Faculty Spotlight: Roger Hoy

East Campus pillars at enterance
Roger Hoy
Roger Hoy

About Roger Hoy: 
I am the director of the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory and a professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. I have extensive knowledge in the area of agricultural tractor safety standards. I oversee all testing that takes place at NTTL and at manufacturer’s locations. My research is in these testing areas, including ROPS (roll-over protective structure), FOPS (falling object protective structure), sound level, drawbar, PTO, hydraulic flow and hydraulic hitch lift testing. I also advise the Nebraska Tractor Test Board of Engineers and am a faculty advisor to UNL’s Quarter Scale Tractor Team. 

What drew you to UNL?   
It was a combination of things. Prior to joining UNL I worked for John Deere in Waterloo, Iowa, at the Product Engineering Center. My job there brought me to Lincoln to the NTTL generally once a year to meet with Leonard Bashford, who was the director at the time and  a member of the Tractor Test Board. When I visited in December 2005, Leonard was planning to retire and Ron Yoder, at the time the relatively new chair of the BSE department, asked me if I would be interested in the position. I started in August of 2006. Also, I have a lot of relatives in the area. My father was born in Lincoln and his side of the  family farms near Roca and Davey. 

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?  
When I first learned that I had to teach a senior level course to agricultural engineering majors, I was pretty intimidated. I had not done any teaching since working on my doctorate in the late 1980s at North Carolina State and remembered that it was a lot of work. I managed to put teaching off until the fall of 2007, once I started I found that I wasn’t too bad at it, and really enjoyed it. Over the years, a number of students have provided a lot of positive feedback and encouragement to me.  While working in industry, I occasionally got to work with or manage a new engineering employee or sometimes an intern but that was one-on-one. To stand in front of a class of really bright students and connect with them is great.  As I mastered the management of the NTTL, I found that I had more time available for students and had things to offer outside of the classroom such as mentoring, career advice and, sometimes, life lessons. With the NTTL, I also had the ability to employee a lot of students which really give me a huge opportunity to engage with them and really get to know them.  Many will tell you of slow mornings at the NTTL that turn into visits to Virginia’s Travelers Cafe on Cornhusker for breakfast and just talking. Today, I am teaching a freshman level class, a senior level machinery design class and co-teaching our capstone senior design class. I have greatly enjoyed getting to know a lot of students and even better yet being able to advise and mentor these students. I am proud of the fact that regardless of the state of the machinery sector, all of my students have found good quality jobs in their field and many have had multiple opportunities to pick from.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?  
There are several to pick from but they all come down to the same thing; the students I get to advise, teach and mentor that come here at 18 as kids and leave at 21 or 22 as responsible adults who are ready to immediately start making a meaningful contribution. I don’t think that I ever realized how much growing takes place during these years and what an amazing trust students and parents place in us to allow us to have such influence during this period. Many of the students I work with are farm kids from small schools who are going to college in a much larger, urban environment.  So what I really consider my greatest achievement and even my legacy are the fantastic students we turn out that go on to continue the profession of agricultural engineering which I also chose.  I have maintained relationships with many of them after graduation and being a part of their lives is very rewarding. I have changed the structure and dynamic of the NTTL to not only test tractors as required by law but expose students to real world engineering as well.  The staff at the NTTL have bought into this philosophy and make it even better.  

Finally, one of the achievements that I am proud of is the story of Caleb Lindhorst. Caleb is an agricultural engineering major whoworked at the NTTL. Caleb had just finished the fall semester of his junior year in 2013 when he was badly injured in a car accident. The accident resulted in head trauma and Caleb was in a coma for 39 days. He was initially not expected to live and then was not expected to awaken from the coma. When he did wake up from the coma he endured a long therapy process that still goes on to this day. Caleb received all sorts of discouragement about his cognitive abilities, even to the point of one therapist telling him that he would not be able to return to college. When  Caleb awoke and immediately told me he wanted to go on to the ¼ scale tractor competition in 2014, I was pretty sure that his cognitive abilities were largely intact. Caleb and I worked together on an engineering course for much of 2014 while he was institutionalized in Omaha. As Caleb tells it, for a while I was the only one who believed in his cognitive capabilities. To make a long story short, Caleb returned to UNL full time in the spring of 2015 and he won’t mind my reporting that his first semester back as a full time student his semester GPA was over 3.8. Much of this is due to the tremendous determination that Caleb continues to display and I was happy I could help. Caleb is still a work in progress but he is going to graduate next December and has already received a lot of interest by impressing a number of potential employers.  

What is something that most people don’t know about you?  
I’m an open book!

What is your life like outside of work? 
I enjoy time with my wife Diane and our cat, who is really in charge. We enjoy eating out, attending theatrical productions and travel. We generally try to take a cruise somewhere every year and keep up with many of the people we have met all over the world. We also have kids and grandkids that we enjoy visiting and having them visit us.