The 2017 University of Utah College of Engineering staff, teaching and service awards were handed out Aug. 18 during the annual fall faculty meeting. Congratulations to all of the recipients of this year’s awards.

SheilaO_0065cOutstanding Staff Award — Sheila Olson, administrative manager, Mechanical Engineering

For nine years, Sheila Olson in the Department of Mechanical Engineering has been a passionate and hard-working organizer who has kept the department running trouble free. She successfully managed the overwhelming task of moving everyone to the newly-refurbished Rio Tinto Kennecott Mechanical Engineering building two years ago, and she continues to run the department’s payroll, budget and financial affairs without a glitch.

And best of all, Sheila performs all of those remarkable tasks with an infectious smile and an upbeat attitude, making her a joy to work with and a reliable person to turn to for help.

Bob Knudsen ECEOutstanding Staff Award — Bob Knudsen, accountant, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Bob Knudsen, an accountant for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, doesn’t just crunch numbers. He magically works the budget like an artist, funneling all the necessary money to the right places to make sure projects and important operations always get funded. Bob’s amazingly organized, fiercely dedicated and a financial whiz who has kept the department strong by always making sure the cash is flowing in the right direction.

Whether he’s working with PIs on the status of their grants or with staff on hiring faculty or offering graduate fellowships, Bob has been an invaluable addition to the department. As one faculty member put it: “I can’t imagine the ECE Department working as well as it does without Bob Knudsen.”

Kenny_0005cOutstanding Service Award — Ken Marlow, Starley’s Cafe

You could say that Ken Marlow is the lifeblood of the College of Engineering’s faculty, staff and its students.

As the proprietor of the famed Starley’s Café in the Warnock Engineering Building, Ken not only keeps the residents of the engineering college fed, he does it with some of the most delicious eats on the University of Utah campus, from his mouth-watering salads to his delectable wraps and fresh sandwiches. He’s also a great guy who’s ready to greet you with a smile, and he’s always anxious to hear about your day while you stock up on his delectable lunches or quick snacks. That makes Ken one of the most vital and necessary people on the engineering campus and a friend to anyone who walks into his café.

joshuaOutstanding Teaching Assistant — Joshua Winger, Materials Science and Engineering

It takes a rare combination of not only intelligence but selflessness to be a great teaching assistant. Josh Winger in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering is one of those TA’s.

Just look and the student comments written about Josh, which read like Yelp reviews for a 5-star restaurant: “He went above and beyond the responsibility of a TA. By far the best one I have ever had,” wrote one student. “Josh was a very intelligent, very kind teacher’s assistant. He is always willing to help any person about any questions and about any subject.”

Lastly, the professor he worked for, Taylor Sparks, has only the highest praise for Josh: “He goes way above the duties of his job to try and help students out. He is a credit to our institution . . . and I can’t imagine a more deserving recipient.”

IMG_5905cOutstanding Teacher — James Sutherland, associate professor, Chemical Engineering

Like the most valuable chemical compositions, the best teachers are made up of the right amounts of what’s important. In this case, it’s knowledge, empathy, respect, communication skills and an innate ability to hold your attention. Chemical engineering associate professor James Sutherland is the ultimate combination of all of those elements.

James cares about student learning. He’s extremely well organized, a master of the material, and he’s a tough instructor who expects the most from his students. But he’s also fair, understanding and motivating.

His graduating seniors have already chosen him for two other teaching awards. The Class of 2016 gave him the best lecturer award, and the Class of 2017 honored him with the outstanding faculty award. Here’s what a couple of his students have had to say about him:

“James Sutherland is a name that carries weight among the students in the department of chemical engineering,” said one. “The time and effort he puts into creating structured and effective courses is evident. Students leave his class with a real knowledge of the course material and a genuine sense of accomplishment.”

“[His] classes transformed the way I think, my approach to problem-solving and my relationship with hard things,” said another. “His challenges were realistic and practical but not without encouragement and growth. I am a better engineer, student, and person because of [his classes].”