Spotlight: Joe Evans

Joe EvansAlthough he has gone on to a high-profile business career, Joe Evans (1981, 1983) has never forgotten the role Northern Michigan University has played in his success.

In his current position as vice president of defense programs for SAAB Technologies in Washington, D.C., Evans continues to draw on the technical and practical experience he gained in his education at Northern.

“A technical foundation allows you to participate in discussions with customers and product developers within your company,” Evans said in a recent campus visit. “If you have strictly a business education, you’re not conversant in that discussion.”

Evans also said he gained confidence and a strong work ethic at Northern.

“It was a small university, which is exactly what I needed,” he said. “I wasn’t all that studious when I came in. I’m sure if I went to a large place, I would have been lost. It’s small enough that you can find friends and be removed from the big-city urban distractions. I didn’t realize when I came here how right a decision that was. It’s a friendly place. It wraps its arms around you if you let it, and gives you a lot of growth potential. I think I took that confidence with me to the workplace.”

As president of the Alumni Association, Evans hopes that current Northern students will find similar benefits from their education.

“The willingness to follow new opportunities when they come up has led me to where I’m right now, which I’m very happy with,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to take risk. You have to decide what you want to do, and then you have to be willing to pursue it in all earnest.

“Find a way in this difficult economy to continue to invest in your education. It may sound old-fashioned, but it couldn’t be more modern, more relevant. Find a way to continue on and finish.”

 Evans also said he hopes future alumni will remember Northern as well, and find a way to give back to the University.

“Stay plugged in with the university one way or another,” he said. “And the Alumni Association is a great way to do that.”

The Engineering Technology Department graduates many successful students each year who go on to have fulfilling careers in various industry positions. If you know of a good spotlight story idea, please e-mail