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Utah Tech University

Utah Tech University: Building Career Readiness through an Innovative Educational Vision

Bridging Education and Industry

The best universities play a crucial role in shaping the minds of future leaders, innovators, and thinkers. They provide a platform where students can gain comprehensive knowledge, develop critical thinking skills, and enrich creativity. These institutions emphasize professional development and hands-on learning, nurturing an environment where students can innovate and gain real-world, active learning experiences. This approach to education is essential in today’s competitive job market, where practical experience and industry-relevant skills are highly valued by employers.

One such institution that embodies this approach is Utah Tech University. Fully embracing its “active learning. active life.” philosophy, Utah Tech is a comprehensive polytechnic university. With nearly 300 academic programs, the university is committed to providing students with the tools and experiences necessary to thrive in their chosen fields. This commitment is reflected in its personalized education approach in which active learning experiences vary from student to student, but translate to one thing for all: career readiness.

Utah Tech’s impactful work extends beyond the classroom. They believe in the core principle of preparing students to be fully ready to enter the workforce upon graduation. This is accomplished by ensuring that students have plenty of hands-on learning opportunities, whether it’s interning with local tech start-up companies, teaching in local school district classrooms, conducting undergraduate research, or helping the community through service learning.

Let’s explore how Utah Tech University is tailoring the future of education through its innovative approach:

Embracing Active Learning for Career Readiness

Through its “active learning. active life.” approach to education, Utah Tech University serves as the quintessential example of a comprehensive polytechnic university. With an emphasis on career readiness and hands-on learning across all of its nearly 300 academic programs, Utah Tech is committed to preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives.

Courtney White, the interim president of Utah Tech University, stated, “The core of our education is to prepare our students to be fully ready to enter the workforce the day they graduate. To accomplish this, our students make, create, and innovate in the classroom and online while gaining real-world active learning experiences in a wide variety of ways.”

In fact, 95% of Utah Tech graduates are employed or entering graduate school or the military within six months of graduation.

Internship Experience

For Jake Harber, a junior majoring in communication, experiencing the workforce firsthand through a professional internship is making a significant difference in his education. As a student, he works on public-facing projects, such as magazine stories, news articles, and social media posts.

He shared, “Having an internship has been incredibly impactful and supplemental to the education I’ve received at Utah Tech University. By applying the skills I’m learning in the classroom in a real-world setting, I feel more career-ready and confident entering the workforce. Plus, thanks to my internship, I have already started growing my professional network.”

From Classroom to Real-World Experience

When students are in the classroom, they are fully immersed in an individualized learning experience, thanks to an average class size of 23 students. As part of class assignments, students in the technical writing program participate in a community-based learning component by writing grant proposals on behalf of community organizations to help them secure much-needed resources.

Additionally, students in Utah Tech’s Modern Languages Program are deeply involved with the implementation of the dual language immersion program in the local school district. Media students run a radio station open to the community, and the Digital Forensics Crime Lab assists with law enforcement agencies’ investigations. All these activities offer students real-world experience directly related to their future careers.

Other active learning experiences prepare students for diverse career opportunities that meet workforce demands in the region’s top three industries: tourism, construction, and healthcare. For example, when Black Desert began building a golf course, resort, and convention center in the area, the university added a hospitality management program to train the thousands of top-level, skilled workers the resort would need.

Innovative Solutions Through Education

In addition to building programs that prepare the future workforce for the region’s top industries, the university is working to add programs and affiliated academic centers in up-and-coming industries relevant to Utah Tech’s unique location in St. George, Utah. For instance, the university is leading the way in developing the DeserTech industry to leverage abundant resources such as sunlight and create solutions to challenges such as limited access to water that come with living in a desert climate.

Furthermore, the university is expanding its genomics offerings to collaborate with Intermountain Health and build on the healthcare system’s local research and expertise in this field. Utah Tech is also enhancing the endurance sports tech industry for the benefit of athletes who travel from all around the globe to participate in annual events such as the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship, Huntsman World Senior Games, and St. George Marathon that are hosted in the university’s backyard.

Utah Tech also maintains strong partnerships with industry leaders to provide opportunities for students to participate in real-world learning. For example, the university and St. George Regional Hospital collaborate on research, share resources, and work together to enable students to participate in clinical experiences at the hospital.

Aligning Education with Industry Needs

Taking advantage of the vast knowledge and experience in its local community, Utah Tech has assembled advisory boards for each of its six academic colleges, some specific majors, and all its accredited clinical programs. Industry leaders ensure that the university’s classroom instruction remains relevant and aligned with the evolving needs in the field.

Advisory board members also connect the university with community partners who ensure students’ hands-on learning opportunities include key experiences specific to their respective fields. Additionally, many of the university’s administrators serve on boards of area businesses and organizations to stay connected to key industry leaders and provide additional opportunities for staying informed of top employers’ needs.

The Supportive Role of Career Services

Utah Tech makes extra support easily accessible to students by housing Career Services right in the heart of campus. Here, students receive assistance with searching for the right internship, job, or graduate school. The experienced and knowledgeable staff of Career Services is even available to teach students how to create the perfect resume and cover letter, conduct mock job interviews, and coach them on how to create the perfect career plan.

Dottie Catlin, the executive director of career services at the university, states, “We prepare students to be successful at work at all phases of their career, whether it’s practical experiences related to their major or full-time jobs after graduation.”

To meet the individual needs of students, the center offers one-on-one career coaching to help students decide what industries are a good fit for them based on career assessment results and research. Additionally, Career Services offers career fairs, where students can meet hundreds of employers; a Career Workshop class in which 18 modules prepare students for job searching; and networking nights with the university’s Alumni Association so current students can connect with graduates who studied in the same field.

Outside of central career services, individual colleges work to prepare students to graduate career-ready. For example, the College of Humanities & Social Sciences offers a careers class every semester that explores careers associated with the humanities and social sciences. Additionally, the university has a regional pathway coordinator who links the university to regional employers, workforce services, and the local technical college to build a network of stakeholders who are working collaboratively to provide education-to-workforce pathways.

Bridging Academia and Technology

In a revolutionary move, Utah Tech has partnered with the technology workforce development company Pluralsight. This partnership offers the Utah Tech community access to more than 7,000 self-paced technology programs.

As a result, students in all areas of study can enhance their technology-based skills and digital fluency, preparing them to incorporate the latest technology into everything they do. Specifically, these noncredit-bearing courses offer labs and skill assessments that ensure students understand what they are learning and, when applicable, prepare them for relevant certification tests.

All these initiatives add up to one primary goal: ensuring that a Utah Tech education accurately reflects what is happening in real industry workplaces.

The Impact of Intimate Class Sizes on Learning

“Attending Utah Tech has been instrumental in my education,” Trevor Moser, a junior majoring in accounting, states. He also adds, “The intimate class sizes create a sense of community where professors know you. This environment has allowed me to share thoughts in discussions, receive valuable feedback, and build strong personal connections with classmates and professors. As a result, I am more confident in expressing ideas and have had plenty of hands-on learning opportunities.”

The university’s commitment to active learning and career readiness has resonated with students and the community, as demonstrated by the institution’s explosive growth. In fact, in the last decade alone, Utah Tech has increased the number of academic programs by 230%, grown student enrollment by 50%, built or renovated 28 buildings, and nearly doubled scholarship funds awarded to students.

The Promise of Cooperative Education

Looking forward, Utah Tech will launch a cooperative education program in the fall. In this program, students will work full-time for a semester at a cooperating organization to gain extensive professional work experience and prepare for their first jobs. As Utah Tech continues to grow, it will only expand the depth and breadth of its impact.

White said, “For over a century, Utah Tech University has offered life-changing educational opportunities that set its graduates and workforce up for continued success.” Further, he added, “By pairing the most affordable tuition in the state with high-quality, hands-on learning opportunities, we are in a great position to continue making a difference in the lives of its students and community members for generations to come.”