Campus News

Undergraduate computer wizard wins Student Employee of the Year honors

Student worker Adam Blaschke is an institution in the food service and technology department.

Blaschke, the 2008 Student Employee of the Year, has become invaluable to the department thanks to his computer skills and attitude.

“It’s fair to say everybody knows Adam and everyone in the department respects him,” said William Kerr, the associate professor of food science and technology who nominated Blaschke. “He’s never quite happy until he solves the problem, which he usually does.”

Blaschke won the award April 15 at the program’s second annual luncheon for the top 100 student workers on campus. A nine-member committee of faculty and staff members scored each nominated student in five areas: reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism, uniqueness of contribution and attitude.

Blaschke, a junior majoring in computer science, excelled in all areas. His knowledge of computers extends across multiple platforms: Macintosh, Windows and Linux, and encompasses hardware, software, networking and HTML, which he uses to update the department’s Web site (

But the real blessing, said Kerr, is that Blaschke single-handedly saved the department since arriving in 2004.

It began when budget cuts forced the termination of an information technology job, leaving the department scrambling to find a stopgap to keep their systems running, Kerr said.

“We were really just looking for a way to get by for a few months until we figured out what to do,” Kerr said.

But Blaschke proved to be more than adequate to lend a hand in tough times. Instead of merely keeping up, the department’s media and computer systems surged ahead.

Thanks to his efforts, the department is able to videoconference, connect its microscopes to computers and fill out request forms for computer assistance online.

“My only concern is that in a year or so he’ll graduate and I’m afraid we won’t be able to replace him,” Kerr said.

For his part, Blaschke responds to his accolades with humility.

“I just started messing around on a computer one day, trying to solve problems” he said with a shrug. “I realized that I could do some of these things, and I’ve been going since then. It’s been very rewarding.”

Art Dunning, vice president for public service and outreach, delivered the keynote address at the luncheon. Himself a student worker during his college years at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Dunning encouraged the workers to use their on-campus jobs as a means for mentorships.

“Think about this as more than a paycheck,” he said.

“Make it a rich experience by engaging and learning,” he said. “We couldn’t run this institution without you.”