UTEP Pioneers Nation’s First Engineering Leadership Bachelor’s Degree
November 3, 2014
The University of Texas at El Paso is set to offer the first Bachelor of Science in Engineering Leadership in the country.
"We're creating a new paradigm for engineering education. Tomorrow's engineers need to serve on the interface of technology and society, and they need skills in both arenas to be successful," said College of Engineering Dean Richard Schoephoerster, Ph.D., who pioneered the idea of the degree.
Mechanical and biomedical engineering professor Roger V. Gonzalez, Ph.D., will serve as the director of the new program. As the founder and president of LIMBS International, a nonprofit dedicated to providing ultra low-cost prosthetics to the poor, Gonzalez said it's imperative that engineers enter the workforce as well-rounded, confident individuals in order to be successful.
While a technical engineering education will remain key, the program will focus on teaching rising engineers business, communication, leadership and entrepreneurial skills. Strong collaborations with the nationally recognized Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering and growing collaborations with West Point, a military institution that is renowned for forging leaders, will also be formed for guidance on how to develop students' capacities to lead. This unique curriculum is intended to capture the interest and imagination of talented, young students who are looking to turn their ideas into reality.
"Tomorrow's technologies and solutions require individuals who know how to lead teams, all while understanding how technology impacts society and affects business and legal processes," Gonzalez said. "Traditional engineering education often falls short of these broader aspects."
UTEP announced the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's (THECB) approval of the new degree at a campus celebration attended by University President Diana Natalicio and former President and Chairman of British Petroleum (BP) America Bob Malone.
Malone, a UTEP alumnus now serving on Halliburton's Board of Directors, strongly supports the new program, which he says represents a paradigm shift in how engineering is taught across the country.
"Early on in my career it became obvious that a strong engineering foundation was not enough," Malone said. "Engineering schools need to broaden strong engineering backgrounds with additional critical skills."
The Engineering Leadership program was made possible by a $1 million gift from Malone and his wife, Diane, in 2011 along with a matching gift of $1 million from the Halliburton Foundation. THECB officially approved UTEP's degree request Thursday, Oct. 23; more than 50 students have shown interest in the program so far.