Passing a new Ford vehicle on the road today wouldn’t be possible without the work of Brigham Young University alumnus Matt Dalebout. The former mechanical engineering student has spent the past 16 years working at Ford on both the building and the business of automobiles.
Although he grew to love engineering as he progressed through the mechanical engineering program, it didn’t start out as Dalebout’s strength or passion, nor was it his only one.
“I had broad interests and probably wasn’t the best pure engineer out there,” Dalebout said. “I really love the discipline behind [engineering] and what it allows me to do, but I started to get the idea that I really wanted a business degree as well.”
The opportunity to dip into the business world came during his Capstone project.
“We were in a small group and the job description was ‘if it needs to be done that's your job’ and so I did everything from engineering to marketing,” Dalebout said.
This experience on his Capstone team led him back to the classroom to get his Master of Business Administration degree. After graduating again, he realized that he enjoyed business but still loved engineering, so he looked for a role that would allow him to use both. He found that position at Ford Motor Company.
“I always enjoyed vehicles and cars, and it was the perfect melding of business and engineering to work for Ford in strategy and planning,” Dalebout said. “I work in a business function that leans heavily on my engineering background and allows me to bridge that gap between the engineers that are responsible for the execution side of the business and the business side of things.”
Dalebout was behind the vehicle strategy and planning for the aluminum F-150 that launched in 2015, as well as the GT500. He then transitioned to electrification planning specifically for the MACH-E, all of these models are currently on the road. Five years ago he moved from a vehicle role to a commodity role focused on the high voltage batteries that go into battery electric vehicles.
When Dalebout first started at Ford, he thought he was there because it was a good way to leverage his business and engineering background to create products that he could tangibly see. However, his perspective has changed over his career.
“What really keeps me here is working on a product that influences people's lives every single day. Just about everybody has some sort of experience with a vehicle every day,” Dalebout said. “What I do sets the stage for what ends up on the road and ultimately influences people, hopefully influences them for the best.”
When he leaves work for the day, Dalebout can be found planning trips, in a shop at his home woodworking, or in the outdoors with his wife and four kids.
His advice for students was to first figure out what you want to do, “define your endgame”, then make a job out of finding a job that fits that passion.
“Dedicate a significant amount of your time in researching networking and exploring opportunities and then trying to obtain it,” Dalebout said. “That will help you understand if you need to go on and get more education, or if you want to go straight out and get into the workforce, and it will also allow you the ability to focus your efforts.”
Visit the alumni spotlight page to see how other former mechanical engineering students are making waves in the world of engineering.