Brigham Young University-Idaho now offers the largest automotive bachelor degree program in the country, and employers such as Ford, Toyota, and Fiat Chrysler are eager to hire BYU-Idaho interns and graduates.
Justin Miller, a faculty member in the Automotive Program, explained how these large automotive companies discovered BYU-Idaho.
"It begins with our students. When they obtain employment within the industry and impress their employers, those companies become very interested in hiring more students like them." Miller said. "BYU-Idaho graduates have developed a great reputation throughout the automotive industry in recent years."
Additionally, the National Association of Automotive Universities recently added BYU-Idaho as a member, which allows the university to be discovered by major automotive companies more easily.
"It is exciting because these companies only recruit from about four or five universities in the nation, and we made that list," Miller said. "We are actually the largest source of new employees and interns for some of these companies."
According to Miller, the success of the program in placing students in these companies comes partially from the passion of faculty members to help their students succeed.
"All of the faculty members I work with really care about the students they work with," Miller said.
Shawn Wible, a BYU-Idaho alumnus who graduated from the Automotive Program in December 2016, agrees that good faculty mentors lead to student success.
"They go above and beyond to make sure you get the career that you want," Wible said. "From what I have seen they are the most invested professors at the university and give hours and hours of their own time to make sure their students are getting the connections they need to."
This dedication has paid off-nearly 100 percent of students in the Automotive Program secure a job in the industry after graduation. Many of these students are getting hired at major automotive companies.
To help students understand how to market themselves in the automotive industry, the faculty have developed a course that teaches students to network and plan their careers. In this course, students have weekly meetings with automotive industry professionals and hear real-world insights from recent graduates about how they should be preparing in order to be successful in their future careers.
Miller noted that many students are getting jobs in three main areas: test engineering, service engineering, and management roles within the automotive industry. This means that BYU-Idaho graduates are helping to create the cars of the future, improve today's automobiles, and find better ways of conducting business within the industry.
The program endeavors to teach not only hard skills such as car maintenance and repair, but also soft skills that develop students into valuable assets for future employers.
"Everybody wants a good communicator and someone who works well with other people. These companies are looking for employees who can communicate both in writing and orally," Miller said. "They want someone who is dependable, not someone who is going to show up late to work. We teach our students to go the extra mile and work hard."
According to Miguel Lopez, a senior studying automotive engineering technology, the real-world experience offered by the Automotive Program creates amazing learning opportunities. These opportunities have led to multiple job offers for him as he prepares to graduate this spring.
"One thing I like the most about the Automotive Program is that we get to learn and expand our interpersonal and communication skills as we interact with customers to figure out vehicle diagnostics," Lopez said.
The Automotive Program, according to Lopez, teaches students more than just good practices when it comes to the automotive industry. It teaches them how to innovate in a way that makes the students valuable to future employers.
"I believe that anybody can eventually figure out any issue with vehicles," Lopez said. "There are a lot of people out there that guess their way to a solution. Our program teaches us to be problem solvers, not problem guessers. Being able to solve a problem, and do it right the first time, that's priceless."