Skip to main content
Aerospace and Defense MBA faculty and students visit the Libra shipping terminal in the port of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Thirty students and faculty from the UT Aerospace and Defense Master of Business Administration program recently examined challenges and opportunities for aerospace and defense organizations in Brazil as part of a weeklong international study trip.

Aerospace and Defense MBA faculty and students visit the Libra shipping terminal in the port of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Brazil is the sixth largest economy in the world.

The UT Aerospace and Defense MBA is a one-year, residence-based program for leaders from every sector of the aerospace and defense industry. Students attend six residence sessions (five on campus and one international) along with periodic distance-learning sessions. Most of the students are sponsored by their employers, including the United States Air Force, various airlines, prime defense contractors, and small business suppliers.

“Our international residence period is designed to open the eyes of students to the new global economy,” said program director Andy White. “We visited aerospace and defense organizations as well as leading organizations in key sectors such as finance and energy. We also highlighted the importance of understanding foreign cultures and respecting the diverse strengths and styles found in other nations.”

The agenda included four days of study and development in Rio de Janeiro before the group traveled to Sao Jose des Campos and Sao Paulo for the remainder of the trip. Highlights of the trip included visiting:

  • Religious, historical, and cultural sites
  • The US Consulate
  • Deloitte Consulting
  • BNDES, the Brazilian Development Bank
  • Petrobras, one of the world’s largest energy exploration and production companies
  • The Brazilian Space Agency
  • The headquarters of Embraer aircraft manufacturing company
  • Embraer suppliers, Aernnova and Thyssen Krupp Automata
  • The Brazilian stock exchange

“Our visit to Brazil was an unforgettable experience full of cultural, business, and educational learning,” said Jay Ferguson, project manager for EOD Technology, a Lenoir City, Tennessee-based company that provides security, munitions management, logistics and disaster response in austere and hostile environments.

Ferguson is a student in the UT Aerospace and Defense MBA program.

“This trip presented an education that couldn’t be gained in any classroom,” Ferguson said. “We were in the middle of the action and exposed to an education beyond what any documentary, book, or online resource could provide.”

Prior to the trip, students studied theories in global supply chain management and economic theories and outcomes of global trade. They also analyzed Brazil’s macro-economic performance over the last two decades.

“One of the many great take-away lessons from the trip was the value of long-term strategic planning,” Ferguson said. “US companies have short- and long-term strategic plans but tend to focus primarily on the short term.”

He noted that ThyssenKrupp, a Germany-based company, took the Brazilian tax structure head-on and dedicated five years to studying tax policies and lobbying with government officials. It partnered with other industrial companies to leverage its capabilities to develop mutually beneficial relationships.

“This long-term commitment ultimately changed some of the tax policies and opened up business partnerships that will end up paying out large dividends in the long run,” Ferguson said.

To learn more about the trip, visit the group’s blog.

For more information about the Aerospace and Defense MBA, visit the program’s website.


Andy White (865-974-2027,

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,