Utah Tech renovates Smith Computer Center in partnership with tech companies

The finished product of the newly renovated Smith Computer Center located off University Avenue in St. George. Mia Tom | Sun News Daily

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Utah Tech University, in partnership with Vasion, Techridge and Zonos, had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly remodeled Smith Computer Center Aug. 25.

Renovations of the Smith Computer Center gave students new classrooms, study spaces and internship opportunities.

These companies in total donated $250,000. This money will go to revamping student study spaces and future needs of the center. It will also help offer programming to students who are majoring in tech-related studies.

The remodel of the Smith Computer Center includes new study spaces, classrooms and collaborative rooms. Whiteboards, network access, computers and other work supplies were added to help students collaborate with fellow classmates.

Joe Francom, professor of computer science and department chair, said: “I hope that [this] will allow us to work in closer partnership with the companies. That we can utilize them and bring in some real-world experience into our classes.”

With students and community in mind, this center is housing a space for new opportunities. Students who are majoring in fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics have new chances and paths to get internships and possible employment after college with big tech companies in southern Utah.

Because of the money donated to the university, students have more ways to build resumes and execute thoughts and ideas. The center now has new whiteboards, collaboration areas and renovated classrooms giving a more comfortable setting for students.

Eric Pederson, dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology, said, “And as you look at those relationships, and you continue to build them, and they find out about needs that are at the university, that will help students be better prepared for their companies.”

The College of SET has worked with other private sectors in the past and is grateful for their contributions not only through donations to the university but also directly to the students.

Pederson said, “So we collaborate with our partners in the private sector and make sure that our curriculum builds skill sets that they need.”

With Utah Tech being a polytechnic university with “an ethos of innovation and entrepreneurship,” this partnership adds new ways for students to have hands-on experience. This can be through internships with local tech companies, hands-on activities, and working on real-world problems in a classroom setting.

During the remodeling open house press conference, Zonos CEO Clint Reid said, “There are other tech companies in the community, and there are opportunities here to work for tech companies that are doing amazing things.”

Along with classroom technology and remodeled space, retro games like “Street Fighter” and “Mortal Kombat” are available for students to play. Students are able to code the games and then build and assemble the games to play in the center.

Alyssa Muller, a senior computer science major from Riverton, said she was hoping there would be more student input into the renovations like better bathrooms, drinking fountains and vending machines.

“I hope [the center] grows,” Muller said. “I think it would be great to have more here to create competition and new opportunities.”

Richard “Biff” Williams, the president of Utah Tech, said at a press conference: “Events like these get us really excited because this is the mission of Utah Tech University. When we partner with our community to provide career-ready, hands-on, and just experiences that will prepare our students for the future.”

The Smith Computer Center, located on University Parkway, is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.