Rolla Campus,
County: Phelps