Ned Blackett

1965 – 1970

I grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s and was fascinated by the space program.  I decided early on that I wanted to be an engineer and do the things the NASA engineers were doing.

I enrolled in Weber State College in the fall of 1965 after my high school graduation and went into the Pre-Engineering program.  My intent was to stay at Weber State for two years and then transfer to the University of Utah to finish a degree in mechanical engineering.

 As the end of my second year approached, I realized that my goal of attending the U of U for my degree was not going to work out financially as well as logistically.  At that time, I was taking a handball class and got acquainted with another student who was in the Manufacturing Engineering Technology program.  It sounded interesting and he suggested that I go and talk to Prof. Kent Randall who was the department chair.

Prof. Randall sat me down and told me all about the program and that there were only four schools in the country that gave 4-year degrees in Manufacturing Engineering or Technology at that time and three of them were in Utah; Utah State, Weber State and BYU.  The fourth school was in Pennsylvania.  
He showed me the statistics where 100% of students finishing the program had multiple job offers before they graduated.  He pointed out that it was a “Hands On” curriculum where you learned the basics of manufacturing in multiple disciplines along with engineering principles and methodologies.  It was this “hands on” process, along with solid engineering focused on the needs of manufacturers that made Weber State graduates so attractive to large companies such as Ford, GE, Boeing, HP and IBM.

I immediately got into the program and found that I had too many credits that did not count towards the Manufacturing Engineering Technology degree.  Therefore, it would take me another three years to finish the degree.

Once into the classwork I realized that I loved everything about the program; from machining to welding to sheet metal and casting, along with programming and statistical process control as well as the traditional engineering classes, everything fit for me.

By the middle of my last year of school I had two great job offers, one from IBM and the other from General Electric.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take either one of those jobs.  The Vietnam War got in the way and I was drafted into the Army soon after graduation.  After I was discharged from the Army, I came to see Prof. Randall again.  He got me an interview with a small manufacturing company in Salt Lake City.  I got the job and that began a 42-year career in manufacturing that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Over my career I have worked in multiple companies. I have I been a Product Design Engineer, Manufacturing Engineer, Industrial Engineer, Engineering Manager, Quality Manager, Plant Superintendent as well as the owner of a one-man Tool Design company.  I’ve also been a consultant at a number of companies in the areas of Setup Reduction and Plant Layout.  

All in all, I’ve learned so much in all of these roles over the years; and as far as Manufacturing Engineering is concerned, I have never felt “Out Gunned” by anyone.  I owe all of this to the education I received at Weber State College.  It gave me the basics that would allow me to grow in my career and to succeed.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the professors, instructors and staff that were in the Engineering Technology Department at Weber State College when I was there.  Especially Kent Randall, Bob Wallentine, and Austin Seager.