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BYU-Idaho used to be a dot on the map for large automotive companies like Ford, Chrysler and Toyota. However, the automotive program at BYU-I has grown into the largest four-year program in the nation according to Justin Miller, an automotive professor at BYU-I.
Big name automotive companies only recruit from five or six schools in the country. BYU-I is on this short list Miller said.
“We have a 98 percent, just about 100 percent, placement for all of our students in the program,” said Josh Tollefson, the automotive program department chair.
Miller said there are about 340 students in the program. He explained large companies come specifically to BYU-I for interns and full-time positions. These students and alumni are making a huge impact in these work places.
“They are open to change and improvement to themselves and their curriculum in order to give us the best education and highest possibility of success in a career,” said Andrew Blomdal, a recruiter from Toyota. “Their humility is what creates the unique environment there and drives the program and students to be so successful.”
Blomdals’ experience at BYU-I has made him hopeful for the future of the automotive program.
“It’s no surprise our visit in the fall was awesome,” Blomdal said. “Both student and staff made a great impression, so I’m hoping BYU-I’s share of the recruits gets bigger as time goes on because of that.”
Miller said these kinds of impressions are what the program hopes to make more and more as it continues to grow.
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Tollefson said the department really focuses on student success and working with the students.
He said the faculty encourages the students to “choose a career that they can use their degree for.”
Miller said this industry has one of the lowest turnover rates and is a great
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field to go into for people who love automobiles and learning how to fix real problems.
However, Miller said that the program is not for everyone but it is still a great option.
Miller explained a lot of people think if they major in automotive then they are going to be a mechanic, but he says that is not the case for most people studying it. He said only the associates students end up doing that.
Miller said it is the perfect major for people who love hands on learning. Tollefson said most lessons are taught in the classroom, then students go and apply what they learned on cars from the community.
Tollefson explained that with the program growing, they are hiring faculty to keep up with the demand of new students.
According to the BYU-Idaho Automotive Alumni & Student Newsletter, the program has grown 20 percent in the past few years
The growth of the BYU-I automotive program matches the growth found in the job industry. One that is seen across the nation. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the automotive industry has grown in the thosands from 2009-2016. BYU-I students have seen this growth and are taking advantage of these new job opportunities.