By Kristen Meub

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A project management jobs pipeline

PROJECT MANAGEMENT MOU — Associate Labs Director Scott Aeilts and UNM’s Dean Craig White signed a memorandum of understanding to support project management education and professional development. (Photo courtesy of UNM)

Sandia, UNM agreement supports creating a Master of Science degree in project controls,  project management, program management


Sandia and the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management have reached a new agreement to collaborate on project management education and professional development.

The memorandum of understanding supports creating a Master of Science degree in project controls,  project management, and program management at UNM and hands-on internship opportunities at Sandia.

Sandia will provide input on course curriculum, desired skill sets needed at the Labs, and expertise that will help prepare graduates for a career at Sandia or any future employer.

“Sandia wants job candidates who are best qualified and prepared to contribute to its national security mission,” Sandia program planning and control standards director Jennifer Plummer said. “This agreement helps us accomplish both. Sandia is growing its project management competency, and this will be an extraordinary benefit for the Labs.”

Dean Craig White said the agreement forms the basis for an ongoing benefit to the Anderson School, Sandia, and the overall community.

 “Sandia National Laboratories has indicated a strong desire to hire New Mexico students with graduate-level project management education,” White said. “This MOU provides a framework for direct collaboration in developing an outstanding program through internships, continuing education, and advice on curriculum and delivery.”

Sandia has about 300 project management positions, 38 percent held by UNM graduates. Tristan Walters, a Sandia manager, says the Labs has about 20 job openings in project management and project controls and expects the need to hire skilled project management professionals will continue.

Sandia will offer hands-on, project-management internships focused on providing practical project management experience on real programs. Tristan notes that Sandia now has nine students, and “demand is currently exceeding supply.”

Tristan joined Sandia about nine years ago with a Master of Business Administration in finance and international management from UNM. He started as a project financial analyst, but says he “caught the project management bug” because he wanted to become more involved with Sandia’s projects and programs. He earned a project management master’s certificate from George Washington University and ESI International and completed his project management professional certification while working at Sandia.

“I had to learn and figure it out as I went along,” Tristan says. “I see this as a real opportunity to better prepare these students. They will enter the workforce with the foundation and analytical skills associated with project controls and project management and be ready to hit the ground running instead of working through training and qualification. It will be a more direct path for early staff members.”

UNM already offers several project management courses, and current students can work toward a master’s certificate in project management. The new degree is expected to be approved in 18 months to two years, and students will be able to transfer credits from their master’s certificate toward the new Master of Science degree.

“One of the key things about the Master of Science degree is that we want incoming staff to have a broad and general understanding of engineering practices and approaches,” Tristan says. “It helps our project management controllers and managers be successful at Sandia. Having a systems engineering approach, or at least an understanding of those concepts, is going to help them integrate better with their technical teams.”