Meet Dana Hedquist: Utah Alum & Professional Engineer


Dana Hedquist (B.S., '04) a longtime resident of Salt Lake City majored in Materials Science & Engineering at the University of Utah. As an alum of the program, Dana has gone on to become a successful Materials Engineer at Sport Court in Salt Lake City. Sport Court is a company that specializes in the construction of indoor and outdoor sports courts.

We recently interviewed Dana and his experiences here as a student at the U and in the workforce. Meet Dana Hedquist our MSE Alumni Spotlight of the month.

Q) Tell us a little bit about yourself. (Basic stats, where were you born? Where have you gone to school? Where are you working now? Future goals?

A) I was born and grew up in Salt Lake City. I graduated with a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Utah in 2004. I am currently working for Connor Sport Court, here in Salt Lake City, and have been there since 2002. I had the opportunity to work for Sport Court as an intern and became a full-time engineer after receiving my degree. I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids and any free time I have I can be found in the mountains fly fishing, backpacking, skiing, or motorcycling. 

Q) Why did you chose to enter the field of Materials Science & Engineering? What interested you in the program here at the University of Utah?

A) I originally was considering pharmacy as a career. An aptitude test that I took in high school said that I would be suited to being an engineer, in particular, a prosthetics engineer. This sounded very interesting to me and I started looking into programs that would prepare me for that field. 

Materials Science is a very diverse discipline. It involves studying and understanding the chemical and physical aspects of materials so that you can apply them to create new products or overcome limitations with existing technology.  You get exposed to many different fields including:  ceramics, composites, biomaterials, electronic materials, and polymers. 

Q) How did your experiences at the University of Utah prepare you for current position?

A) Being able to solve problems is critical to success. Much of working as an engineer involves not only identifying problems, but also having the knowledge and ability to correct them.  I feel that the U provided the education andb work ethic that is necessary to thrive in the workplace.

Q) What were some of  your favorites memories of the University of Utah and Salt Lake City?

A) I enjoyed the atmosphere on campus. Making friends and working with others that have common interests was very satisfying.

Q) What was the toughest course you took in the MSE program? What did you learn from it?

A) I would say MSE 3011 - Structural Analysis of Materials. The course was very challenging in that there was a strong emphasis on fine details and required an in-depth understanding of difficult concepts. It was beneficial because I was able to operate and become familiar with equipment and test methods used to analyze and identify different types of materials. The class work focused on the science of how and why a particular technique is employed. The hands on experience with the scanning electron microscope, energy dispersive spectroscopy, and x-ray diffraction was invaluable. I appreciated taking information that was learned in my studies and was able to put it to practical use.

Q) What clubs, organization and/or societies were you a part of here at the University? What did you enjoy about those experiences?

A) Did not belong to any.

Q) What advice would you give anyone interested in pursuing this field?

A) I enjoyed how Materials Science & Engineering gives you an understanding of the core sciences, but also takes that knowledge and applies it to something useful.  MSE is a very broad field.  It provides background in various areas of study and allows you to pursue a career in anything from research, development, design, to processing.

Q) What is your title at your current job? What is it that you do? What do you enjoy about it?

A) My job title is Materials Engineer. I am involved in the research and development of new and existing products. I oversee the material qualification testing as well as product performance and physical property testing. I love being able to combine my passion for sports with my background in science and engineering. Sport Court provides floors used in many applications from athletic surfaces to field-deployable military landing strips. It is exciting to work with organizations such as the NBA, NCAA, USTA, and others. For me, it is very satisfying watching an event like the NCAA Volleyball Championship tournament on TV and seeing the athletes playing on a floor that I helped design and produce. Also, seeing an Apache helicopter land on one of my products is pretty cool!

Q) Anything else you would want to share with other students interested in the field of MSE?

A) One of the best things about the MSE department was the small class sizes and amount of individual attention each student received.  I felt that the faculty and staff truly cared about me and made sure I was able to achieve my academic and future career goals.

Those wishing to contact Dana can do so by email.