Name: Chris Mattson
BYU employee since: 2006
My job at BYU is… I’m a professor of mechanical engineering. I teach and do research on the engineering design process, which is the process used to come up with ideas and then systematically evolve them into technological products that can be made and sold.
I’m currently working on… developing a better understanding of how engineered products impact society — for better or for worse — and how impacts ripple through society. This has caused us to work on developing mathematical models of socio-technical systems. I believe such models can help engineers better understand the impacts of the design decisions they make while developing a product.
I get most excited about my work... when I am learning something new. This happens when I am super engaged in the material I am teaching or when I listen to students and let them teach me what they’ve learned.
Students don’t think I notice… how hard they are working, and how much pressure they are under as university students. What you students are doing is difficult! It’s supposed to be hard — not crippling, but hard. You might not see it yet, but you are growing, stretching, and becoming more capable because of your university training.
My favorite part about teaching is… working with students who are truly interested in mastering the topic and being mentored along the way. I also like giving lectures and preparing lecture and learning material.
When I have 30 minutes of free time, you can find me… playing the bass guitar. I have a Fender Jazz Bass. I have played the 6-string guitar for decades but decided last year to learn something new, so I chose the bass guitar.
My advice to incoming freshmen is… plan now to take a study abroad semester. You won’t regret it. But you probably will regret never doing it.
My advice to graduating seniors is… as you leave BYU and find yourself at yet another fork in the road — which will then be followed by other forks further down the road — choose faith, choose to believe, choose to serve, choose to give, choose to love, choose to be Christ-like, choose to follow the inspiration you receive. Choose these things — they will not let you down.
I’ve hiked Y Mountain... more than 100 times. In preparation for a big hike in Yosemite that I did with my dad when he retired, I hiked the Y every day for three months. Surprisingly, I saw the same people on the trail day after day.
My favorite spot on campus is… the trail that follows the contour of the Maeser Building hill from the Life Sciences Building to the Tanner Building. From time to time a change of scenery is a good thing. That trail is a great place for me to ponder and reorient. Walking it often makes me more productive once I’m back in my office.
My favorite Cougar athlete is… Scott Sterling. ;)
On Saturday mornings you’ll find me… in my garage making something.
The one thing that you can always find in my refrigerator is… sriracha sauce (well that’s the only thing I keep in the mechanical engineering department refrigerator).
My dream car is… an old 1970s Toyota Land Cruiser (FJ40).