UCSB’s Technology Management Program has been granted full academic-unit status and will be offering students a graduate degree in business starting in the fall of 2014.

The program, which is part of the College of Engineering, has a tech-specific curriculum that aims to foster marketable entrepreneurial ventures in science and engineering by giving students the skills and experience necessary to start their own business. The addition of the new graduate degree was made possible after an external review committee made up of faculty from 300 universities reviewed the effectiveness of the program.

Founded roughly 15 years ago, the program is open to students of all majors and provides mentoring, courses and networking events. The status elevation allows UCSB to hire new faculty members for the business program, in addition to providing a professional master’s degree in technology management for the first time.

According to UCSB alumnus Charles Buhler, the program gave him an upper hand in honing business management skills.

“TMP gave me a leadership backbone — especially a business one — where it isn’t found anywhere or taught anywhere else,” Buhler said. “As a science engineering major, it can be difficult because you learn a lot of technical stuff, but you don’t get any of the business skills. TMP perfectly fills that by giving a business and leadership backbone that is offered nowhere else in the university setting.”

Fourth-year global studies major Raven Rellosa said one of the most high-profile components of the program is the New Venture Competition, which allows students to design their own business in multidisciplinary teams and compete for over $75,000 in prizes.

The competition teams up students across fields of study and challenges them to learn about topics including business sustainability, marketing, accounting and finance, making elevator pitches and dealing with legal and intellectual property issues, Rellosa said.

“I would encourage anyone who is interested in entrepreneurship, to check out the seminars,” Rellosa said. “They offer a few seminars in the beginning before a competition to inform the students on how to start a business, what the opportunities are and what they do when they do get accepted … you submit an idea to build a company or idea.”

Rellosa also said Santa Barbara — a starting place for many up-coming and innovative businesses — is a great place for a program like TMP to thrive.

“I think for any entrepreneur who has an idea out there, this is a great experience,” Rellosa said. “I think that there are a lot of schools out there that don’t offer what we offer here at Santa Barbara, and because Santa Barbara is a growing entrepreneurial city, there is so much room for ideas. Ideas are created, and businesses are actually created.”

Chairman, CEO of Skyler Technology and TMP Advisory Board member Stephen Cooper said the program allows students to learn about entrepreneurship, financial statements and the basics of starting a business.

“The students get to learn teamwork when they participate in the NV competition because they generally work with one or more individuals to build a business strategy, develop the product and develop a presentation to present a product to the competition judges,” Cooper said.

According to Cooper, with the addition of the graduate degree, TMP now has official status and can add full-time faculty to the staff. In light of this, Cooper also said there will be extremely popular research occurring in the area of technology management and entrepreneurship that will benefit graduates that pursue the program by ensuring them better job offers and better preparation for the work environment.

“A number who have come through the program have done extremely well in their first business position as a result of going through the program because they were prepared for the challenges they would see in the workplace,” Cooper said.

A version of this article appeared on page 1 of February 14th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.