[UTA Magazine]


Work force: Large corporations
The big attraction

Fresh from the College of Engineering, 25-year-old John Keck landed a job as a software engineer at Raytheon in 1995. Eight years later, he heads a team that develops major software projects for the defense industry giant.

He credits his success, in part, to the Computer Science and Engineering Department’s hands-on curriculum.

“From interactions with colleagues, I’ve discovered that UTA’s CSE projects were a lot more extensive and closer to the real world than what most graduates report from their undergraduate experience,” he says.

In other words, he was more prepared to make an immediate impact than were many of his co-workers.

Keck has plenty of UTA company at Raytheon, but determining an exact number of graduates is like keeping track of defense industry name changes during the past decade. “It’s pretty convoluted,” says Keith Weiss, Raytheon’s chief UTA recruiter and a 1973 industrial engineering graduate. The total exceeds 800 if you include Raytheon’s legacy companies.

With more than 3,000 graduates a year, UTA delivers employees to some of the area’s largest firms. The list is a who’s who of corporate leviathans: American Airlines, Bell Helicopter Textron, EDS, ExxonMobil, Fidelity Investments, KPMG, IBM, Motorola, Texas Instruments, Verizon. According to UTA records, all employ more than 100 alumni some more than 500.

Normalinda Gonzalez is one of the nearly 350 UTA graduates working for TXU Corp., the state’s largest electricity and gas provider. As a media relations specialist, she responds to inquiries from media outlets at any time, day or night. She has mastered the art of multitasking.

“I may have several projects at once and meetings to attend, and I have to manage it all,” says the 25-year-old Gonzalez (’99 BA). “My experience juggling responsibilities at UTA made it easy for me to manage my time now.”

Like Keck, she credits the practicality of her education with helping her advance.

“The professors in the Department of Communication prepared me by assigning challenging projects that reflect much of what I do now,” she said. “I know this practical experience helped me land internships during my last year at UTA. Without those internships, I don’t think I would have found a job immediately after college in the career I studied.”

Since 2000, more than 50 graduates have found jobs at Sabre Holdings, and another two dozen students have landed internships at the Southlake-based travel commerce leader. College recruiter Nicole Case has found that UTA alumni compare well against those from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgia Tech, U.T. Austin and Texas A&M University.

“What we’ve seen is that the types of skill sets we need are being taught in the classes at UTA,” says Case, who recruits for Sabre’s Airlines Solutions division. “We hire a lot of computer programmer positions, and the students must know Java and other applicable languages.”

Being prepared to enter the work force is certainly an advantage, says Raytheon’s Weiss, but so are strong ties to the Fort Worth-Dallas area.

“The typical UTA graduate has already established a good foundation,” he says. “Most bachelor’s candidates have deep roots in the Metroplex and tend to stay with the company longer.”

Preparedness and longevity. It’s a combination that has attracted big corporations to thousands of UTA graduates.

Count John Keck among them.

– MP


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