It was never enough for Jared Dunning to simply know that electronics worked. He had to know how they worked as well.
“As a kid, I would take things apart,” Dunning said. “To me, it’s kind of like the modern equivalent of magic. We’re able to talk to people over a thousand mile distances, we’re able to peer out into space, we’re able to make machines do things for us that we don’t do anymore. You can do anything. Technology has revolutionized the world, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
But in 2013, Dunning wasn’t a part of it. He was working the night shift in an assembly line job at a plant in Missouri. Compounding the fact that he didn’t find the work fulfilling, it took valuable time away from him to spend with his wife and child.
Then an opportunity came for him to realize his dream: his father-in-law had a property available for them to live rent-free in Fort Smith while he attended school, if that was what he wanted. It was.
He enrolled in the electronics technology program at UAFS, where he learned “how to apply common formulas to solve complex problems.”
“I learned programming techniques for the most popular equipment within my chosen field. More broadly, I learned what would be expected of me in the workforce and how to handle the common issues I may encounter therein,” he said. “I learned key communication skills that I could apply to the job search, interviews, and interpersonal relations within the organization.”
He also gained valuable leadership skills by starting a university chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), where he served as the vice chair.
And it was those extra bullets on his resume, coupled with the knowledge from the program, that made him stand out when he applied for a job as an FAA certified electronics technician/inspector at Garmin’s international headquarters in Olathe, Kansas.
“They had us take some pre-requisite testing, and I was fully prepared for it,” he said. “All the opportunities here helped me stand out. I was able to bring forth all these projects I’ve worked on, and the leadership opportunities to start and serve as vice chair for IEEE.”
Within two weeks of graduating in 2016, he received and accepted the job from Garmin. In that role, he assembles experimental prototypes and tests the effectiveness of those prototypes, among other engineering-related duties.
When he thinks back on his time at UAFS, one story comes to mind: when he had to miss a final exam in one of his classes to help look after his two children. When he retook the final exam, the professor brought toys and snacks for his two year-old to keep him occupied while Dunning took the test.
“The staff at UAFS went above and beyond to help me succeed, and I'm forever grateful to them for everything they did to make this possible for me and my family,” he said. “They put in the effort to make sure you’re getting the material, but they also put forth that extra effort to make sure you’re employable after graduation.”
For more information on the electronics technology program at UAFS, visit http://academics.uafs.edu/majors-minors/electronics-technology.