First Systems Engineering and Management Student Graduates

 Dec. 7, 2012

When Christina Wolfe walked across the graduation stage in December, she made Jonsson School history as the first graduate of the systems engineering and management program.

Dr. Stephen Yurkovich

“Observers might find it somewhat curious that we already have a graduate, especially because fall 2012 was really our first full semester of the program,” said Dr. Stephen Yurkovich, head of the Department of Systems Engineering and holder of the Louis Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Chair . “But Christina was our very first student in the program, entering in the fall 2011 semester with another UT Dallas graduate.”

Wolfe finished the master’s degree — offered jointly by the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and the Naveen Jindal School of Management — in just three semesters.

“I am excited to see how the program will grow,” she said. “Hopefully my having been part of it will help mold it for future students.”

Wolfe came to the University as an undergraduate in 2007 as a member of the University’s flagship merit program.

“Between when I first started and now I have seen the University grow in great ways in terms of the student body and beauty of the campus,” she said.

The McDermott Scholar earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematical sciences.

Christina does the Whoosh in front of England's York Minster while studying abroad.

“The reason Christina was a prime candidate for this program was because of her outstanding undergraduate record in a rigorous program at UT Dallas,” Yurkovich said. “Her mathematics training and work ethic has served her well.”

After graduating with her undergraduate degree, Wolfe heard that the University was starting the systems engineering and management master’s degree. The program has been designed to meet the needs for formalized education in design, engineering and management of increasingly complex projects and systems that involve many interconnected parts.

With interests in computer science and economics and experiences working in a cognitive science lab and conducting business research while studying abroad in Europe, the program proved very attractive.
“It sounded like a good fit,” she said.

Christina (left), with her mom and sister, Chelsea, a global business junior at UT Dallas, working at their family business in Arizona.

As one of three systems engineering and management students, she took classes with students earning master’s degrees in computer science and electrical engineering, as well as advanced management students.

“I liked that the program was split between these two very well-respected schools,” Wolfe said. “It gives you different academic perspectives and a much wider view of the applications in systems engineering.”

Wolfe earned her master’s degree with an emphasis in operations management.

“Our program is versatile enough to allow students like Christina to specialize in a variety of areas that merge disciplines of engineering and management,” Yurkovich said.

As part of the program, Wolfe completed an information technology internship at Bell Helicopter.

“The position was sort of a business analyst role with a technological bend,” she said.

She is currently using her skills and experience to help set up an e-commerce system for her parents’ small business in Arizona. She then plans to travel.

Long term, Wolfe would like to work in the travel industry. She is fascinated by the network systems involved in the airline industry — how decisions are made about flight routes, which planes to fly and ticket pricing.

“My experiences and degrees have prepared me for a wide variety of things,” she said.