In 1962 when Larry DeVries received his Ph.D. in physics from the U, he said he never expected to become a professor. This semester, DeVries, a specialist in materials and adhesives, was recognized by the Department of Mechanical Engineering for reaching his 50th year as a professor.

He has served in several different positions, including as assistant professor in the early ’60s and senior associate dean of the College of Engineering in the late ’90s. Now recognized as a distinguished professor, he teaches both the advanced and undergraduate levels of strength in materials.

“It’s the excitement that brings me back every day,” he said. Born in 1933, DeVries grew up on a farm just outside of Ogden. He remembers growing up on the same street as famous Utahns John Willard Marriott and Tracy Hall.

Throughout his life, DeVries had the opportunity to travel across the world, lecturing in India, Europe, Japan and all over the United States. He has done consultant work abroad for mainstream corporations such as 3M and Emerson Electric. “Some of these companies tried to hire me full time, but I really liked what I was doing,” DeVries said.

“I always liked the variety, and I like working with the students.” DeVries can often be found in his office in the Merrill Engineering Building grading assignments and tests. His tests, which he hand-grades, always find their way back to the students the very next class period.

“Larry has been a tremendous contributor over the many years,” said Tim Ameel, chairman of the department. “He out-works everyone here—he’s the first one in the building every day.”

It’s the excitement that brings me back every day. Every time I graduate a student, I feel a certain amount of pride.

DeVries’ office is adorned with plaques and certificates of his many awards and recognitions. He has earned the 1996 Professor of the Year award, the 1993 Utah Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology, and several other distinctions by organizations across the nation.

Although he has been recognized for his achievements several times, DeVries said his favorite memories at the U include seeing students graduate and progress. His students have published about 100 theses and dissertations. “Every time I graduate a student, I feel a certain amount of pride,” he said.

DeVries describes the present as completely different from the year he started. He has adapted to every new technology presented to him, including items that today’s students might find trivial, such as a calculator or a computer. Aside from the technology, DeVries said the field as a whole has changed and expanded tremendously.

He also noted the sophistication and preparation of students has gone up since he started in the ’60s. DeVries has had season tickets to football games ever since he started. He currently holds front-row seats for himself and his family. “I’m a Ute through and through,” he said. DeVries enjoys watching football, basketball, gymnastics and other Ute sports with his children and grandchildren.

He is excited to be associated with other prestigious universities in the Pac-12, he said. After all of the chemistry and engineering work, DeVries has not forgotten his roots. He lives in Federal Heights and grows fresh fruit and vegetables in his garden at his home. He brings fresh-picked apples from his home in for students and faculty to enjoy. “Retirement is inevitable, but hopefully I’ve got a few more years to go before then,” DeVries said.

View the original story at the Daily Utah Chronicle. Article by Scott Wiseman, photo by Nathan Sweet.