UETN’s CTO Jim Stewart Wins Service Award from the Quilt

Chief technology officer Jim Stewart of the Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN) is the 2022 Dave Reese Distinguished Service Award winner.

“Every day I begin and end by focusing on the work that I can do to contribute as best I can.” ~Jim Stewart

Chief technology officer Jim Stewart of the Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN) is the 2022 Dave Reese Distinguished Service Award winner. The honor was presented March 9, 2022 by The Quilt, a collaborative focused on developing advanced cyberinfrastructure for research and education networks.

The Quilt applauded Stewart’s drive to constantly improve and grow education-focused computer networks. “Jim is a pioneer of deploying new technology and user models for our community of regional networks including leading pilots for new wireless spectrum technologies as well as creating the foundation for statewide deployments of wireless single-sign on for member institutions,” the award citation said.

This award couldn’t have gone to a more deserving individual,” said UETN’s CEO Ray Timothy, “Jim’s knowledge of UETN’s network and infrastructure, Internet2 and management capabilities have helped move our organization forward for future development. His innovative projects have been instrumental in helping Utahns stay connected in their homes, medical facilities and education environments.”

UETN associate director Jeff Egly noted, “Technology is constantly evolving and Jim Stewart is extremely effective at assessing these changes, while collaborating with and listening to UETN’s stakeholders. He ensures that UETN transforms to the needs of education and telehealth in Utah. This is one of the many qualities that makes Jim an effective CTO and leader.”

Stewart has long focused on technology. In junior high, he built a HealthKit crystal radio. Later his father helped him develop an interest in computers. Together they researched and purchased an early desktop computer. “I haven’t been without a computer since then, probably somewhere back in 1980 or 1981,” Stewart said.

Stewart’s path to UETN took him across the country. Stewart attended the University of Utah in the late 1970s, but left to take a job as branch service manager for ITT Terryphone in Buffalo, N.Y. From there, he moved to jobs in Milwaukee, Washington, D.C., and California. He returned to Utah in 1988 to work for Intermountain Healthcare., where he helped the hospital group build a wide-area network. Stewart graduated from the University of Utah in 1997 with a degree in economics.

“My experiences building Intermountain Healthcare’s WAN helped me to see a vision of my future. I really enjoyed building that WAN and wanted to get back into that business, so it was a natural fit for me to come to UETN,” Stewart said.

Stewart took to heart lessons learned while working for the hospital group. “At Intermountain I learned that one indication of a healthy hospital system is the presence of construction projects,” he said. “It’s the same with Wide Area Networks, healthy networks are always under construction. If you stop building, the network will stagnate and, over time, become less and less useful.”

Stewart joined UEN as technical services director in 2000 after a few years working for a telecommunication company in Boise, Idaho. In 2014 the Utah Legislature merged the Utah Education Network with the Utah Telehealth Network, creating the Utah Education and Telehealth Network.

Stewart held the title of technical services director until 2015, when he was named chief technology officer. “Over the years I have taken on more responsibilities,” Stewart said. “Mostly new opportunities that our staff and I have worked on to move UETN forward and keep our services updated and meeting the needs of our stakeholders.”

In 22 years at UETN, Stewart said, “the most important contributions I’ve made are in providing a stable environment and hiring a lot of really great people, then making sure we know what needs to be done and getting out of the way.”

Among his accomplishments are:

The award is named for Dave Reese, a founding member of The Quilt, who eventually served as its CEO. Reese was an expert in research and education networks and spent his career at CENIC, California’s equivalent to UETN.

Stewart remembers Reese fondly. “We think of Dave as being part of our community, and he was. However, Dave was much more than a technologist. He was a caring man who spent a lot of time serving and helping others.”

“Dave was full of life and brought joy and fun on so many different levels. He touched many lives and all of us are better off for having known him. I’m very humbled to be associated with Dave, and a bit uncomfortable. I hope that this award is a way to remember Dave and inspire all of us to live better lives and enjoy the time we share.” Stewart said humbly.

Stewart’s background is also inspirational. He has served as a chair of the SC19 SCinet project in Denver and is the SC22 exhibits chair this fall in Dallas. SC is a series of international conferences for high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis.

Jim Stewart offers this advice for future technology leaders: “Enjoy the experiences; don’t be in too big a hurry. Stay in the game, stay curious, understand that much of what you think you know about the world will be very different —and may not exist — in the not-too-distant future.”

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