Pair earn first mechanical engineering technology degrees from CMU
Justin Grant and Sergio Galindo decided halfway through Colorado Mesa University’s mechanical engineering partnership program with the University of Colorado it wasn’t the major for them.
Instead, they chose a different degree: a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering technology.
On May 18, Galindo, 23, and Grant, 22, will become the first Colorado Mesa students to graduate with the new degree.
The mechanical engineering technology program began in January 2010, a year and a half after the CMU/CU mechanical engineering program launched. That program graduated its first students last May. Tim Brower, who directs both programs, said the mechanical engineering graduates are more focused on using theories of engineering to design new procedures, while mechanical engineering technology students are more hands-on, designing and building products and mechanical systems.
“I think it’s necessary (to have the two) because not everyone has that theoretical bent that’s associated with a mechanical engineering degree,” Brower said.
Grant said the greater emphasis on manufacturing and machining classes in the mechanical engineering technology program appealed to him more than the calculus and science-heavy mechanical engineering program.
“It seemed more natural because I’d worked as a welder fabricator,” he said.
While mechanical engineering partnership students earn a University of Colorado degree, mechanical engineering technology students earn a Colorado Mesa University degree. Still, students from both programs take many of the same beginning classes and cover the same subjects, although in different proportions. That’s how Grant and Galindo were able to leave the mechanical engineering program in 2011 without losing much ground in their studies. They both took five years to graduate and had to gather some extra electives as upper classmen to graduate from Colorado Mesa, but the program can be done in four years, even if students start on the mechanical engineering track.
“A student doesn’t have to choose immediately, so they can see if they’re more theoretical or hands-on in the first two years,” Brower said.
There are four students signed up to graduate from the technology program next year and nine juniors signed up for program classes in 2013-14. Brower said he believes there is a market for mechanical engineering technology graduates in the Grand Valley, although some companies may not yet realize how well those graduates’ skill sets match their needs.
“It will be an issue of educating them what mechanical engineering technology means,” he said.
Grant, a 2008 graduate of Fruita Monument High School, said the local job market has been tricky and the pay being offered is sometimes larger in other states and towns. He has secured employment following graduation in the oil and gas industry, while Galindo, a 2007 graduate of Plateau Valley High School, is looking for biomedical work in Portland, Ore.
Grant’s senior project, which he worked on with a mechanical engineering student, is a miniature sensor for pressurized machines. Galindo, who worked on his project with three mechanical engineering students, helped make a device that helps paraplegics walk. The device resembles a pair of leg braces attached to a battery that rests on a walker equipped with joy sticks that control the “legs.”
“(Mechanical engineering technology) education comes with the ability to be really flexible. What you learn here can be applicable to any industry,” Galindo said. “My goal is to leave something that helps the human race.”