Frequently Asked Questions
What is Engineering Innovation and Leadership (E-Lead)?
At its core, E-Lead is an accredited Engineering Degree just like all other engineering degrees offered at UTEP. What makes us unique is how E-Lead blends the technical skills of UTEP's well-regarded Engineering core with additional study in business, innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership, and communications. Our major equips you to understand the "bigger picture" of engineering and its impact on the broader context of the world you will be entering after graduation. We use a project-based approach to learning, in which teamwork and personal motivation are essential.
What specific skills can E-Lead provide me that conventional engineering majors do not?
Unlike a traditional technical education, Engineering Innovation and Leadership includes a focus on learning how to innovatively approach engineering problems while building leadership and professional skills. Our students learn to work within on a team, communicate effectively with their peers and supervisors, lead and follow, as well as developing their conflict resolution skills. Over the course of the degree, students will give many presentations to their classmates, faculty, and industry Board Members, learning to give information in an effective, polished, self-confident manner. When completing this degree, you will also have the opportunity to experience the entire product design lifecycle, from exploring needs in the community, prototyping your ideas, and exploring the business models that help bring that design to life.
Am I going to get technical experience in this degree?
Yes! The Engineering Innovation and Leadership degree plan includes UTEP's common core classes and Engineering core classes across several other engineering departments. Our students take the same math and science requirements required of all Engineering degrees. Our engineering requirements are consistent with all other engineering degrees, both at UTEP and across the USA, that are ABET accredited. In fact, because of the flexibility in the degree-plan, some E-Lead students take more engineering courses than your typical engineering degree.
What do you mean by “Project based”?
Every Engineering Innovation and Leadership course involves at least one engineering project. These projects, which vary by course and year of study, are completed in teams, and require significant engineering, research, organization, and planning to complete. E-Lead focuses on “learning” as you “do,” so your learning experiences take place in the context of an engineering project, putting your developing skills into action.
How is a concentration incorporated into this degree? What concentrations can I choose from?
Engineering Innovation and Leadership offers the choice of seven Concentrations. Students must choose from one of these seven Concentrations, which are focused toward one particular area of Engineering. In addition to the UTEP Engineering core and Engineering Innovation and Leadership core, you will take additional technical Engineering courses in your area of interest (Concentration). The options are:
- Engineering Innovation
- Biomedical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Computer Science
- Electrical Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
But you aren't limited to wholly engineering focused concentrations! If you have a passion that lies outside of engineering that would benefit from the skills and knowledge gained from an engineering mindset, the Engineering Innovation concentration can include courses from any discipline. You can talk to the E-Lead advisor to craft a custom Engineering Innovation Concentration that includes courses in areas such as business, music, biology, healthcare, or education.
What type of learning environment does E-Lead provide?
E-Lead courses are all taught within the E-Lead studio environment. These studios allow for a flexible space to interact with both faculty and students in a semi-formal environment where learning happens in concert with other students and the faculty as guides/mentors. E-Lead is not about giving lectures on what you need to read and solve in the textbook, it is about tackling significant projects that require specific results to be achieved. Most of the projects happen in a team environment, in which the members of the team change from semester to semester.
How is Leadership taught?
Leadership within E-Lead is taught by example and practice. While we do cover leadership theories, our aim is not to make leadership “experts” but to create professionals who can “lead.” Therefore, leadership development is integrated into all E-Lead courses. Initially, we coach you through exploring your identity as a leader and how you best lead yourself. Teaming experiences then allow you to explore how you best work with others to accomplish a shared goal. Ultimately, both as a student and as a professional, your work as an engineer has lasting impact on yourself, your team, and society. Therefore, we want to help you be prepared to have real, positive impact by giving you the opportunity to work on an engineering project with lasting contributions that benefit a real stakeholder or company during your senior capstone courses.
Is E-Lead going to give me “hands on” experience?
Yes. This “hands-on” experience comes in the form of projects that require students to not only deal with feasibility (can it work), but also viability (can it pay for itself), and desirability (do people want what we create). While we do discuss theory to inform our thinking, we seek to create a learning environment within our E-Lead Studios where products are built, tested, and iterated on. Because building things takes tools, materials, and space, E-Lead has a fully stocked prototyping lab in the Studios that is reserved exclusively for the use of our students to complete their projects.
Why are class sizes so small?
Engineering Innovation and Leadership is a new degree, and is still growing. Our intentionally small class sizes allow for more personal interaction with our professors, and a close sense of community with your classmates. This sense of community is huge in E-Lead. It pays off both inside and outside the classroom. Having a diverse group of peers to study, work, and hang out with turns the department into a “home away from home”, giving you a comfortable place to exist in the large, often-anonymous, University environment. It also allows the professors to be more accessible and serve as mentors, rather than just a source of information.
What can I expect of this program as a first-year student?
During your first year we focus heavily on two key aspects that will give you future success in both your academic and professional career. We focus on helping you develop your “identity” as a person. That is, coming out of high school, you typically were part of a sub-group like “athlete,” “band member,” or “[insert your own description].” We seek for you to form the identity you desire, without constraints as to what peer pressure might force you to be. Second, we seek to help you find your “intrinsic motivation,” that is, to know what motivates you so that you can learn to get things done without a professor or boss having to motivate you to do something. You’re doing it because you want to learn and grow as a person. The great thing about all this is that we do it in the context of learning about engineering, innovation, and leadership.
Why does it take longer to graduate as compared to other degrees?
It doesn't. Engineering Innovation and Leadership is a 4-year degree. There are 8 required E-Lead courses, one for each semester. However, we do believe in doing things in the right order, and in taking the time necessary to do things right. For this reason, and because each one builds upon the last, these courses have to be taken in order. You can't skip ahead, and you can't leave anything out.
Are we required to do internships?
To graduate, we require all students to do two internships or professional practices. These are typically done over summer breaks. Let’s face it, most companies want to hire people with some level of experience in their degree. Most engineering students use internships to gain experience and kickstart their career after graduation. Therefore, we have folded that experience into your degree to help make them even more effective at helping you prepare for life after graduation. We can help you find an internship in your area of interest (i.e., it doesn't’t have to be in engineering), and we post upcoming opportunities in the office. Our professors can write letters of recommendation and help you learn to network.
What kind of jobs can I get with this degree?
The short answer is: any kind you want. A degree in Engineering Innovation and Leadership will provide you with a broad range of skills that can be utilized in many industries. Jobs in technical engineering, project management, quality analysis, field assessment, graduate schools inside and out of engineering, or your own startup all require the skills you learn in E-Lead. These skills also translate into the business world, non-profit organizations, education, and product design industries. You can also go on to pursue a Master’s Degree or PhD. For some examples of our graduates’ careers, click here.
How can E-Lead give me an advantage on job searching?
Often, employers are looking for talent beyond just a “major.” They want to know that an employee can handle a variety of challenges. Given the breadth of courses and experience you develop in E-Lead, you can use those experiences to give examples of how you bring more to the table than a typical engineer.
How can I help companies and other universities understand my major?
Engineering Innovation and Leadership can be described as an “interdisciplinary” engineering degree. By that, we mean that you have more variety of engineering courses than other engineering majors. In addition to that, you know about how the “real world” of business and people affect the ability to create successful products, processes, and projects. You know how to be results oriented, all while having the problem-solving traits of an engineering degree.
Could I potentially start my own business with this degree?
As part of the E-Lead degree, we spend an entire year (3rd year) learning what innovation and entrepreneurship mean. You will learn the basics of developing a product and also the keys to forming a company to sell that product. At the end of the year, you’ll have designed your own start-up and be able to decide whether it’s worth pursuing.
What sort of financial aid does E-Lead provide (if any), and how can I get help finding it?
The Engineering Innovation and Leadership degree offers a scholarship to all of our students. This scholarship is given once a year, and the amount goes up each year of your college career. The only requirements are
- that you be enrolled as an Engineering Innovation and Leadership major,
- have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and
- be enrolled full time (12 credit hours or more).
There are no applications and no essays required. If you qualify, the scholarship is automatic.