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Hobert Caudales, Master of Science in Engineering Management, 2021

by Monica Smith

Oct 24, 2022, 12:00 PM.

A first-generation student, who came to the U.S. from Cuba, describes his determination and the opportunities FIU has provided.
Hobert Caudales
Hobert Caudales

Hobert Caudales was a first-generation student. The FIU alumnus tells a harrowing story of how he and his parents left Cuba to Miami on a boat when he was seven. They left everything in pursuit of a new life. 

As an only child, Caudales’ parents wanted more for their son than they could offer in their home country. Their sacrifice drives Caudales to succeed, he says, and they were extremely proud when he walked across the graduation stage with his FIU diploma as an undergraduate, and even more proud when he received his M.S. in Engineering Management in 2021. 

“All I went through really put my determination into overdrive,” he says as he recalls the culture shock he experienced on American soil.  “I cried a lot. I was bullied. It took me a year and a half to learn English, and I still had an accent.”  

The early months in the U.S. provided many new experiences for Caudales. With two FIU degrees to his name, he is grateful to his parents and the university that helped shape his career.

In the following Q and A, Caudales shares what it was like to be a student in his master’s degree program.

When did you graduate?

December 2021. My bachelor’s degree is in political science, and my master’s in engineering management. I took both online and in-person classes.

Where do you work now? What do you do?

I work for FIU Online and I am a project manager for the marketing department. We work on a lot of communication pieces and projects to promote FIU’s programs and the online modality. Our department also does videos, web features, print and social media. There are a lot of moving parts and cross-functional teams to coordinate and collaborate with. It’s never boring and is rewarding working with so many people and teams—especially when a project is complete and launched. I like what I’m doing—education is a product I can get behind as it offers people opportunities. I know this firsthand.

What was your favorite class and why?

My favorite one was in my master’s degree program. It was Total Quality Management (TQM) with Karen Schmahl because It’s the one that I learned the most in and the one that was the most challenging. I liked the class because I learned a lot of new concepts such as Lean Six Sigma and statistical control methods. It was the one class that presented all new information—about 99% of the curriculum was new info. It was a good refresher on math and statistics, too, since I hadn’t practiced those subjects since early in my college career.

What immediately applicable skills did you learn?

I learned project management. It is 100% related to what I currently do. I also learned advanced project management and the correct ways to do project management. The class also prepared me to sit for the Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification. In class, we studied a lot of enterprise configuration, Salesforce and SAP methods. The point of these courses was to learn how companies run with the software they use to handle inventory, manufacturing, payroll, HR, production, planning—things that have to do with finances. My engineering management degree helps me in my current position as I learned best practices and ways to increase efficiency and avoid redundancies.

In my management innovation class, a business class, we were required to work on getting a product to market. Since I work in marketing, this was of great interest to me. We had to do background research for market fit and consumer targeting. We also developed policies for the production process. Our group project was a COVID-19 detection system based off publicly available information. We started that from the ground up.

How does your degree help you?

The degree elevates my legitimacy in the industry. FIU is well-respected and known for its programs. My degree helps me because I was taught by seasoned industry professionals. The faculty brought their real-word experience into the program and provided added value to everything taught. You learn from people who know what they are doing and have experience doing these things for organizations. I found that if you have an outside-of-the-box question, they could answer with real-world answers.

Why did you decide to study this area and choose this program?

I’ve always been into technology and how it can be applied. I considered law, but ultimately decided that I wanted to be in the tech industry.

What is one thing you learned that you will never forget?

TQM. The amount of measuring for quality products and processes to have continuous improvement—that is something that I use and won’t forget.

Would you recommend this program to other students?

Yes. You will learn a lot. The program is jampacked with information and is very thorough. The breadth of knowledge you receive is from people who have worked in the field.

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