HE was still working on a few cars on the side for friends and family, but mostly Scott Clayton was taking care of Rose, his baby daughter. He and his wife, Ashley, had made the decision for Scott to stay home and care for Rose since babycare was difficult to come by, plus expensive. Ashley’s position as an associate professor of math and the health benefits at Adams State allowed them the opportunity.

Then came a nudge from Matt Nehring, who had started, in partnership with Colorado State University, a new mechanical engineering degree at Adams State, where Scott had earned a bachelor of science degree in physics and was well-known within the university’s STEM department for his mechanical prowess.

Scott grew up a motorhead, with his dad, Don, and the Clayton family, the owners of Alamosa Motor Parts on State Avenue. Overexposed, Scott says, and not likely to go into the automotive field growing up as he did, above the auto parts store.

Until he got his first car and fell in love with the motors and became the best mechanic in Alamosa.

He graduated from Alamosa High, got an associates degree from WyoTech, and went back to working as an auto technician. Then it dawned on him that he needed to go back to school so he could learn more on how to fix the technology-influenced auto machines of the 21st century.

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He got his bachelor’s degree in 2018, and then life happened. He met Ashley, they married, Rose was born – she’s now 9 months old – and he became dad, full time. Or so he thought.

Nehring told Scott that he should apply for the undergraduate teaching labs engineer job that CSU had posted. He was well-qualified and could bring real-world experience and practicality to the lab setting for students learning to become mechanical engineers.

Scott’s degree isn’t in mechanical engineering, but his love for math and his years of experience working with automotive sensors was a good fit.

“I’m super excited about this program and I’m personally very invested in this program,” he says from his first floor office at Porter Hall. “This program is a really good opportunity for people in the Valley and it’s a really good opportunity for me. And I think it has the potential to make Adams better which can only strengthen Alamosa.”

For Clayton it’s the best of all his worlds. He’s an employee of Colorado State, working at his alma mater and in his hometown. And the lab engineer role marries his love for mathematics with his other natural talent, diagnosing the problem with an automobile.

Under the 2021 agreement, CSU ultimately will hire four faculty members in addition to Clayton to work at Adams State and be part of the growing mechanical engineering program. Nehring sold the idea to both governing boards and his hunch was right – the program attracted 20 students in year one, half Valley kids like Clayton.

Recruiting for year 2 is on track, and now with CSU making its hires, the mechanical engineering degree program at Adams State has momentum and looks promising.

“Mechanical engineering is definitely growing. The world in general is becoming more and more technical,” Clayton says.

He’s seen it himself in the automotive repair industry, and now he’s ready to help students apply their knowledge to real-world settings. He had to leave Rose to do it, but Grandma Cathi, Scott’s mother, is there for her.

As for his car customers?

“I’ve been telling them, ‘Hey, I’m not going to be able to work on your car at a drop of a dime now. I got this position, and everybody that I talk to and tell them about this position seems really excited about it. They’re all really excited for me.”

They should be. He’s found the best of all his worlds.

PHOTO: Scott Clayton, Colorado State University Undergraduate Teaching Labs engineer