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Big honor: U.W. Labs maintenance crew wins university's Distinguished Staff Award
The maintenance building at the U.W. Friday Harbor Labs has a jolly atmosphere. The six men who use it as their base make their coffee, connect with the team, plan their schedules, and then set out on their daily task of maintaining one of the nation's premier marine laboratories. (Research conducted here led to two Nobel prizes.)
Since March, there has been a little extra good humor in the air. On March 6, the work team learned it had won the University of Washington Distinguished Staff Award.
"This is a substantial honor," said administrator Scott Schwinge, one of four colleagues who nominated the team for the award. He said that the team competed against up to 250 other nominees from the six U.W. campuses. Those nominees included a wide range of professionals — from scientists to researchers to work teams like the one at the Labs. Competition was tough.
The team is composed of Fred Ellis Jr., Tom Campbell, George Iliff, Rick McCarthy, Tom Pieples and Jeff Seitz. Schwinge said that what sets the team apart is their flexibility and enterprise. "Every other person's title here is comprehensive and pre-defined, but these guys get a call and it could be anything."
Thus, daily work sees the men completing everything from basic utility maintenance to the building of scientific equipment. Work team member Ellis described how they put great stock in initiative and preventative maintenance, attending to problems before they become serious.
This is not the first time that employees at the Labs have received such an honor. In 1999, Senior Computer Specialist Craig Staude won the awards; Marine Operations Manager David Duggins won it in 2001.
Winning team members receive $5,000 prize to split between them, and will travel to Seattle on June 10 for a celebratory dinner with University President Mark Emmert.