ATLANTA – At the opening of the American Bakers Association (A.B.A.)’s annual Technical Conference, held Oct. 20-23 in Atlanta, the association recognized the top two graduating students from its Cookie & Cracker Correspondence Manufacturing Course.

The Vander Heide Award, given to the student with the highest grade point average, was presented to Brian Walesh, process engineer, the Kellogg Co. Since 1940, the Vander Heide Award has been presented at this conference. “Brian’s accomplishments include working with snack innovation processing and leading teams to deliver results,” said Stuart Vander Heide, board member at Schulze & Burch Biscuit Co., Spring Lake, Mich., who presented the award. “I would like to congratulate him on this achievement and pursuing his professional goals.”

The Phelps Award, given to the student with the second-highest grade point average in the course, went to Andrew Shaw, process research and development coordinator, the Jamaican Biscuit Co. During his time at the company, Mr. Shaw has overseen the implementation of quality assurance software. “Andrew has achieved many milestones with the Jamaican Biscuit Co., and that was a monumental undertaking,” said Robb MacKie, A.B.A. president and chief executive officer.

This award, which began three years ago, is named for Kathy Kinter Phelps, who was instrumental in founding the Cookie & Cracker Academy after A.B.A. merged with the Biscuit & Cracker Manufacturers Association in 2016.

“The value of ongoing education and training for the skilled professionals in our industry cannot be understated,” Mr. MacKie said. “A.B.A. is honored to present these awards that recognize Mr. Walesh’s and Mr. Shaw’s dedication to the baking industry and their technical expertise in cookie and cracker manufacturing.”

The Cookie & Cracker Manufacturing Course from A.B.A.’s Cookie & Cracker Academy is the advanced training program for the industry. In the course, students master the principles, science and theory of effective cookie and cracker manufacturing. Following completion of the course, graduates possess the technical information necessary to manage or supervise a bakery shift, department, or facility. The two-year course has approximately 100 students enrolled at any given time.