WyoTech Graduate Becomes Innovative Instructor
August 9, 2017 | By Mark Reynolds
At 6:30 a.m. every morning Devin Fly arrives at the WyoTech campus in Laramie, Wyoming, eager to begin class with his students. Fly has taught core classes in the automotive program for 12 years. The classrooms are familiar territory for Fly, a 1995 WyoTech Laramie graduate himself. After working for 10 years in a Toyota dealership and reaching the highest level of promotion at his location, Fly was eager to continue his career in the place that trained him many years prior.
For the first 10 years at WyoTech, Fly worked hard teaching students but often felt as though his campus could be doing more. Whenever the previous corporate leadership asked for suggestions he always provided them feedback but never saw anything come of it.
“We had done surveys on various things and nothing came about,” Fly said.
In 2015 after WyoTech was acquired by Zenith, an opportunity arose for the campuses to tell leadership what they believed would make the student experience better. Through the Campaign for Innovation an initiative of ECMC Foundation, all Zenith campus faculty and staff are invited to submit grant proposals for projects they wanted to spearhead at their campus. The Campaign is an effort to generate innovative ideas that promote student success. Fly saw this as an opportunity to enhance the WyoTech curriculum as well as a trial for new technology that would be hitting the market.
Fly noted, “I was reading about the Campaign for Innovation and it was worded in a different way, like, ‘we’re not just interested in your ideas, we’re willing to also fund them.’ It sparked my interest and seemed like a great opportunity for the campus.”
In the first two years of the Campaign for Innovation, Fly had an impressive four grants approved. When asked about his favorite, he hesitated saying, “They’ve all been pretty good to be honest!”
However, the grant he is most enthusiastic about is his manufacturing completion grant that was awarded for $21,640 in 2015. The grant funding provided a set of complimentary tools for students who finished their training and also allowed for the purchase of a Mazda RX8 project car that the students used to practice their skills. The grant led to additional funding, including his Mopar Cap grant in 2016 which provided funding to purchase three more vehicles students could use for practice. In turn, Fly’s projects have resulted in Mopar Cap transitioning to be part of the automotive core curriculum.
Student response has been tremendously positive. Student engagement increased with their ability to take control of large projects, such as the new RX8 car. Community was also fostered with the grants. After the project car was built and ready to drive, WyoTech staff invited students to a Saturday BBQ where they could test drive the car on-campus. In previous years 10-12 students attended the BBQ; however, this year 49 students came to test drive the new car and dozens more came to enjoy lunch and watch.
Fly believes everyone in the organization has innovative ideas.
“I think a lot of people within our organization have a lot of good ideas and the Campaign for Innovation is a way to express some of those ideas,” he said. “Whether they are used or not, they’re out there. Getting the idea out there is what is key.”
Fly is continuing to implement his innovative ideas on campus and is looking forward to more opportunities to help his students succeed.
Mark Reynolds is the Executive Director of WyoTech.