John E. Boyer, Jr.
Associate Professor, Manufacturing Engineering Technology, Tenured SME Teacher of the Year – 1982
September 1981 – August 1988
Classes Taught: Mechanics, Strengths of Materials, Machine Design, Statistical Process Control, Drafting, Cost Estimating, Production & Inventory Control, Quality Control, various logistics classes, various math, and MET Senior Project.
When I started working on the MET faculty, I was viewed as reasonably strict. Probably because I “played it down the middle” and didn’t know where the “wiggle room” was regarding class cards and so forth. Later on, I got the hang of things and really enjoyed my time on the MET faculty. In 1988, I left with mixed feelings … new opportunities in industry were calling and I pursued them. But I will always have great memories of Weber State. Now that I am semi-retired, I volunteer time as a student-athlete tutor at Weber State in a variety of mostly business-related topics. I’ve stayed very close to Weber State Sports … mostly football and basketball. I have been a season ticket holder in both for years and served on the Wildcat Club Board of Directors for four years.
During my second year on the faculty (1982), personal computers emerged and I enjoyed taking a lead in getting personal computer applications into the curriculum. Our first was a 4MHz (yes mega, not giga) … then a 6MHz machine showed up … and then … WOW … a color monitor! We paid about $3,000 for a 20Mbyte Iomega Bernoulli Box for shared disk space. We have come a looooong ways! Two applications that I remember bringing on board were SIMAN (a simulation application) and SAMM (an ERP program). I met Eric Eastman, the author of SAMM, at a trade show in Salt Lake City in 1982 and he donated a SAMM system to Weber State. Many students and I had fun with SIMAN and SAMM. About that time LOTUS 1-2-3 was surfacing as the spreadsheet of choice. I spent hours learning how to use a spreadsheet not realizing how much of a valuable tool that (actually Excel) would become for me and my students in the years ahead. Not to mention all of the other MS-Office applications (Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Project).
During my seven years I must have had over 1,000 students in my classes. Most were there to learn, work, and get a degree. I always enjoyed spending time with the ones who came to me with a thought-provoking question or who were really stuck after racking their brains to figure out a concept or problem. I had all kinds of time for them. But some really drove me nuts … the ones who would come to my office after cutting class (for no good reason) and asked if we covered anything important. Really??
Our Department Chair, Bob Wallentine, had my back. I knew this early on when many students in my first mechanics class didn’t do so well on the first exam. He got some complaints and I got called in. He took a look at the exam and told me it looked reasonable … and I appreciated that. He supported me. It motivated me to do a better job preparing the class for the next exam. They did much better.
Our Dean, Kent Randall, always supported me. He called me Boy-yeah. One day in my second year he fessed up and told me how I got hired. He told me that late in the summer of 1981 the quarter was nearly ready to begin and he was short two faculty. He wasn’t sure how he was going to fill the void. Then he said “and you walked in the door”. Literally. I had always wanted to teach at the college level, but thought it would happen when I was 60, not 30. I had gotten a taste of teaching at Weber State the previous winter quarter doing a night class for the Logistics program. So, that summer I thought I’d stop by Weber State to see if there were any openings … I walked in the door. Dean Randall’s secretary, Ginger, told me to wait just a minute while she got Kent. He interviewed me on the spot and the ball was rolling.
Dean Randall had my back, too. In early 1983, Dr. Gil Moore, of Morton-Thiokol, offered Weber State an opportunity to be the lead player in a NASA Space Shuttle Get-Away-Special (GAS) project in collaboration with Utah State, New Mexico State, the FAA, Morton-Thiokol, and many space science related companies. We approached Kent and he supported it all the way. And, he paved the way with President Brady to secure his full support. Over a 2-year period, we had 45 MET and EET students participate in the design, fabrication, deployment, and operational tracking of NUSAT-I. It was successfully launched on April 29, 1985 on space shuttle mission STS-51B by astronaut Don Lind, now a Utah resident. Weber State was the very first to launch a satellite from a GAS cannister. Three days before the launch, a technical problem arose and NASA was going to scrub NUSAT’s deployment. Finding this out, Don worked with NASA to fix the issue, and the launch was back on. Just this past week, I visited Don at his home in Smithfield, UT. He is 91 now. After 36 years, I was finally able to thank him in person for all he did for Weber State and NUSAT. We both enjoyed the visit very much. Certainly, the NUSAT experience was the highlight of my seven years at Weber State. It was exciting to watch students work tirelessly to make NUSAT a success. We all learned so much from industry leaders, the FAA, NASA, and from each other. NUSAT-I was the first of several more of the small satellite projects at Weber State, and it was rewarding for me to be a part of getting it started.
That’s my story. I’d do it all over again.