Dixie State University added a Mechanical Engineering bachelors program to the College of Science and Technology, which held an open house Feb. 22 in celebration of the addition.
The event highlighted areas of study such as robotics, mechanical design and manufacturing. Two of St. George’s robotics teams — Lego League and the Prestidigitators — all of whom are between the ages of 9 and 14, were at the event displaying the robots they had built and programmed.
Individuals attending the open house could operate some of the robots the children had brought. The robotics teams had set up an obstacle course where people could control small BB-8’s and navigate the course.
Eric Pedersen, dean of science and technology, said, “In the community we’ve had lots of Lego League robotics and talent pipeline activities for the youth and this is the next step in the pathway for kids who want to go into robotics or mechanical engineering.”
One of the rooms at the Smith building had 3-D printers producing projects from current mechanical engineering students, and one was printing a vase. There were also devices on display that mechanical engineers often design and build, which guests could interact with. These were such contraptions as levers, pulleys and devices people see in their homes.
“This program is such an exciting piece for the community because we have seen a need for growth in the tech sector,” said David Christensen, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
The program will provide hands-on experience for community members and students coming into the program. Training for Manufacturer Installed Certificate qualification is in the works to give students and community members the ability to take their ideas, model them using CAD software and have them prototyped on a 3-D printer, laser cutter or CDC machine, Christensen said.
According to an article by Deseret News, St. George’s tech sector is growing, and the ridge where the old airport is located will become a mini-mecca of technology based businesses. DSU Films and Dixie Applied Technology College already have a presence at that site.
Neil Storey, a junior mechanical engineering major from Lehi, said: “This is something I have been waiting for a very long time. I came to Dixie State initially to just do the beginning classes, math and physics. Now that they have this, I’m actually planning on sticking around.”
The College of Science and Technology is taking DSU’s motto of “active learning. active life” to heart and making the program very hands-on. Of the 21 engineering courses, 18 will be hands on with a lab or design project students will need to complete, mechanical engineering professor Trevor Terrill said.
“I think mechanical engineering opens up a learning environment for creating things, making things, building things and obviously engineering things, but [it] is really needed in the community,” Pedersen said. “Especially a community that wants to build on a tech work force and an engineering work force basis.”
The program begins in fall 2018 and registration will be open this spring. The department expects a minimum of 40 students to sign up for the new program, and as DSU focuses on computer sciences, software development, and mechanical engineering, there is hope the school will provide support for the growing job needs in St. George’s technical industry.