New Joint Degree Program Benefits Students, Industry


New Joint Degree Program Benefits Students, Industry


Amber Gomez, a junior computer science major, plans to apply for UTEP's new B.S.-M.B.A. joint degree program.
Amber Gomez, a junior computer science major, plans to apply
for UTEP's new B.S.-M.B.A. joint degree program. "I can always
be an engineer, but why not a CEO as well?" she said.
Photo by Ivan Aguirre / UTEP News Service.

Amber Gomez had her post-undergraduate future mapped out until she heard two presentations this past spring semester about a new degree program at The University of Texas at El Paso that will save her time and money, and make her more marketable.

The junior computer science major has applied for the new B.S.-M.B.A. program that combines certain undergraduate engineering specialties with a Master of Business Administration degree and could cut approximately 18 months from a student's academic calendar.

The joint degree program will launch this fall with about 12 students, but its ranks should increase significantly as more students learn about this option that requires participants to have at least 90 college credit hours and a 3.3 GPA.

Gomez, an El Paso native, thought of entering the workforce or seeking a master's in computer science after she earned her bachelor's degree, but now she wants to augment her technical skills with an understanding of management, accounting and marketing.

"I can always be an engineer, but why not a CEO as well?" she said.

The joint plan, which has become popular at universities nationwide, was initially discussed at the University about three years ago. Leaders in the colleges and departments impacted by the program met during the past year to refine the program's requirements to where they could be supported at all levels.

It became a collaboration among the colleges of Engineering and Business Administration, the Graduate School and the departments of Computer Science, Electrical engineering, and Industrial, Manufacturing and Systems engineering.

"And we've done it without fistfights," joked David Novick, Ph.D., associate dean for the College of Engineering, who led the charge along with Laura Uribarri, assistant dean for UTEP's M.B.A. programs.

The program earned a positive response due to it being a natural extension at UTEP where business and engineering students often team up for venture competitions and where approximately 25 percent of M.B.A. students have engineering degrees.

Novick and Uribarri lauded the direction and support from University President Diana Natalicio and their respective deans Richard Schoephoerster, Ph.D., and Robert Nachtmann, D.B.A.

They also noted the financial support of alumnus and successful businessman Mike Loya, who will provide five fellowships of $4,000 to $6,000 per year for up to three years through endowments he created as part of the $10 million pledge he made to the University in 2011.

Loya earned his bachelor's in mechanical engineering from UTEP in 1977 and his M.B.A. from Harvard University two years later. He is president of Vitol Inc., the North and South American arm of the Vitol Group, an energy and commodities company. Loya has been a strong proponent of combining business and engineering studies to enhance perspectives on projects and inventions.

David Rapisand, director of financial management and overhead control at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth, praised the joint degree program because it will create the kinds of in-demand graduates that industry wants.

"Having a B.S.-M.B.A. is a positive discriminator in the search for candidates to fill an executive or higher level position," said Rapisand, who earned his bachelor's in accounting at UTEP in 1976. "When you can have an engineer who understands finance and vice-versa, you have a candidate who can provide a greater return on investment in the long run."

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