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Midvale Journal

Engineer, entrepreneur advises students to gain skills for successful future

Feb 22, 2022 09:07PM ● By Julie Slama

As part of the Meet the Pros lectures series, biomedical engineer and entrepreneur Bryce Smith speaks to Hillcrest High School students about learning the material rather than worrying about a letter grade or being in a certain class. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

“Gather tools for your tool belt.”

That is the advice that biomedical engineer and entrepreneur Bryce Smith advised Hillcrest High students during his presentation in the Meet the Pros lecture series.

“Having a B grade doesn’t matter in the long run; it’s just a blip in the road,” he said. “You need to gather tools now in high school and especially in college. Go and get the tools that you need to succeed and then you’re more useful.”

Basic computer skills, math and problem-solving, Smith said, have been especially helpful, but the right tools, or skills, can help direct students in the direction of their future and also, provide them alternative pathways as they did in his life.

Smith started college after graduating from Alta High in 2004.

“I don’t think I really had much direction. I enjoyed mathematics and that made more sense to me than literature. That mostly guided me in the career path and choices I made,” he said about heading into the aerospace engineering career.

However, facing high demand for jobs against more experienced engineers, Smith turned to medical device development, a field he has worked in the past 10 years.

Even that wasn’t a smooth entryway. After returning from serving a church mission, Smith said some of his tools, such as math, were a bit rusty.

“I’d tell students who say they hate math or don’t get it, to go back and start over in math so you can grasp it better,” he said. “Kids feel pressure, some type of external expectation, to measure up to their peers and see if they’re in advanced math or trigonometry or a certain AP class, then they have to be in it too.  It’s a competitive nature, but causes high anxiety. Looking back at high school, I should probably have redone math to fill in some of those gaps, but I did it in college. Then, it was rock solid and from then on forward, math was no longer a roadblock for me because I made sure I understood the math and all I had to learn was the new concepts.”

Through his tenure as a principal mechanical engineer, Smith is a partner in six different companies.

“I tend to be the person who sits down with idea people and there will be questions, ‘Is it a market that is worth pursing’ or ‘Is it a technology that is worth developing?’ Then, they turn to me with my mechanical engineering background, and ask ‘Is it possible?’ I’m more the guy in the room who tries to answer the functional questions,” he said.

Smith said his “tools in his tool belt” have proven to be instrumental in his career.

“A lot of people go into business and people major in entrepreneurship, but it turns out, ideas are cheap. The hard part isn’t coming up with the idea, it’s the execution. An idea is appreciated, but much more important is how to take the idea to a reality,” he said. “So, start building that tool belt with tools. Those will dictate what you’re going to be doing. You can look and say, these are the tools I have, this is where I fit in, and this is what I can do.”

Earlier this school year, students had a chance to hear Fresno Grizzlies ticket sales director Jesse Sanchez, a Hillcrest 2005 alum, who was the former director of Utah Warrior Rugby group ticketing and community events.