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News|College of Engineering and Applied Science

Thom Edgar receives John P. “Jack” Ellbogen Lifetime Teaching Award

April 1, 2014 —

The John P. “Jack” Ellbogen Lifetime Teaching Award recognizes the long, distinguished and exemplary career of one senior faculty member who has excelled as a teacher at the University of Wyoming.

Thomas Viken (Thom) Edgar attended the University of Colorado, completing his BSCE in 1972.  He worked for Moretrench American Corp. for two years, headquartered in New Jersey.  Moretrench’s specialty is construction dewatering and he worked, either in design and/or construction, on approximately 150 projects, including subway stations in New York, Washington, DC and San Francisco, dry docks in Boston, Newport News and Cadiz, Spain, two nuclear power plants in Florida and Louisiana, and numerous building, bridge and dam foundations.  He also designed and installed the world’s largest ejector dewatering pumps for an interceptor sewer project on Staten Island.

Upon returning to Colorado, he attended Colorado State University, receiving an MS in Groundwater Hydrology and a Ph.D. in Geotechnical Engineering.  Thom’s love of teaching started at Moretrench, where he was assigned to teach the new hires “the pumps, pipes and jetting ropes” of the industry.  He started teaching Soil’s labs as an MS student and taught Statics and Soil Mechanics as a Ph.D. student.  Thom began teaching at the University of Wyoming in 1981 as a lecturer and became an Associate Professor in 1983 after finishing his Ph.D.  He became a member of Tau Beta Pi in 1997.  Over the years, he has taught eleven undergraduate and seven graduate courses.  He received the American Society of Engineering Education New Engineering Educator Excellence Award in 1987 and was named the UW Freshman Outstanding Professor in 1998.  He has been named the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Student Chapter Outstanding Faculty Member four times, a Mortar Board Top Prof four times and in 2002, received the John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award.  

Thom was an officer in the student chapter of the ASCE as an undergraduate and was an assistant faculty advisor at CSU.  He was the UW ASCE faculty advisor for 29 years during which time the chapter has received four Certificates of Commendation and the steel bridge has gone to national competition five times.  He has received the ASCE Zone III Faculty Advisor Certificate of Commendation three times and the ASCE Region 7 Faculty Advisor of the Year twice.  He has also been active in the state section of ASCE, and for his involvement at all levels, he received the ASCE Region 7 Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.  He has been active in the Wyoming Engineering Society since 1986 and was made an honorary member in 2009.  He was awarded the President’s Outstanding Engineer Award in 2010.Thom learned about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator at a UW conference on teaching and learning and quickly realized the insight it has for understanding people and their behavior.  It had a profound impact on his teaching and he became qualified to administer the MBTI in 1989.  He has given his students the MBTI as a part of their first lab in Soil Mechanics ever since.  He has given it to many other groups both on and off campus.

Thom started dating Sally Solien as a freshman at Boulder and they have been married 42 years.  Their son, Erik, graduated from UW in Chemical Engineering in 2004 and their daughter Elizabeth was named Outstanding Civil Engineering Graduate at Portland State University in 2011.  Thom has been very active at Trinity Lutheran Church and has been the chairman of the Internship Committee for 19 years.  Thom is a man of many hobbies including astronomy and building telescopes, building musical instruments, photography, scuba diving, skiing, golf and most recently, playing the classic style banjo.  After many years, he realized that his real hobby was collecting hobbies.


Photo: Dean Gasem presents Thom Edgar the John P. “Jack” Ellbogen Lifetime Teaching Award.


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