The 2015 Outstanding Staff and Teaching Awards were announced Friday, Aug. 21, representing stellar work by individuals in the University of Utah’s College of Engineering.

Dean Richard Brown honored the recipients during his annual fall faculty and staff meeting held this year at the newly-refurbished Rio Tinto Kennecott Mechanical Engineering Building.

Outstanding Staff Award — Ryan Schow, supervisor, Nuclear Engineering Program


No one better understands the operations of the University of Utah’s TRIGA nuclear reactor than Ryan Schow. As the reactor supervisor, Ryan is a prime example of the nuclear engineering program’s top-notch staff, always training personnel and maintaining the facility with an eye toward safety and security. Working with UNEP Director Tatjana Jevremovich, Ryan helped develop new and improved ways of maintaining and operating the reactor that mirrors the rigorous operations of industry nuclear power plants. Meanwhile, he has demonstrated a continuous commitment to the growth of the program. As the students of the Utah Nuclear Engineering Program wrote: “It would be fitting to honor Ryan for his outstanding work and dedication in improving both UNEP and the College of Engineering and in setting a high standard for us to follow.”


Outstanding Staff Award — Heather Palmer, academic advisor, Bioengineering

If only all university students had an undergraduate academic advisor like Heather Palmer. Heather is more than just someone who guides students through college life. She is an advocate, someone who is trusting, compassionate, understanding — in other words, a true friend. Whether it’s through class orientations or confidential one-on-one sessions, Heather helps students in our bioengineering department effectively navigate through their college careers, making sure they are on the best course for success. And she does it with energy, enthusiasm and while possessing the best people and communication skills students have ever seen. We’re proud of the work she has done and the students she has impacted, and we look forward to new generations of undergraduates who will benefit from her devotion and desire to help.


Outstanding Service Award — The Utah Nanofab Staff

Everyone knows that moving into a new home is not fun. Then just imagine what it must been like relocating to a 23,000-square-foot facility with millions of dollars in delicate, high-tech equipment that has to be carefully transported and put back online. That’s what the full-time staff at the Utah Nanofab had to endure while they moved from the Merrill Engineering Building to their new $40 million facility in the Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building. It was no easy task. As the new Sorenson USTAR building was taking shape five years ago, this tireless team had to carefully review and implement designs to ensure the proper installation of complex instrumentation that researchers rely on. This summer, the work was complete, and the Nanofab is fully functional thanks to this loyal and industrious group. For their work, we would like to honor:

Brian Baker
Charles Fisher
Ian Harvey
Rachel Henderson
Kevin Hensley
Lorenzo Morales
Tony Olsen
Paulo Perez
Randy Polson
Steve Pritchett
Ryan Taylor
Brian Van Devener
Amy Van Roosendaal

Outstanding Teaching Assistant — Christopher “Kiffer” Creveling, Mechanical Engineering

Christopher “Kiffer” Creveling is certainly this century’s version of a “Renaissance Man.” He is a member of many honor societies, namely Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honors society. He was an outreach coordinator, a volunteer for the Associated Students of the University of Utah and the Utah Food Bank, and a fundraiser for the Huntsman Cancer Institute. If that weren’t enough, he also was a photographer for the Utah Daily Chronicle and co-captain of the University of Utah water polo team. But with all of those duties, the one responsibility where he has really connected with students was as a teaching assistant in the department of mechanical engineering. In the Strength of Materials class, he did an incredible job running labs, grading lab reports and conducting weekly sessions with students. But he’s done so much more for the department, including creating his own lectures and locating and donating more lab equipment he purchased himself. Thanks to his contagious enthusiasm and outstanding leadership skills, Kiffer has proven to be an invaluable addition to the department. As one professor noted: “Without a doubt he has been the best TA I have ever had because he wants to make the classroom and lab space a better place for students.”


Outstanding Teacher — Joe Zachary, professor (lecturing), School of Computing

Teachers do more than just give lessons to students. They make a positive impact on people that will last their whole lives. Nothing could be more true of a professor’s legacy than School of Computing professor Joe Zachary. For more than 25 years, Joe has tackled and mastered complex topics in computer science and conveyed them in classrooms with passion, dedication and an innate ability to reach out to students in an effective way. Each year, he continues to get the highest scores from students and fellow faculty members. Whether it’s been one year or 10 years since graduating, former students of Joe’s always ask about him and gladly mention the impact he has had on their lives. And the students who have him today already are passing on similar accolades. As one student says: “I want to pursue a degree in computers science . . . and I owe it to Joe Zachary for fueling this desire.” Another added: “I can say definitively that he is the most talented and dedicated professor that I have ever had.” The College of Engineering is proud and fortunate to have someone as committed and gifted as Joe Zachary.