New certificate program develops energy expertise for any career

Christina Breitbeil

McCombs School of Business launched a certificate program in summer 2013, the Energy Management Program, though the program will be awaiting official approval from the University until Jan. 1.

The program, which accepted the first group of undergraduates months ago, aims to offer students an opportunity to develop foundations for the energy-related aspects of any career. The program is already gearing up for its second year, opening applications for summer 2014.

Economics junior Kelsey Sawyer, accepted for the summer 2013 term, is currently working to complete the coursework for the program and said she is aware the University had not yet approved the program.

“I have confidence that the program will get approved, and even if it doesn’t get approved, I am still glad I am working on the certificate,” Sawyer said. “You can’t access the classes I’m taking unless you are involved in the program, and having access to that knowledge is worth it. I 100 percent believe I would not have gotten my internship without the networking connections I received through the program.”

John C. Butler, director of the program and academic director of the Energy Management and Innovation Center, said the program will serve to complement any degree.

“The trick that makes energy so complicated is that it’s interdisciplinary,” Butler said. “We want students to talk to each other, and that’s why we want people from all different majors — we want to start a dialogue, because that’s what actually happens in the world of energy.”

Butler said the program is “more than a minor and less than a major” and is open to all undergraduates. The program, which requires 18 hours of coursework spanning from business and law to geology and petroleum studies, is geared toward sophomores planning for internships their junior year. 

UT offered a degree program for students seeking to become landmen, a profession including negotiation of oil and gas business agreements, which was discontinued in the early 1990s. The program, Butler said, is a way to offer similar coursework without the necessity for the complete degree.

“Not only is having a good basic understanding of energy useful for prospective landmen, but also careers in energy policy, accounting for geology and energy firms and financial positions in those firms,” Butler said.

Business honors sophomore William Herbst said he is interested in joining the program because of the changing energy industry.

“With the recent shale gas explosion, the energy business is bigger than ever, especially here in Texas,” Herbst said. “I think the program can really give those interested in oil and gas the opportunity to get a sound foundation and understanding of the energy world from a business perspective.”