USU Moab to expand tech offerings

This is an artist’s rendering for a new USU Moab building that will be among the new campus on Aggie Boulevard. Groundbreaking is set for early summer. Image courtesy of MHTN Architects
This is an artist’s rendering for a new USU Moab building that will be among the new campus on Aggie Boulevard. Groundbreaking is set for early summer. Image courtesy of MHTN Architects

Utah State University’s Moab campus will offer several new programs over the next few years that cater to the local population’s economic and workforce needs, according to USU Marketing Manager Loren Miller.

Most of the programs, which include degrees and certificates in career and technical concentrations, will be housed in a new building on Aggie Boulevard in southern Moab. The groundbreaking for the new facility is planned for early summer, said Miller.

“It is incredibly important for this community to be able to have a technical college offering,” said Stephanie Dahlstrom, Career and Technical Education (CTE) coordinator at USU Moab. “There are technical colleges throughout the State of Utah, and now USU Moab is serving that role in Grand County. If people want to change careers or learn a new trade, they don’t have to leave town to do so.”

USU Moab has offered a building construction program to high school students locally, and the program will soon expand to allow enrollment by community members.

Additionally, a new light fabrication and manufacturing program will expand career opportunities to prospective students, said Miller. This program will also include a certificate of completion program in welding.

The campus will also expand the automotive technology program, which will be housed at Grand County High School, he said.

Gary Straquadine, associate vice president for CTE in southeastern Utah, said while there is a long history of technical education at USU Eastern and USU Blanding, the new programs in Moab will fill a gap in southeastern Utah.

“This will provide more career and technical education in Grand County to help diversify the economy,” he said.

Straquadine said USU President Noelle E. Cockett has personally advocated for much of the planned growth at the USU Moab campus, directing new additions for the building that will allow for more technical education to be offered, said Miller.

The new automotive program addition is one example, he said.

“We need a basis for car mechanics — someone who understands transmissions, fuel systems and automobile technology,” Straquadine said. “Once we do that, we will pivot toward the outdoor power recreation equipment program.”

Aaron Thompson, a USU instructor in building construction and construction management in Moab, said the new space and attention to the program will permit his classes to engage in more hands-on training. In the past, students have relied on existing construction projects in the community to gain experience.

“The new building space will allow students greater flexibility in enrollment and program completion so they can obtain the skills needed to move on to getting a job,” he said.

Thompson said he looks forward to working under one roof with other academic programs.

Once the new building is constructed, there will be space not just for academic and technical courses, but also for Grand County Extension, the local 4-H program, and other community programs, Miller said.

Associate Vice President of USU Moab Lianna Etchberger said the additional CTE space is being made available following a review of programming needs. The building plans already included space for several CTE programs, and the university has been nimble in accounting for newly discovered needs — including fabrication and manufacturing, as well as building construction programs.

“Our new role as the technical college in Grand County is very exciting,” Etchberger said. “We collaborate closely with Grand County High School to allow a seamless transition from high school to our post-secondary CTE certificates in the areas of health professions, technical skills, and business and marketing.”

The cooperative relationship will expand opportunities for high school students and adults in the community to earn certificates that can stack into an applied associate degree in general technology and a bachelor’s degree in technology systems. That stackable path lets students “step off and back on” a defined career pathway to continue their education when they are ready, Etchberger said.

“We plan to expand our offerings in competency-based technical and professional certifications in the years to come,” she said.