BYU CEEN Alumni : Brandon Decker

Brandon Decker, BYU CEEN Alumni, graduated with his Master’s degree in August 2014. After graduating, Brandon started his career with Acute Engineering. Acute Engineering is a structural engineering firm focused on light frame residential work. This includes production homes, custom homes, townhouses, and apartments. They also do some small commercial projects in the area such as restaurants and hotels. Acute Engineering strives to provide sound engineering and quick turnaround for their clients (designers and architects). Brandon has enjoyed his experience at Acute Engineering and sees that his experiences at BYU have helped him to succeed in his job. “BYU provided me with important experiences that have helped me become a better engineer and help younger employees at Acute as they get started with us. At the most basic level, my time at BYU provided me with the background knowledge in engineering principles I would need in my job at Acute. I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for Statics, Mechanics of Materials, and Dynamics. That on-campus TA job helped me solidify the engineering basics and improve my ability to communicate those principles to others. Especially in our fast paced residential industry, the builders need plans that are clear and concise so they can meet their deadlines. The teaching assistant experience has also prepared me for one of my current responsibilities as trainer for the student engineers. As new opportunities and challenges present themselves at Acute, I have been able to see how BYU has given me the experiences necessary to take them on.

The primary office of Acute Engineering is in Orem, UT and they recently opened a second office in Draper, UT to better serve their Salt Lake County clients. Acute Engineering has found that their industry requires that they stay close to clients to be able to meet with them regularly. A majority of their clients are along the Wasatch Front and their projects are all over Utah, along with some projects in Nevada and Idaho. As a company, they emphasize growing from within. All of their current full-time engineers started with Acute while still in school and have grown within the company, so there is a precedent set for growth opportunities in the company. As a smaller company, there is plenty of room to grow into new positions as long as an employee is actively looking for opportunities. We also hope to continue expanding geographically. Opening our second office in Draper has allowed us to clearly see the steps necessary to open a new location and we hope to continue expanding in the future.

Acute Engineering was intentionally started near BYU to be able to hire on student engineers. The company’s founder, Paul Thorley, is a BYU graduate and wanted to keep close ties with the university and the talented students found there. Much of the growth Acute has seen since its inception has been due to the efforts and creativity of BYU student engineers and the plan is to continue bringing in more of the same as we continue growing.

I chose to work for Acute Engineering because of the variety of opportunities available in a smaller company. Paul Thorley, Founder and Principal Engineer, has always made it very clear that he wants all the employees in the company to be looking for ways for us to improve and grow. Within a few weeks of working for the company, any new employee is being asked if they see ways we can progress and change for the better. Ideas are always appreciated and every employee is encouraged to learn about the company as a whole, not just their personal responsibilities. While at BYU, I got a minor in Business Management and enjoyed the perspective I gained there, so this felt like a great opportunity to work in the engineering field while also participating in the business side of the company.

Brandon gave this advice to all BYU CEEN students, “I would encourage students to get involved in the various engineering clubs. I was able to be a part of BYU’s chapter of Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) and I made a lot of contacts through that club that have been important in my professional life. Other groups like ASCE also have provided helpful contacts. I would also encourage students to always be looking at the big picture in their classes. It is always a temptation to just memorize the equations and chug through them, but clients in the industry expect a higher level of structural understanding. Being able to anticipate how an architectural modification will change the structural design is a helpful skill when talking to architects.”