B.S./M.B.A. Program Readies Students for Leadership Positions
LISA Y. GARIBAY | December 19, 2014 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
Zachary Jackson, a senior majoring in Electrical Engineering, is combining his scientific studies with business know-how thanks to UTEP's new B.S./M.B.A. program.
Photo by J.R. Hernandez / UTEP News Service
One alum's generous gift keeps on giving back to The University of Texas at El Paso. This time, it's via the establishment of a course of study that can mean big career success for the ambitious students who undertake it.
Thanks to UTEP mechanical engineering graduate Mike Loya's $10 million gift to the University in 2011, the wheels were put in motion for the University's brand new B.S./M.B.A. program.
Bridging the College of Business Administration and College of Engineering, the dual degree plan addresses a gap within professional sectors that UTEP students are eager to fill.
"I was excited about being more equipped to own and run my own business someday," said Zachary Jackson, who expects to graduate with his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in May and follow that with an M.B.A. in a year, thanks to the new program. Equipped with such academic prowess, the engineer plans to stay in El Paso as an entrepreneur.
Despite the challenge of tackling his first economics course since high school and an intensive workload overall, Jackson believes the effort has already paid off. "I know more opportunities are out there for me now," he said.
Other M.B.A. graduates who first received a Bachelor of Science degree from UTEP have repeatedly mentioned that business education made a true difference in helping them differentiate themselves within the workforce and round out their skill set. (Profiles of several of these students – who went on to leadership positions at the likes of Continental Automotive, Lockheed Martin and Texas Instruments – can be found here.)
"This isn't just theoretical for us," said Laura Uribarri, assistant dean for M.B.A. Programs at the Graduate Business Center. "We have these examples of students who have done the two programs and employers absolutely love them."
Daniela Noriega, a B.S. in industrial engineering candidate, and B.S. in electrical engineering candidate Jorge Martinez are the other two students who first enrolled in the B.S./M.B.A. program alongside Jackson.
"Ever since I was younger, I always tried to sell things to people – picture the six year-old in the neighborhood selling chocolates," Noriega said. "I guess there was an entrepreneur inside me wanting to come out. The passion for having my own future business brought that entrepreneur spirit out and pushed me to go ahead and apply for the program."
Martinez was considering master's programs when he heard about the new B.S./M.B.A. combo in an Electrical Engineering Junior Professional Orientation class, one of many outreach efforts undertaken by the colleges to recruit students.
"The ability to work on my B.S.E.E. program concurrently with the M.B.A. was more than enough to persuade me to apply," Martinez said.
Several more students are expected to join the initial trio in the spring semester. The window for applications has been kept open beyond fall given the strong interest expressed by dedicated students.
The program was able to provide financial help for current enrollees thanks to the Mike Loya Joint Degree Fellowship, which provides $4,000 to $6,000 per year of undergraduate and graduate studies for a period of three years.
New students will be considered for this funding as they move into full M.B.A. status.
Additional Bachelor of Science degrees will be considered for inclusion in the program in the future so long as a balance can be struck between science-oriented course requirements and those on the business end.
"We have heard from students in other majors who really want the opportunity to do it," said Uribarri, who referred to the program as a work-in-progress.
Involved departments are excited about the merger, with faculty enjoying the diversity that science-oriented majors bring into business classes. Along with the program's organizers, these faculty members are continually inspired by the chance to fill an ever-widening niche with prepared, professional UTEP graduates whose pay potential is much higher and whose professional opportunities are much broader.
"We are setting these students up to step into management rotation programs within different companies or to start their own company," Uribarri said. "Having them leave here with a graduate degree means that they are stepping into the job market with a very different set of opportunities than their (Bachelor of Science) colleagues, and that's a really wonderful thing."
Noriega refers to what she has learned thus far as "incomparable," adding that she has a new appreciation for how business and engineering processes are connected to one another. Taylor appreciates having learned how to better communicate with business people and present his engineering prowess to them in a language that resonates with the commercial sector.
Martinez agrees. "Going through the final stages of the B.S.E.E. degree, ideas and opportunities for entrepreneurship are not scarce, and having the business knowledge to see them through is invaluable," he said.