Students find industrial tech programs beneficial

November 22, 2017

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin’s Industrial and Petroleum Technology program has proven a boon to students with busy lives who want to earn a bachelor’s degree or get ahead in their careers.

Although she isn’t expected to graduate until August 2018, Ryan Cavazos will start an internship with Oncor in December. She will earn a bachelor of science in industrial technology with a minor in business.

A stay-at-home mom, Cavazos was going for a bachelor’s in management before, but wanted to go for something a little more technical with more math and science. Cavazos, like many other industrial and petroleum technology students, is taking all of her courses online.

Her internship at Oncor will be as an associate utility designer, which pertains to expanding the electrical grid and connecting new development to it.

“It’s allowing me to work full time and get experience,” Cavazos said. “I’ve really enjoyed going online.”

She added that the professors have all been “incredibly helpful.”

“They’re there when you need them. … They do get to know you. They do remember you. Even though it’s online, you still get a personal feel for the professors,” Cavazos said.

Robert Morrison, information systems assistant professor of business and technology and coordinator of Industrial and Petroleum Technology, said the Bachelor of Science in industrial technology and Bachelor of Arts and Science industrial technology track are the degrees offered.

Morrison said the program has 120 to 150 students.

Of those, 70 to 75 percent of the students are not in West Texas, since the course offering is fully online. There also are students from other parts of Texas, California, Nevada, Michigan, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Twenty to 30 percent are in the Odessa-Midland area. Those who don’t live in West Texas are residing in Houston, Dallas or San Antonio. In one case, there is a U.S. Coast Guard commander stationed in Saudi Arabia.

“I think we have fewer than 10 traditional students who came out of high school directly to our program,” Morrison said. “Currently, the vast majority are working adults who have either earned an associate degree or have accumulated a significant number of college hours.”

He added that it’s not unusual for students to have picked up credits from multiple colleges.

“We also have a good number of students who already have a … bachelor’s degree in some area that’s not business or industry related,” Morrison said.

Morrison said the degrees focus on management and it can translate to hospitals, universities, construction companies, trucking companies and the oil industry.

Supply chain management is a required course and logistics also is offered. A new course that Morrison developed is global logistics. The course, which will start in the fall, was requested by local industry.

One of the attractions of Morrison’s programs is that his students get jobs. He has students who are working in a variety of jobs while they’re studying, but they want to advance their careers.

Morrison said he can’t think of anyone during his two-year tenure that didn’t have a job or one lined up upon graduation.

Randy Losoya, who lives in Alvin, will graduate in December with a bachelor of science in industrial technology. He started his courses through UTPB in 2015 and has worked in chemical plants for a little more than 20 years and served in the Air Force.

Losoya said the courses have enhanced what he already doing in his job and would allow him to move up when he’s ready. He said it has already benefited him.

The nice thing about online courses, Losoya said, is that they allow you to pace yourself, but you do have to turn your assignments in on time.

Babie Switzer of Odessa has just started her courses after taking her basics and will finish with a bachelor of applied science in industrial technology. She hopes to graduate toward the end of 2018 or 2019.

An AutoCad drafter, Switzer has two associate degrees from Odessa College. One was in drafting technology and the other in surveying technology. She obtained an internship with a land surveying company that led to a job.

“It’s interesting. They’re all eight-week classes, so they’re very fast paced. You’ve got make to keep up with it and not get behind,” Switzer said.