After 5 years as a tire technician, a side business building off-road vehicles and a gig at an automotive dealership, Scott Newin realized he didn’t want to turn wrenches for the rest of his life.

Frustrated with his career and direction in school, Newin turned to friend and frequent customer Ron Mortimer, a member of the board of directors at Horrocks Engineers.

“I went down to Horrocks and told Ron I was frustrated about schooling,” Newin said. “I told him, ‘I don’t even know what an engineer does.’ He told me about his daily responsibilities and the company.”

Mortimer asked if Newin would leave his current job as a bank teller if an internship opened at Horrocks.

“In a heartbeat,” Newin said.

A few weeks later, the internship opportunity arose, and despite his inexperience, Newin won the interviewers over with his work ethic and determination. Once onboard at Horrocks, Mortimer encouraged him to meet with Dr. Saeed Moaveni, dean of Utah Valley University’s College of Engineering and Technology, about joining the university’s new civil engineering program.

“When I met with Saeed about the engineering program at UVU, my mind was already made up to become an engineer,” Newin said. “I know that I am by far not the smartest kid in class.”

“I work at it, but having to work full time and have a family in school was not easy, and I was nervous about the engineering program,” he continued. “Saeed helped me realize that the staff at UVU was more dedicated to the students’ well-being than big research-oriented schools — that the UVU program was going to show and teach students at a personal level rather than as a whole class. I felt this on day one with the staff.”

In 2020, UVU celebrated the first graduating class from its newly established engineering programs. A total of 21 students, including Newin, officially graduated in May with degrees in civil engineering, mechanical engineering, computer engineering, and electrical engineering, and they were honored with a graduation service in August.

Since its creation in 2018, the newly formed engineering department has become an established part of the College of Engineering and Technology. The engineering department is experiencing rapid growth and has quickly become one of the largest departments in the college.

This rapid growth could not have come at a better time, as opportunities for employment are booming within the engineering fields.

“At a time when we need more engineering graduates to address our societal needs, only 6% of college graduates in the United States are engineering majors,” Moaveni said.

It was this growing need from industry and vision for the future that prompted the development of four-year bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and electrical engineering, in addition to the already existing bachelor’s degree in computer engineering at UVU.

UVU’s engineering programs are specifically designed to prepare graduates with professional experience, internships and hands-on learning that will prepare them for a smooth transition into the workforce.

“The labs were the best thing for my education,” electrical engineering graduate Zimmerman said. “Hands-on learning is critical to an engineering degree. Being able to apply the theory helps solidify everything in my head.”

Finding innovative solutions to real-world problems is at the heart of what engineers do on a daily basis. Engineers of all fields apply math and science to find practical solutions for day-to-day problems. In 2016, the BLS projected a total of 139,300 new jobs in the industry by 2026.

To help meet this need, students in the engineering program at UVU are grounded in the fundamentals of engineering through a well-rounded education. Class sizes stay small, with emphasis placed on hands-on learning and working closely with professors and other engineering students.

In fall 2020, the engineering department hired six new full-time faculty members.

“I studied civil engineering at UVU because it felt like each professor was personally invested in my success,” civil engineering graduate Julie Hansen said. “The small class sizes really helped me to be able to work closely with professors to make sure that I understood the material in a way that prepared me for the professional field.”

Given the rapid growth of the engineering programs at UVU to date, the College of Engineering and Technology is working to secure funding for a new engineering building. This innovative building will be the first ‘smart building’ at UVU and will be a landmark for engineers and higher education facilities across the nation.

“The new engineering facility on UVU’s campus will provide a sustainable, state-of-the-art learning environment and experiential infrastructure,” Moaveni said. “It will meet the increasing demand for engineers who are innovative, highly capable leaders and skilled practitioners in their respective fields.”