A new symbiotic degree program is underway, connecting the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management and Sandia National Laboratories. This program aims to give UNM graduates job opportunities at Sandia National Laboratories and the education to succeed.

The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding for project management education and professional development on Jan. 31, according to a press release. This agreement creates a Master of Science degree in project controls, project management and program management, as well as new internship possibilities at the laboratories.

Tristan Walters, the manager of the corporate project management office and UNM alumni from Anderson School of Management, was the key negotiator in this collaboration from Sandia National Laboratories.

This program provides a better understanding in skills practiced at Sandia National Laboratories and will help better prepare students coming into the job field, he said.

“I came to Sandia without a project management background, and then...I became very passionate about (it) once I came to Sandia, and so I had to learn a lot of those skill sets as I went through my career,” Walters said.

Walters said he used his experience to help create this new degree program that is applicable to real life job practices.

Over the last several years Sandia has experienced an increased demand in project management skills, said Craig White, the dean of Anderson School of Management.

He said Sandia National Labs is providing advice that could better the program and resources for students to have better job opportunities.

“There is a huge need at the labs, Sandia and Los Alamos, for this skill set, which is understanding how to implement projects, how to budget properly (and) how to keep budgets on track,” White said.

This degree program is a process and is going through the steps to be approved, he said. It has to be approved through the Anderson faculty, then it goes through the University Faculty Senate curriculum committee. From there it goes to statewide review and finally goes through the statewide process.

It is estimated that this degree will be available in about one year to one and a half years, White said.

Despite the ongoing process, Walters said several classes have already begun.

He said students can begin to work towards a master’s certificate in project management and eventually put those credits earned toward the Master of Science program once it is formally accredited.

“There are not a whole lot of universities across the country that even have a project management program,” Walters said. “So I think this is really cutting edge.”

Amy Byres is a news and culture reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily writes profiles on DACA recipients. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com, culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @amybyres12.