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BYU engineering professor earns prestigious award

Dr. Brent Webb adds to the legacy of award-winning engineering faculty at BYU.

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BYU mechanical engineering professor Brent Webb recently received the Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Award.

Of the 13 faculty awards bestowed by BYU, this accolade is the most prestigious. According to the Office of the Academic Vice President, “the recipient of the award must have demonstrated sustained and clear superiority in commitment to the Aims of a BYU Education.”

Michael Jensen, dean of the BYU Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering, said that Webb has been “excellent in everything he’s done” — in teaching, in research, and in helping students “understand the importance of his faith so that he can be an example to them.”

Webb has worked at BYU for over 35 years, including in administrative roles such as the executive director of the Research Office, associate academic vice president for research and graduate studies, and academic vice president. After 17 years in administration, Webb has returned to teaching and mentoring students in the mechanical engineering department.

“It was great to be back in the classroom, and it was just fun to be interacting with students again and helping them get excited about the world around them,” Webb said.

At the beginning of each year, the Academic Vice President’s Council and the deans of eleven colleges at BYU work together to identify a nominee from each college for the Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Award. The deans then prepare a one-page nomination for each candidate, which is evaluated along with teaching and scholarship data before a final selection is made.

The award recipient receives the title of Karl G. Maeser Distinguished University Professor at BYU’s annual faculty conference and presents a forum address to the university in the following year. In his address on June 6, 2023, Webb discussed BYU’s unique role as an institution “anchored in faith.”

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Photo by Matthew Norton

“You can do research at lots of other great universities. You can teach at lots of great other universities,” Webb said. “But BYU is the only place in the world where you build faith, and teach, and do research.”

Three of the last eight recipients of the Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Award have been professors from the College of Engineering. Webb follows in the footsteps of electrical engineering professor Randy Beard in 2017 and mechanical engineering professor Larry Howell in 2015.

“We hold faculty to high expectations of what they do while they're here,” said Jensen. “It means excellence in the classroom — caring about students. It means excellence in research, and in our college, that means mentoring students. ... And then of course, woven through all of that is that spiritually strengthening piece.”

“Our colleagues in this college are unapologetically and fiercely committed to great teaching,” Webb remarked. “They're interested in students, and not just in what they're learning technically, but who they are and what they're becoming.”