Meet Jacob Kilby: graduate student

Jake Kilby is completing his Master's Degree in CSS, pioneering a hybrid turf system for the 2026 FIFA World Cup stadiums.

Jake has always loved sports, especially soccer, and he got some positive reinforcement when he helped Onstead High School Wildcats soccer team hang their first District Championship flag on the wall.

When Jake started at MSU he chose engineering as his major. “I was always good at math,” Jake says. “And I thought engineering would make a good career.” After a couple of years he discovered MSU has an awesome Turfgrass program, and soon realized he could combine his passion for soccer with his need to earn a living.

After switching his major to Sports Turf Management, Jake worked a summer internship installing soccer fields at several large college sports stadiums across the South. “It really opened my eyes to the possibilities in this field.”


Jake earned his bachelor’s degree at about the same time MSU finalized the project with FIFA to produce turf for the 2026 World Cup.  

Jake had not really considered an advanced degree, but admits this project is high value.

“Working with FIFA and University of Tennessee and everyone involved is very exciting,” Jake said. “We are

pioneering a new method—growing turf together with synthetic mats.” 


Now in the final stages of collecting data for his thesis and will finish his master’s this year, Jake has a very clear vision for his future. “I definitely have a lot more confidence now, than after finishing my undergrad,” Jake says.  “What’s next? Travel the world as a field inspector.”

Meanwhile, Jake and Turfgrass PhD candidate Jackie Guevara will give the keynote address to the 2024 Michigan Science Teachers Association annual conference.

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