Hello, my name is George Utkov, and I am from Memphis, TN. Currently, I am a junior pursuing a major in mechanical engineering and a minor in business administration. I chose the Lyle School of Engineering because of the countless resources and opportunities the school provides to its students. When I was comparing my college choices, I felt like SMU and the Lyle School would prepare me the best to succeed not only in my engineering career but also in life. This school provides our students with “engineering-only” career fairs, résumé building workshops, mock-interviews and small, personal classes. Students and professors collaborate on projects allowing everyone at every level of training to learn from each other. In addition, our leader, Dean Marc Christensen, is one of the coolest, most approachable men at SMU.
The administrators at Lyle strongly encourage our students to get involved in campus life, recognizing there is a lot more to the college experience than just academics. I serve as the Vice President of the Interfraternity Council, participate on the men’s club soccer squad, serve as a representative in a learning disabilities support group, lead a small devotional group, and have recently interned for Bryce Corporation – an integrated manufacturer providing superior flexible packaging to a variety of markets. To top it off, the summer after my freshman year, I had the fabulous opportunity to participate in both the SMU-in-Taos and the SMU-in-Italy programs. Both experiences were truly amazing.
In Taos, I took two courses: Mountain Sports (to fulfill a wellness requirement) and a cultural study of the Pueblo Indians (to fulfill a perspectives elective). From May 11 through May 29, I not only learned about Native Americans on their own land, but also fly-fished, mountain biked, and hiked in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen – I honestly could not believe that I was actually getting class credit for this.
Two weeks after finishing classes in Taos, I embarked on another journey: the six week SMU-in-Italy program. I took two courses: Arts and Architecture and Beginners Drawing. During those six weeks, I traveled across Italy, visiting cities such as Venice, Milan, Sienna, Pienza, Orvietto, Florence and Rome. The entire trip was more amazing than I could have ever imagined, but the private tour of St. Peters in Vatican City was the high point. Lying on the floor in the Sistine Chapel, looking up at arguably the greatest work of art ever created, absolutely took my breath away – Seriously, who gets course credit to lay on the floor of the Sistine Chapel?
Although I did not take any engineering courses during my summer studies, the Lyle School encouraged me to attend both programs to broaden my perspective and become a more global citizen through these programs. I truly appreciate their holistic approach to education.