As a software programmer in the oil and gas industry for nearly 20 years, José Palma, MSCIS ’04, knows firsthand how new technology can transform an industry. He’s seen the process of oil discovery change from paper-and-pencil to automation — and in that time, realized the importance of staying up-to-date on current technology. He’s also learned that sometimes it takes more than on-the-job experience to advance your career.
“I wanted a position that was more of a leadership role.” José says, “But even with my experience, I found that a graduate degree really made a difference as to who got hired for those jobs. They wanted project managers with a formal education.”
New Way of Thinking
José took the next step by enrolling in the MSCIS program. “I learned new things I never expected — a new way of thinking about the issues in my industry. My instructors were both academic and industry professionals who were very motivating and eager to share their knowledge.”
The small class sizes were also a real benefit, says José. “The contacts you make are really valuable. Most of the people were professionals so it was also a good way to network. I met people I still communicate with.”
Final Project Synthesized Learning
For his final project, or Capstone, José collaborated with a team of students to develop a proposal for a major utility company in Austin that was interested in using a centralized web-based portal to enhance their communication and productivity. José’s team performed a detailed cost-analysis, researched an implementation plan and presented the plan to the company’s management team.
“It was well-received,” he says, “and a good experience overall. They were very impressed with the plan we’d put together.”