A few short weeks ago, many freshmen made an important decision: they picked their major. Regardless of the initial decision, many students will have a change of heart or spark different interests before leaving college.

For engineers who experience that change of heart, there’s a great option: the Business Leadership Management Certificate Program for Engineering Students. Created by faculty at Mays Business School in 2005, this three-week program covers everything from consumer buyer behavior and marketing environments to developing budget estimates. Class meets 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, so although it’s a jam-packed few weeks, those lectures equal approximately nine hours worth of class credit. This year’s program met August 6-24, with 33 students earning a certificate.

“I had very little knowledge about business prior to the program,” says senior civil engineering major Mary Oates.  “I’m thinking about going into land development, so I’m hoping what I’ve learned will give me a head start in my profession.”

Many engineering students decide during college that they want to alter their engineering plans toward the business realm: they want to start their own company or use their strong mathematical background working in finance. Mechanical engineering graduate Joshua Grizzle ’07 earned a Business Leadership Management Certificate during his undergraduate years at Texas A&M, and after completing his master’s in mechanical engineering in July 2008, he will join the Goldman Sachs’ Commodities Sales desk.

“By far the most valuable aspect of the program was that it added to my conviction that I should pursue business as a career, and it inspired me to enroll in Dr. Hallermann’s risk management class,” Grizzle says. “The Business Leadership Management Certificate can give engineers the confidence to pursue a career in business straight out of undergrad.”

The certificate program wasn’t around when assistant clinical professor in finance Detlef Hallermann ’89 was a student at Texas A&M. Hallermann earned a bachelor’s in petroleum engineering, but pursued a MBA and PhD in finance after working in drilling and property evaluation acquisition.  After his PhD he worked in the energy trading industry and now teaches derivatives at Mays.

“The synergies between an engineering background and finance are fantastic.  An engineering background is excellent preparation for understanding the complexities of the business world, in particular commodities trading,” Hallermann says.  “If I would have had the opportunity of participating in a program like this, I would have entered the business side ten years sooner.”