BYU professor earns one of the best faculty awards

Jaren Wilkey/BYU
Professor Howell explains how the compliant mechanism functions to the students. One of the biggest research projects Howell is working on deals with complaint mechanisms. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

One professor embodies what it means to work hard and help students succeed in school. He was the recipient of one of the most prestigious faculty awards given at BYU this year.

Larry L. Howell, a engineering professor, can be found working hard with students in the Crabtree building, south of the Wilkinson Center.

Howell is a leader to the hundreds of students he teaches, mentors and works with. From research projects to mentoring students in class, Howell encompasses what it means to be a great professor.

He has been the head of the engineering department and has excelled in the field of mechanical engineering in the 21 years he has worked at BYU.

BYU gives out awards each year to some of the best faculty members on campus. Each award highlights some of the efforts professors and faculty have done to make BYU a better place.

Howell received the Karl Maeser Distinguished Award, which is given to one of the best faculty members of the year. Howell is humble about the accomplishment.

“I try to make BYU a better place for students to learn and grow,” he said.

Howell has done a lot of research about complaint mechanisms as a mechanical engineer. Complaint mechanisms are an alternative to using bolts and bearings for mechanical devices. These alternatives use the flexibility of their material to perform and serve the same purpose as normal metal.

With advancements in complaint mechanisms, Howell and others have started to use origami to explore the bounds of mechanical engineering. The origami being used is much more complicated than what kids make in elementary school. Howell explained why they use origami in their research.

“A lot of the research is origami based,” Howell said. “Origami artists have discovered some really interesting things that can be applied to engineering.”

Dale R. Tree, a professor and associate chair of the mechanical engineering department, expressed his great respect for Howell’s work ethic.

“Larry is a very hard worker,” Tree said. “The key is, he is constantly working on something. He doesn’t waste time.”

A photo of the Professor Howell and his family. Professor Howell loves to spend time with his family when he isn’t working on his research and teaching. (Larry Howell)

Howell works with many undergraduate and graduate students for his research. “What I have enjoyed the most is working with outstanding students, and that’s really what I have enjoyed and is most rewarding,” Howell said. “I have been fortunate to work with really great people.”

Howell’s research requires working with many different companies and fundraising groups to raise money for his projects.

“To get funding, the companies have to be impressed by what the research projects will accomplish,” Howell said.

The faculty award winner has also had a lot of success in working with big companies, including NASA. He mentioned that the biggest selling point when asking for funding is the ability to prove his theories to others.

Howell said he is a family man at heart. He has four children and said he considers them his pride and joy.

“My family is everything to me,” Howell said. “I loved to show my kids when they were kids my different inventions I did at school.”


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