In October, students and staff from the Haslam College of Business traveled to Huntsville, Ala., to visit some of the nation’s top aerospace and defense organizations—NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the Missile Defense Agency, Avion Solutions and Boeing.
“This was an amazing experience,” says Greg Jackson, one of seventeen MSBA students to go on the trip. “Not only did we learn a lot about the business, logistic, and engineering problems of the defense and space industry, but we also had invaluable opportunities to rub elbows with top people at world-class organizations. Networking opportunities like these are why I came to UT.”
College leaders organized the three-day trip to expose interested students to the important missions in the industry and the career opportunities found there.
The trip enabled a two-way opportunity for knowledge sharing. Participants learned from some of the nation’s top aerospace and defense leaders during their visit, including NASA’s safety and mission assurance director for the space launch system (SLS) program, the chief scientist and the contracting director for the Missile Defense Agency, the chief engineer at Avion Solutions and multiple vice presidents at Boeing. Host organizations gained insights on UT business programs and the key business skills taught in some of the college’s programs.
“We wanted to expose interested students to the work of these employers, to their business challenges and to some of the exciting career opportunities they offer,” says Andy White, director of the Aerospace & Defense Business Institute. “We’ve seen how this kind of experiential learning can broaden the perspective of students and inspire their work and ambitions. It’s another example of how UT is partnering with area employers in very powerful ways.”
Trent Thurman, executive director for graduate programs at the Haslam College of Business, notes that trips such as this one are open to all of the college’s graduate programs, allowing students to expand their networks beyond their individual programs. “We targeted companies and organizations that are currently looking for top-notch talent, so the treks allow our students to have invaluable face-to-face interaction with company leaders about real opportunities as well as get a sense for the working environment and the region itself,” Thurman says. “It’s a great way for us to showcase our graduate talent to these organizations and strengthen our relationships with potential employers. And who wouldn’t want to visit NASA and learn about the journey to Mars?”