After 43 years of distinguished service to the University, current Mechanical Engineering Projects Lab Supervisor Ken Forster will retire. In appreciation of his time at BYU, Ken has been selected as a 2014 President’s Appreciation Award recipient. The President’s Appreciation awards are selected by the university’s Administrative Advisory Council from nominees who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the university.
Ken Forster started working for BYU in February of 1971. At the time, he worked part time at the Research Machine Shop while he was a full-time student majoring in Manufacturing Technology.
At that time, The Research Machine shop was doing significant manufacturing of high pressure presses that were used in making synthetic diamonds and other high pressure research in the Chemistry and Physics Departments. It was when the Utah Valley synthetic diamond boom was about to begin.
On January 1st of 1973, Ken Forster became the first full time machinist/welder (other than the supervisor) in the Research Machine Shop.
In July 1995 Ken accepted the opportunity to supervise the Mechanical Engineering Projects Lab and has been there ever since.
“After May 1st, I will have worked under 7 of the 13 University Presidents,” Forster observed, “Presidents Wilkinson through Worthen.”
The majority of 1,000+ mechanical engineering students currently at BYU have spent time in Ken’s shop. The senior level Capstone program is known nationally, and Ken has helped many of those Capstone students over the years by assisting them with the design and manufacturing of their projects.
Ken teaches mini-classes in the shop to help the students. His impressive safety record is due to his experience and awareness. He can sense a new sound and immediately perceive an imminent problem. His love for mentoring students will be sorely missed upon his retirement.
“I thought it was high time I spent more time with my family, and more time getting house and yard projects done that have been neglected for too long,” Ken said of his retirement. “I love teaching students how to correctly use the machine tools in the Projects Lab and am sure I will miss that experience.”
Ken Forster’s future plans include continued service in the church and family.