Ed Hutchens receives Outstanding Staff Award

Ed Hutchens received the 2017 CAFE Outstanding Staff Awards in the Technical/Paraprofessional Category during Staff Appreciation Day. BAE's Agricultural Machine Research Lab has received several Outstanding Staff Awards. Lee Rechtin, Jimmy Ash, and Brett Childers have won the award in previous years. These awards are co-sponsored by Gamma Sigma Delta Honorary Society of Agriculture, the Agriculture and HES Alumni Association, and Partners in Agriculture. More information about the Outstanding Staff Awards and this year’s recipients is posted at https://administration.ca.uky.edu/cafe_outstanding_staff_awards.

The following, written by his nominators, Drs. Agouridis, Sama, and Montross, illustrates why Ed received the award.

Ed recently completed twenty years of service in the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. Hired in 1997 by Linus Walton and Scott Shearer, Ed quickly became the go-to person in the department for large equipment fabrication. He is extremely adept at bringing engineering drawings to life in the most efficient way possible. He is based in the department's Agricultural Machinery Research Laboratory (aka, The Shop) and is likely to be the first person you run into when visiting the facility.

Ed has provided immeasurable support our department, college, and university. What makes him outstanding is the sheer number of trades he's mastered in support of his regular job duties. His job title of Senior Engineering Technician simply does not convey the skills he provides on a daily basis. In addition to working with agricultural machinery, he serves as an electrician, electronics technician, plumber, welder, fabricator, painter, field technician, small engine mechanic, commercial truck driver, and teacher. A one-stop shop for technical support, Ed transforms faculty, staff, and student ideas into reality. A senior colleague said: "Ed is an asset to any project or job he lends himself to. He is a multi-talented problem solver who can be relied upon to fix the un-fixable, and often creates something out of very little."

Ed has provided substantial contributions to our department by developing working prototypes that directly impact our research, instruction, and outreach capacity. A few of his most impressive accomplishments include: design and fabrication of a fleet of autonomous field robots (a project that resulted in numerous refereed journal articles and a U.S. Patent), refurbishing the first prototype commercial high-clearance sprayer into a working system used to support college research, a 40 HP articulated autonomous hydrostatic vehicle, yield monitor test facility subsystems, crop harvesting and processing equipment, and hydraulic test bench components for teaching fluid power systems.

Another quality that makes Ed an outstanding staff member is his initiative to learn new things. Many of the projects assigned to him are one-off jobs that are under-defined and require him to make critical design decisions under short deadlines. Ed knows how to seek out and incorporate information into timely design solutions. The speed at which he can accomplish tasks while providing accurate work is admirable.

In addition to his outstanding technical capacity, Ed's personality makes him a pleasure to work with. He's a humble person who treats everyone with respect. He takes pride in his work, which translates to exceptional products that always meet or exceed expectations. He has a great sense of humor and keeps the mood light, which helps promote a positive work environment for those around him.

Ed's passion for working directly with students is one of his many characteristics that makes him stand out as an outstanding staff member. He regularly takes undergraduate and graduate students under his wing to train them in mechanical arts, which makes them better engineers through practical understanding of how things are made. A prime example is his long-term involvement in the UK Wildcat Pulling Team. The weeks leading up to the annual competition involve a massive all-hands-on-deck fabrication effort. Ed is always ready to jump in to "rescue" the students by volunteering long hours to ensure completion. His generosity in time and know-how are a major reason the team has showed up at the annual competition 19 years in row with a working tractor.