Elke Howe came to the United States planning to stay for only a year, but – to Missouri Southern’s benefit – it didn’t work out that way.

The professor and department head of Engineering Technology is the 2017 recipient of the Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education. She was honored at a ceremony in Jefferson City on April 5.

Howe, who grew up in Germany, says her interest in engineering technology sprang out of a love for chemistry.

“I got a certificate related to chemistry,” she says. “Later, I found chemistry helped me a great deal when I was studying plastics engineering. I also loved math so it was a good combination of skills.”

She moved to the United States in 1989, originally planning only to stay about one year. Her husband came to attend flight school at Fort Scott, Kan., before returning to Germany to find work. “I arrived with three suitcases and a bicycle,” she says. “In the end, we decided to stay. It’s interesting how things develop, especially when you’re young and feel you can do almost anything.”

Howe, a Six Sigma Black Belt, has a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology and a master’s in business administration. She later obtained her doctorate in education from the University of Arkansas. Before coming to Missouri Southern in 2001, Howe worked as a sales engineer for MAMTC in Pittsburg, Kan., and as a process engineer for U.S. Precision Lens headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education is presented to an outstanding faculty member from each of Missouri’s four-year higher-education institutions.

“I am humbled, honored, and grateful to receive this award, especially because I work with colleagues who are just as deserving,” Howe says. “I feel privileged to work at Missouri Southern and to be able to make a difference in students’ lives as a teacher, advisor and mentor.”