The sound of loud chains clanking and metal car parts buzzing leads students to an auto shop in the corner of the Mark Austin Building — a garage that is setting students up for continual success after graduation.
The BYU-Idaho Automotive Department manages the automotive bachelor’s degree program and serves students with hands-on experience unlike any other classroom setting here on campus.
According to the department’s website, “Students may earn an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Automotive Technology in a period of two school years with an internship in the summer between. Upon completion of the associate degree, students are qualified to enter the workforce as entry level service technicians with a strong technical background and some good hands-on experience.”
Students are expected to perform on real cars that are “road ready” following the students’ inspections.
Their website continues, “Students graduating from this program are qualified to work in management programs for the automotive manufacturing and service industries. Many of our graduates work for Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, and others. Others work in dealerships or automotive specialty shops.”
Josh Tollefson, the automotive program coordinator, said there is a variety of students currently in the program, which is just under 400.
“We have students coming here from all over the world, really,” Tollefson said.
The program focuses on preparing students outside of the college setting and getting them set to work in the automotive industry around the world.
Justin Miles, a senior studying advanced vehicle systems, stressed the importance of submerging oneself in the program.
“Get involved,” Miles said. “Put yourself out there. Get experience because employers really like that.”
And the program has the success to show, as it has generated successful alumni.
Hailey Byrd, an alumna of the Automotive Department, is currently working for Ford Motor Company in Michigan as a technical support analyst.
“One of the reasons I joined the auto major was not only for the extensive learning, but for the team-family atmosphere,” Byrd said. “The fundamentals that I learned in my classes, especially electrical, have helped me to be successful in my current position. Electrical knowledge is vital nowadays.”
Additional alumni of the automotive program like Byrd work at corporations including Tesla, Toyota and Volkswagen and can be found working in positions ranging from product engineers to technicians.
Visit the Automotive Department’s website to learn more about the program and to find out about career and internship opportunities.