Published By: Russell Boone May 21, 2024

Dr. Cedric Ogden is an Extension engineer and professor for FVSU's College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology.

A rural upbringing, an interest in technology and a popular television show propelled Dr. Cedric Ogden to pursue a career in education and agricultural engineering.

Ogden, a native of Fort Valley, Georgia, graduated in 2004 from Fort Valley State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural engineering. He is an Extension engineer and professor for FVSU’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology where his main duties include grantsmanship, research development, project management and engineering course instruction

“I enjoy the ability to be creative while addressing global issues through research and outreach,” he said.

The FVSU professor said that his interest in technology was sparked by a need to improve outdoor activities such as car maintenance and landscaping.

 “As a youth, I was also fond of the television (TV) series MacGyver.”

MacGyver was a long running TV show. It featured the work of an agent using technical knowledge with everyday items to solve complicated problems.

When it was time to select where to go to college, Ogden, who was born and raised in Peach County, said FVSU was the obvious choice after graduating from high school.

“Fort Valley State had a sense of home as well as family tradition. My parents (Everlyn and Foster Ogden), sister (Terolyn Ogden), wife (Curla Ogden) and several aunts, uncles and cousins all graduated from the university,” Ogden said.

As an undergraduate student, Ogden credits Dr. Chau Nguyen, former FVSU professor and department head of the agricultural engineering program, for serving as his mentor.

“Dr. Nguyen walked me through freshman orientation, served as my advisor and aided me in applying for scholarships and graduate school,” he said.

Furthermore, for three of his four years in school, Ogden was a full-time FVSU student and full-time employee at Dan River Incorporated, a textile company.

Working the shift from 4 p.m.-12 a.m. Monday through Friday limited his chances to participate in extracurricular activities and internships.

Despite his busy schedule, Ogden still managed to gain fond memories as a student by earning awards during FVSU’s annual Honors Convocation and Homecoming Week.

“Right before my senior year, Dan River shut down. That allowed me to become a member of the Gamma Zeta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. There, I met brothers for life that provided me with enough memories to last a lifetime,” Ogden said.

After graduating from FVSU, Ogden decided to pursue his master’s and doctoral degrees in agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

“I selected Purdue after meeting the head of the agricultural and biological engineering department at an engineering conference in Florida. After the meeting, I took an interest in an opportunity for bioenergy graduate research.”

Upon his return from Purdue in 2011, Ogden was offered and immediately accepted his current position at FVSU.

Even though he is now an instructor at his alma mater, Ogden can fully relate to his students after sitting in those same desks as an undergraduate.

“I see myself in the seats of the students as they seek to balance academics with social life and personal growth. I feel obligated to provide them with a service to guide them in handling academic pressures, time management and quests for future educational and employment opportunities.”

In addition to his academic duties, the bulk of Ogden’s research focuses on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and alternative energy sources, particularly solar.

Ogden shows two of his students the basics of operating a drone.

“Both technologies and sources assist with global issues. The use of UAVs can be applied to helping surveilling areas during a disaster response, monitoring environmental occurrences and infrastructure inspection. Alternative fuels and solar energy help address the energy crisis by reducing dependence on finite resources and providing renewable and sustainable power sources that aid in addressing climate change,” Ogden said.

Furthermore, the FVSU Extension engineer says that UAV and alternative fuel technologies will be needed as the world’s population increases. He said their use may help alleviate pressure on air, land and water resources by providing information for efficient environmental practices.

With Ogden’s expertise, FVSU has one of the largest solar farms located on a college campus in the U.S. with a 107-acre complex.

Built in collaboration with Georgia Power Company, the farm consists of more than 27,000 solar panels, is connected to a sub-station, and has a model demonstration site dedicated for academic and research purposes.

“We anticipate a curriculum and training for student workforce development in the renewable energy sector,” Ogden said.

The FVSU professor said that agricultural engineering students will benefit from the arrangement by getting the opportunity to get hands on experience. Future plans include teaching students how to install and design equipment, develop software and develop ideas focusing on energy policy.

Ogden’s work has garnered attention from national organizations. In 2023, The Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) recently honored him with the 1890’s Regional Award for Individual Excellence in Extension. It is awarded to a person who promotes innovative engagement with diverse communities by using technology to address economic and environmental challenges.

“It is gratifying and truly an honor to be recognized on a national stage for my vision, research and outreach efforts to benefit communities through technological advances,” Ogden said.

“There is a sense of purpose and resolve to assist in organizational changes that support diversity, pluralism and innovation in a program that effectively impacts our Extension audiences.”

The 43-year-old FVSU alumnus takes great pride in receiving an award on behalf of his alma mater and attributes it to the values instilled in him as an undergraduate student. “To receive this award is a testament to the quality education, support and foundation provided by FVSU. I’m grateful for the opportunities to proudly carry the spirit of this institution forward.”