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John Currier '79 Th'81 Named 2023 Sylvanus Thayer Fellow

Oct 23, 2023   |   by Catha Mayor

Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth named John H. Currier '79 Th'81 posthumously as a Sylvanus Thayer Fellow for his service to Dartmouth Engineering education and distinguished achievements in his career.

John Currier's widow, Barbara (left), accepted the award from Dean Abramson on his behalf. (Photo by Mark Washburn)

During a celebration over Dartmouth's Homecoming weekend, Thayer's Board of Advisors and Dean Alexis Abramson recognized Currier for his dedication and contributions to the Dartmouth and Thayer communities, and "for serving as a model of inspiration for future generations of Dartmouth engineers."

"John's life truly embodied the spirit of the award to its fullest," said Abramson. "The impact of his work was truly far-reaching—from the hundreds of students he advised at Dartmouth, to the thousands of athletes, and the millions of orthopedic implant patients whose lives he improved through his work at Dartmouth Biomedical Engineering Center [DBEC]."

Currier was widely known for his pivotal role in the development of the Mobile Virtual Player (MVP), the innovative tackling dummy that made football safer for players everywhere. At Dartmouth, he was better known for his unfailing warmth, compassion, and dedication to his students, his colleagues, and to the mission of Thayer, where he worked for 27 years until his death in 2021.

The extended Currier family in attendance at Friday's celebration. To honor John's memory, the family intends to create a true endowment fund in his name to support Thayer students with financial need. (Photo by Mark Washburn)

After earning his AB and MS degrees in engineering from Dartmouth, Currier worked for Atlantic Richfield in Texas and Alaska before returning to his alma mater in 1994 to join DBEC as a research engineer. Currier was deeply connected to students and genuinely invested in their lives, and he advised and counseled them with both patience and passion. 

He gave tirelessly of his time, serving on review boards for signature Thayer courses. In 2013, he advised the ENGS 89/90 student team that developed the first MVP prototype, which led to the co-founding of MVP Robotics with legendary Dartmouth Football Coach, the late Buddy Teevens '79, and two former students. The MVP, memorably featured on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, has been widely adopted by teams in the NFL, college football, and youth leagues, as well as the military.

While his dedication to Thayer ran deep, Currier's love for family was unmatched. Barbara, his wife of 37 years, was also a research engineer at DBEC until her retirement in 2022. Their children, Zachary Th'12 and Katherine, were ever-present in Cumming Hall growing up, and Zach is now serving as a research engineer in the lab where his parents worked.

The distinction of Sylvanus Thayer Fellow was established by the Board of Advisors in 1978 to recognize alumni and friends who have set themselves apart in their commitment and service to Thayer, Dartmouth, and to the community at large.

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