College of Engineering Honors Professors

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Presidents circle at the University of Utah Monday September 14, 2015.

By Dona Ibrahim

A good, dedicated member of faculty mentoring a student along their college journey is one of the most useful things a student can have.

Now, the U’s Career Services is giving out 20 awards in its first annual Faculty Recognition Program in honor of this service, five of which are going to faculty members in the College of Engineering. This initiative received over 120 nominations for the awards, made by students for professors who contributed to both their career development and their overall educational experience.

The engineering college’s winners are Taylor Sparks, Tony Butterfield, Ryan Bown, Ashley Spear and Joel B. Harley.

Sparks, an assistant professor in Material Sciences and Engineering, said he felt deeply honored to receive his award.

“I teach a few of the really big undergrad classes, but I really strive to get to know the students,” Sparks said.

He said that his passion for teaching comes from his love of the subject.

“All engineering disciplines are waiting on new materials to become available with better and more exciting properties before they can build the newest gadgets and devices that we love,” Sparks said.

Sparks also had advice for any future students looking to get ahead in this field, saying that “learning and meeting people to build your network of contacts should be your top priority.”

Butterfield, an assistant professor in Chemical Engineering, said there were two facets of his subject keeping him excited to go to work in the morning.

“First, engineering, at its heart, is a helping profession. I get to work on interesting problems that, if solved, would mean helping out a larger number of people,” Butterfield said. “Secondly, my job has practically endless variety and requires some art, along with science; it’s a creative job.”

Butterfield said he was deeply honored to receive the award.

“It means a great deal to me to be recognized as playing a part in our student’s success and in the knock-on effects that success can mean to their families,” Butterfield said.

Bown, an assistant professor in Entertainment Arts and Engineering, said he enjoys his discipline because “you can focus on fundamentals, theory and practice by paralleling game pipelines through the use of technology.”

Bown recommends that students do what they’re passionate about and “embrace the process and journey.”

He said he also feels thankful to have won the award.

“I’m extremely humbled and it drives me to continue to improve my courses and make them the best that they can be.”

Harley, an assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering, said he loves how broad and interconnected the specialization of his field is.

“Understanding how all of these small technologies fit together to solve large problems is a fascinating part of engineering,” Harley said.

Similarly to Bown, Harley recommends that students “keep learning and to not overly worry ‘if class X will get me a good job with company Y.’”

When asked about the award Harley said, “I am truly honored to win the award. Mentoring has been an important part of my career as a student and a professor.”

Spear could not be reached by presstime.

These faculty and the other winners will be honored during a breakfast March 4.

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