Utah Tech accepts the role as the only technical university in Utah


For the first time in its six-year history, Thursday’s Silicon Slopes technology conference was represented by a polytechnic university in Beheve province.

Prior to this year, there was no true polytechnic university in Utah. The university, formerly known as Dixie State, then transferred to Utah Tech University in May.

Utah Tech University President Richard Williams was joined by Board of Trustees member Dave Elkington and Silicon Slopes founder and CEO Clint Betts on Thursday to discuss the university’s new era.

“We looked at all the universities that had this polytechnic focus. We mapped it on a map of the United States and there was this big hole in the western United States, and in the middle of that hole was St. George, Utah,” Williams said.

With that, the university saw an opportunity and eventually grabbed him when he transferred to Utah Tech.

For a state as big as Utah’s tech hub, it makes sense to have a technical university to provide a skilled workforce for the many companies that call Utah home, a point Betts brought up in Elkington.

“We all know there’s not enough engineering talent (and) not enough computer science talent,” Elkington said.

Elkington, who explained that the university’s transition is aimed at correcting a problem, pointed out that the school is not only in a name change, but in a “change of focus”. In the year He pointed to a $100 million science, engineering and technology building to be built on the Utah Tech campus in 2020.

“There’s a fabrication area, engineering labs, machine shops,” Elkington said. “I don’t think a lot of people realize what this thing has turned into, and I think it’s going to bring the next generation of entrepreneurs, the next generation to the state of Utah and, frankly, the country.”

Utah Tech is home to the Atwood Innovation Plaza, which has filed more than 195 patents since its conception.

“If you look globally, we’re in the top 25 in the world for how many patents are granted at a university, not just in Utah,” Williams said.

Both Elkington and Williams said the university welcomes collaboration and input from Utah’s tech sector.

In March, the university partnered with Pluralsight, a technology workforce development company, to help students enhance their education with technology-based skills.

“We are in transition and looking forward to the day when we become a true polytechnic university,” said Chris Guymon, assistant provost for adult and professional learning at Utah Tech. “It became very, very clear that our students in particular — but also our faculty and staff and our alumni — need to be more experienced around technology.”

Students, faculty and staff can take any of the 7,000 courses offered by Pluralsight. The new connection will provide current university students, faculty and staff with unlimited access to Pluralsight Skills, an online platform that teaches technology-based skills that enable people to succeed in today’s digital world.

“We need experts for learning opportunities for our students. Come and share with us, let’s build some internships, externships, whatever we need,” Williams said. “We want the technology companies to come in and partner with teachers. Give us projects that you want us to do that we can incorporate into our curriculum.”

Elkington also took the opportunity to emphasize that the university “isn’t the Dixie state it used to be.”

“It’s a different feeling. Come get involved. This is your university, this is the University of Silicon Slopes,” Elkington said.

“As you know, technology is changing.”





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