EPHRAIM—Two Snow College faculty members were recognized at commencement last week as winners of prestigious teaching awards.
Ken Avery, instructor in industrial mechanics, was called to the podium to receive the J. Elliott and Maxine Cameron Faculty Service Award during the Richfield campus commencement on Thursday, May 5, while Garth Sorensen, professor and former chairman of engineering, was recognized as winner of the Jesse Madsen Brady Teaching Award the next day during the Ephraim commencement.
At the Ephraim ceremony, President Brad Cook said Avery and Sorensen had been “selected by their peers for their academic leadership and extraordinary service.”
Sorensen is himself a Snow College graduate. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at Utah State University, and was the only engineering student in his class to get a perfect score on the engineering graduate exam.
He worked for Hewlett-Packard, a startup company called IComp and the Space Dynamics Laboratory at Utah State before joining the Snow faculty in 1996.
According to a tribute in the Snow commencement program, Sorensen built the computer science program at Snow and was instrumental in establishing the bachelor’s of science in software engineering.
The commencement program describes Sorensen’s teaching as “clearly communicated, well organized and structured in a way that enables all types of students to grow academically.”
He has served as vice president, and this past year as president, of the Faculty Association. He has also served on the Ephraim City Council.
Avery joined the faculty in 2013 after 36 years in the paving, gravel, coal, cement, construction, mechanics and trucking industries. His titles have included production foreman and plant manager.
According to a citation in the commencement program, Avery has built the industrial mechanics program to serve the needs of traditional and nontraditional students alike.
He helped the program acquire simulators that give students comprehensive instruction in operating manufacturing equipment while keeping them safe.
In the past year, he secured $500,000 in external funding, which covered tuition for adult learners and additional equipment for use in teaching.
“Ken has repackaged the industrial mechanics courses into a hybrid model, where…students do most of their work online, then come to the shop on their own schedule to practice and demonstrate mastery on simulators,” the commencement program says.
According to the citation in the program, Avery is in his lab an hour before classes begin into the late afternoons as well as on weekends to meet with students as they come to demonstrate the skills learned in classes.