Mechanical Engineering Graduate Named CECS Valedictorian

Published: April 18, 2023 | Author: Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 4 minutes

College of Engineering and Computational Sciences valedictorian Toby McMurrayToby McMurray has been named the 2023 valedictorian for Southern Utah University’s College of Engineering and Computational Sciences (CECS). He is graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering and plans to work with the United States Air Force as well as attend graduate school after graduation.

“Toby is an excellent, well-rounded student,” said Dr. Scott Munro, professor of engineering at SUU. “His academic performance is spectacular, but it's more than that. He connects the classroom material to realistic applications. Toby is not doing assignments just to get them done. He asks questions and seeks to find the answers to real problems and how they fit into the big picture. This aspect, combined with his diligent and hard-working attitude will make him successful as he continues beyond SUU.”

There are many reasons why McMurray chose to come to SUU, including his acceptance of a good scholarship. Following his attendance at the university, McMurray has grown to love SUU even more.

While SUU has been a big part of McMurray’s academic journey, he has also learned a lot about community. He has cultivated his own community with his fellow classmates and professors.

“My professors know how to push me and how to help me extend my limits,” said McMurray. “They understand my aptitude and it’s been really helpful as I’ve started blending what I’ve learned into my career path and facilitating connections in the field through my professors.”

Many professors in SUU’s Engineering Department have impacted McMurray during his time at SUU, but he offers his special thanks to Dr. Munro for being a great role model. He also offers his gratitude to the rest of the 2023 CECS graduating class for their friendship and hard work, and his family for supporting him, especially his brother, who’s in the Air Force.

McMurray grew up in Eagle Mountain, Utah and moved to Bountiful, Utah when he was in middle school. He had many hobbies growing up, but his main focus was gymnastics, which he did for over a decade. The intense training hours and commitment helped him become dedicated to his major in college and disciplined in other areas of his life.

McMurray wasn’t sure what he wanted to do when he started college, but he was good at math, and decided to see where that would lead him. He quickly found mechanical engineering and began to pursue it as a major and a future career.

School has always been something that McMurray was passionate about, and he’s constantly looking to learn new things. He’s also passionate about music, videography, and aerospace.

For his first three years of college, McMurray worked in the Student Involvement and Leadership Office on campus, specifically utilizing his skills in videography to market for the center. He also completed an internship with the University of Utah after his sophomore year where he conducted undergraduate research including material science and engineering–he specifically worked to make a biodegradable adhesive for packaging.

“I really valued my experiences from the internship, even though it was tough sometimes,” said McMurray. “I’ve always had a very broad take on engineering as a career field, where it felt like there were too many options to choose from. This internship helped me narrow it down to things that I enjoyed doing in certain areas of engineering.”

Alongside being valedictorian for CECS, McMurray’s accomplishments include being selected for a scholarship by the Utah Council of Engineers and receiving a Thunderbird Award. To McMurray, being valedictorian is a reflection of his time and effort spent in pursuit of good grades and strong academic standing.

“It’s about going the extra mile and incorporating your passions into your studies and projects,” said McMurray. “SUU is full of students like that, so I think the valedictorian is the person who represents all the accomplished students who are graduating. I owe it to my friends and professors who helped me along the way.”

College is as challenging as it is rewarding. For McMurray, the most difficult part of college has been managing finances and budgeting.

To incoming students, McMurray offers his advice; “Always keep an open mind. You’re going to meet a bunch of people–some you get along with, others you don’t. It’s really important to learn from the people around you and respect your differences. Also, get involved and don’t take things too seriously–be sure to have fun.”

Following graduation, McMurray plans on getting his master’s degree in engineering with the help of the United States Air Force. In the meantime, he’s looking at internships.

Southern Utah University’s Commencement Ceremony will be held on Friday, April 28, 2023, at 8:30 a.m. in the America First Event Center. The Commencement Ceremony is open to all graduating students and their guests. Tickets are not required, but graduates and their families will be given priority seating.

Visit SUU’s graduation website for a full schedule of events.

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