Nakane and Zender receive President’s Staff Awards

It is 8pm on a warm summer evening in July. While most of the faculty and staff are enjoying a fine stroll down the beach or a nice dinner at the patio, Jon and Bernard remain closeted in a laboratory in in the Hebb Building. Around them are 40-50 Engineering Physics students, working on their Engineering Physics 253 projects – building robots that will knock out targets, pick up bricks, or climb a wall. 

This, describes a typical summer night for Jon and Bernhard, Lab Director and Engineering Technician for the Engineering Physics Laboratory.

Remembered by Dominic Tong, president of the Engineering Physics student society, “Jon will take the time to talk to his students, no matter the circumstances.” Similarly, Bernhard shared the enthusiasm and commitment to support students. “Jon and Bernhard are the heart and soul of Engineering Physics, two men who inspire us by their curiosity and their commitment to helping us muddle our way through making our ideas a reality.”

Recently, their dedication towards student learning was recognized by the President's Staff Awards - awards that we consider to be well-deserved.

Jon (second from the left, row 1), Bernhard (centre in the back) and other recipients of the 2013 President's Awards for Staff. Source: UBC Focus on People

"The Engineering Physics program simply wouldn't exist as it is today without Jon and Bernhard's enthusiasm, passion for teaching, and selfless hard work. Jon and Bernhard, are at the core of the students' design experience in Engineering Physics, and touch every aspect of the program's design training,” said Andre Marziali, Program Director for Engineering Physics. Their contribution is hardly confined within the scope of the program. “As if that wasn't enough, their dedication to the program extends to countless hours volunteering in organizing and running both recruitment and outreach events, showcasing the excitement of engineering and physics to young people in our community, and allowing us to recruit the very best students.” This is not to mention that Jon recently welcomed a baby girl to his family, and Bernard is an active volunteer for Big Brothers.

There is no doubt that Jon and Bernhard enjoy their jobs very much. “Supporting engineering physics students at the project lab with their capstone projects is exciting and unpredictable on a daily basis. I enjoy this keen and outstanding crowd of students,” said Bernhard. When we asked Jon what motivates him to do what he is doing, he shared, “Fun! Also, I do remember the relevant experiences and things people did for me while I was a student, and I hope to deliver the same experiences at big teachable moments and not-so-big-but-memorable moments to our own crop of students.”

What’s next for them? Both of them highlighted the importance of sharing the excitement of engineering physics to a larger audience. Recently, they reached out to other departments within Engineering, and extended some of the hands-on lab activities to first year students. “We are starting to see new ways to teach content that appears to have gone missing as a result of societal changes and the way children currently grow up,” Bernhard said.

“So a few more activities like that, without stretching too far, would be a nice goal,” Jon said.

“That, and to clean my office.”

Congratulations again to both Jon and Bernhard for receiving the President’s Staff Awards! 

By Theresa Liao, Communications Coordinator, UBC Physics & Astronomy.


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