A group of 39 undergraduate engineering students at Texas A&M earned the first-ever business management certification for Aggie engineers during an intensive, three-week program this August at Mays Business Schools’ Center for Executive Development. The business crash course introduced the junior and senior undergraduates from the Look College of Engineering to basic business concepts from costing to managing employees.

The curriculum was crafted from the key elements that engineers in business — from small business owners to engineering managers in major corporations — say they needed once they entered the workforce.

Professors in accounting, finance, information and operations management, management and marketing shared sessions that lasted 8 hours a day from Aug. 8 to Aug. 26. Students worked through business case studies, put themselves to the test with financial and managerial accounting, and used facilities at the state-of-the-art Reliant Energy Trading Center to conduct simulations in finance.

PricewaterhouseCoopers Accounting Excellence Professor Clair Nixon, a frequent Center for Executive Development instructor, conducted extensive research on the business needs of engineers during a summer fellowship with Boeing in 2004. Nixon designed the business management certificate curriculum as part of the first interdisciplinary effort to bring the basics of business to students in another A&M college. He implemented the program alongside center director Ben Welch and program coordinator Pam Curry.

“Most engineers do a very good job technically, but don’t do as well on the business side,” Nixon says. “Engineers have to understand the principles behind running a business.”

The program, which accepted applicants selected by the Look College of Engineering earlier this year, is expected to continue next summer.