Beaury honored with George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Robert Beaury, interim director of the engineering entrepreneurship minor in the School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP), is one of six recipients of the George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The award, named after Penn State’s seventh president, is given to faculty members in recognition of their excellence in teaching at the undergraduate level. Recipients must be full-time faculty members for a minimum of three years and have undergraduate teaching as a primary responsibility.

With more than 30 years of experience in product development and marketing positions at technical firms, Beaury has been directly involved in the development of more than 100 new products and their introductory marketing campaigns.

A Penn State instructor since 2001, Beaury teaches a variety of engineering entrepreneurship and leadership courses that focus on creativity, innovation, product development and new business startups, including ENGR 310 and ENGR 407. In January 2015, he was appointed as the interim director of the engineering entrepreneurship minor.

Beaury’s teaching philosophy for these courses is simple — be passionate about entrepreneurship, leadership and teaching; hold students to high standards; encourage students to become fearless problem solvers; and commit to the long-term success and welfare of his students.

“Though this is a research university and we complete incredibly important research, I think our primary mission still is to be teaching undergraduate students in a manner that will help them for the rest of their lives, both personally and professionally,” he said.

This rings true with students, both past and present.

“The truest definition of an excellent teacher can only be seen in his or her ability to change lives. In this regard, Bob Beaury stands in a league that few teachers, or professors, can attain,” Ethan Wendle, a former student and president/CEO of DiamondBack Truck Covers, said. “To change a life requires a level of experience, care, time and dedication that few teachers have, or are able to give. I know because Bob offered me this, and helped change my life.”

Paul Girgis, a recent graduate and community and student entrepreneurship liaison for Invent Penn State, compared Beaury’s intensity and generosity to Robin Williams’ portrayal of John Keating in "Dead Poets Society."

“Bob’s leadership is rooted in the stresses, successes and failures of real-life experience — a deeply valued and refreshing quality from undergraduate students predominantly surrounded by academia,” he said. “In terms of teaching and challenging students to take ownership of their own learning, Bob is a kindhearted veteran professor that ambitious Penn State students dream of when they first apply to study at University Park. He’s sort of a rock star.”

Jennifer Volz, a Penn State senior majoring in international politics, said Beaury’s passion for teaching and entrepreneurship enticed her since the first day of ENGR 310.

“Throughout the semester, he combined high-quality instruction and personal anecdotes to achieve a perfect blend of information retention, interest in lessons and respect from his students,” she said.

Though he is honored and humbled to be a recipient of the Atherton Award, to Beaury, the real prize comes in the form of praise and gratitude from his students and peers.

“Those are things that I will remember and hold dear to my heart forever. That’s the real award,” he said.

The 2016 George W. Atherton Award recipients include: Robert Beaury, interim director, engineering entrepreneurship minor, College of Engineering, University Park; Nathan Greenauer, assistant professor, Division of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Penn State Berks; Timothy W. Kelsey, professor of agricultural economics, College of Agricultural Sciences, University Park; Megan L. Nagel, assistant professor of chemistry, Penn State Greater Allegheny; Nicholas J. Rowland, associate professor of sociology, Division of Education, Human Development, and Social Sciences, Penn State Altoona; Jaime Schultz, associate professor of kinesiology and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, College of Health and Human Development, University Park.

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Last Updated April 27, 2016