Thanks to the strong influence of her mother, Parker Tyler (BS BME’13, MBA’19), didn’t have to spend much time wondering if she wanted to be an engineer. After seven years with Edwards Lifesciences, Parker landed her “dream job” as Engineer Manager for New Product Development at its headquarters in Irvine, Calif. Parker is grateful for her mom’s intuition and for her years as a student in the College of Engineering. They both helped forge her successful career. We asked Parker some questions about her experience at the U and what it has meant to her.


When and why did you decide to go into engineering as your educational and career choice?

I had just decided that I wanted to go to University of Utah, which is a HUGE deal when you are 17 years old and have to choose where you are going to spend some of the most epic, adventurous and instrumental years of your life.

I was sitting in the kitchen with my mom feeling relieved that I had made a decision that felt right. But then I quickly went into panic mode. I looked at my mom and said, “Wait, what am I actually going to do when I get there?” She looked up from whatever she was doing and said, “You should be an engineer.”

I immediately started Googling “What do engineers do?” and realized it was essentially a compilation off all the things that fascinated me: math, science, innovating, transforming the future, helping people, and had NOTHING to do with the things I had zero interest in: English, spelling, grammar. She obviously knew all of this and was just giving me the push that I needed.

When I got to Utah, I entered the engineering school as a chemical engineer because I wanted to help transform the future of energy. But one day I attended a seminar that the biomedical engineering school was hosting, where people from research and industry shared what they were working on. I had never heard of biomedical engineering, and I was curious what it was. There was someone presenting on how the medical device they were creating would help people with paraplegia to walk again. At that moment, my life changed forever. There was a world that was entirely focused on creating technology that would save or greatly improve someone’s life, and I wanted to be a part of it. The next day I changed my major to biomedical engineering and met the best advisor I have ever had, Heather Palmer.

What was your experience like going through the University of Utah’s College of Engineering?

My experience was fantastic! I was on the ski team during my time at the U, which required a lot of time training and traveling to races. The advisors and professors were so supportive and flexible, which gave me the confidence that I could do both. My classmates were also a huge part of my positive experience. We were a team, pushing and teaching each other. There is no way I could have gotten through school without them.

What did you learn most during your time here at the U?

The most valuable lesson I learned at the U is how important a team is when you are trying to solve a complex problem, both from the technical and emotional side. This is something that is at the core of what I do every day in my job. For me, engineering school isn’t about giving you the ability to remember an equation or method to solve a technical problem. It is about being able to take on a problem you have never been trained to solve and finding the right people to solve it with you. The U taught me that.

Did you have a favorite professor and if so, who was it and why?

Bob Hitchcock and Dave Grainger. But they are so much more than favorite. There is no way I would be where I am today without them. While I was at the U, they showed me the closest thing to the real world, solving real life problems with teams, data, and design control. Since the U, they have been amazing mentors and confidence builders as I have grown in my career.

How did your education in the College of Engineering best prepare you for your career?

My career started as a manufacturing engineer at Edwards Lifesciences in Draper, Utah. My job was focused on sustaining and building manufacturing lines for transcatheter heart valve delivery systems, which I think is one of the coolest medical devices ever. Manufacturing engineering is tough, there are so many moving pieces, and a lot of things can go wrong. You have to be able to quickly solve problems that have huge impact on patients and the business. This requires a certain level of grit and resiliency. My experience at the U helped me build a level of grit that has been so important in my career.

What advice do you have for those who have just graduated and are now entering the workforce?

Listen, learn, challenge, and have fun. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions and challenge your new team or manager. You have unique perspectives and experiences that will bring so much value to your team. It is amazing how many times I have seen new graduates ask a critical question that makes us look at a problem differently.

Looking back at the arc of your experience here at the U and where you are now in your career, how would you best sum up the value of the education you got from the U’s College of Engineering?

Invaluable. That about sums it up. I just had the opportunity to take a new engineering manager role in Edwards at our Southern California headquarters, and it is arguably my dream job. There is no way I would have had this opportunity without the experiences and support I had at Utah.