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UC Santa Barbara to Offer First Master’s Tech Management Degree

For UCSB's new business degree, 23 students will take part in inaugural technology management program

TMP’s new executive learning center in Phelps Hall was completed over the summer, specifically designed to accomodate the program’s new master’s degree program.
TMP’s new executive learning center in Phelps Hall was completed over the summer, specifically designed to accomodate the program’s new master’s degree program.  (T. Mastres / UCSB photo)

The competition was fierce and the applicant pool deep, but it’s official — 23 students will begin the track to earn UC Santa Barbara’s first-ever master's business degree this fall.

University officials are in the final stage of preparation for the new professional master’s in technology management (MTM), an MBA-like degree that aims to teach tomorrow’s leaders how to manage fellow engineering and technology industry employees.

Fall UCSB classes begin Sept. 24.

Bob York, who chairs UCSB’s popular Technology Management Program, is quick to point out the degree isn’t your run-of-the-mill MBA.

Those programs train students of any age and experience level to manage employees, regardless of specialty.

The MTM exclusively recruits students with at least two years of work experience on top of college degrees, teaching management skills to technical-minded scientists and engineers with strong leadership potential and drive.

So, marketing and operations classes won’t be cornerstones of curriculum.

TMP’s new executive learning center in Phelps Hall will host the new master’s degree program. Click to view larger
TMP’s new executive learning center in Phelps Hall will host the new master’s degree program.  (UCSB photo)

“People don’t historically think of UCSB as a business school,” York said. “The world doesn’t need another MBA program. This is the program I wish I had had.”

TMP, which was created in its initial form in 1998, had sights set on offering a degree long before 2015. The program known for its annual New Venture Competition, which allows students to present business venture ideas and compete for cash prizes, earned full academic program status to be able to offer the degree in January 2013.

Right now, students from any discipline earn certificates for participating in TMP, not actual degrees.

York recently showed off the newly renovated MTM program space in Phelps Hall, with a smile rarely leaving his face.

The executive learning center is across the sidewalk from TMP offices in old classrooms with windows as walls, flat screen TVs in the lobby and a large, air-conditioned classroom where students complete nine months of intensive curriculum and where mentors/sponsors can gather to hear business pitches.

Bob York
Bob York (UCSB photo)

Layout features 60 seats — the number of enrollees that the program will one day grow to — at the ready for an incoming class that’s about a quarter female, said York, who noted most students hail from California and at least have a loose connection to UCSB.

MTM students will choose to engage in 20-week projects, either developing a new business idea or innovating some aspect of an already established company, said Paul Leonardi, a TMP professor and director of MTM.

Students get dedicated faculty advisers and mentors similar to groups hawking ideas at UCSB’s New Venture Competition, which could include an MTM tract in addition to being open for graduate and undergraduate students.

“One hard thing to do as a student … is to make the translation between what you’re learning in the classroom and how to apply it,” said Leonardi, a Bay Area native who came to UCSB last year from Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and the Kellogg School of Management to develop MTM courses.

Paul Leonardi
Paul Leonardi (UCSB photo)

“This becomes our opportunity to guide them through that translation.”

Leonardi comes from a research background, where he learned employers have a tough time finding the right kind of scientist or engineer to promote into management.

That’s a process MTM and four dedicated faculty are supposed to ease.

Leonardi attributed the degree’s popularity — more than 100 people applied from around the world and went through a rigorous vetting process — to need in technical fields.

The fact that Santa Barbara has a rich ecosystem of tech companies, investment groups and startups doesn’t hurt, either, he said.

“I was really pleasantly surprised this year by how high quality our applicant pool was,” he said, adding that applications for next year’s class would be accepted in late September.

“There’s a lot of demand for the program.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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