REXBURG — The Automotive Program at Brigham Young University-Idaho is officially the largest automotive bachelor’s degree program in the United States.
The four-year program offers three bachelor’s degrees in automotive engineering technology, automotive technology management and advanced vehicle systems. It also has a two-year associate degree in automotive technology.
Josh Tollefson, program coordinator at BYU-Idaho’s Automotive Department, said the degrees have propelled students to new heights in the automotive education.
“There’s a lot of technical schools that provide certificates and associates degrees, but there’s not too many who do a full bachelor’s degree,” he said.
Tollefson said that the job placement rate for BYU-Idaho Automotive Program graduates is 97 percent. He credits that statistic to the unique opportunities that students have to experience challenges that professionals in the automotive industry face every day.
One of these was on June 8, when several BYU-Idaho students participated in the Society of Automotive Engineers supermileage competition in Michigan.
They presented a vehicle that they had been working on since 2015 with the goal of achieving the highest rate of miles per gallon possible.
“This was our first year competing,” Tollefson said. “They created a vehicle that got 408 miles per gallon.”
Tollefson added that opportunities like participating in the supermileage competition give students the automotive industry experience they need to get employers’ attention.
“It gives the students a real-world experience where they have a budget, time constraints and solving real problems,” he said. “It makes them really desirable in the industry.”
Even as the largest bachelor’s degree program in the country, the Automotive Program is still growing.
“We’ve had a 20 percent increase in students signing up for the program,” Tollefson said. “We’re excited with the way the program is going and what will be available for future students. We’re still not really well-known in the industry, and as graduates get out in the industry we’re hoping to foster more relationships in order to provide more opportunities for our students.”
According to Tollefson, most BYU-Idaho students in the Automotive Program take their skills and go out into corporate careers for companies like Toyota and GM.
“Many of them get experience at a local shop working on vehicles and use that experience to end up at companies working on prototype vehicles and other new automotive products,” he said.
Tollefson said that it’s all about the students getting the skills they need in life.
“We want our students to move on to successful careers, and not just graduate with a degree. Our programs are flexible and help students find a degree that matches their career, not find a career that matches their degree,” he said.
For more information on BYU-Idaho’s Automotive Program, visit byui.edu/automotive.