Partner Sites

Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

How Studying An Aerospace MBA Helped Me Advance Minorities In STEM

Learn how aerospace engineer and social activist Duran Gunter propelled his career to new heights by studying an MBA in Aerospace and Defense at the University of Oklahoma


Mon May 27 2024

Growing up in Eastover, South Carolina, a rural town with a population of about 800, Duran Gunter’s aspirations weren’t always stratospheric—but he did know he wanted to be part of something bigger than where he came from.  

“It was always my desire to one day make an impact, not just from a hometown perspective, but from a worldwide or industry perspective,” he says.  c7a64d811169cd3c67db6a6f29e6f962f667ee2b.jpg

But despite his worldly aspirations, the loss of his mother meant that Duran (pictured right) was focused on making his impact close to home. He gained an undergraduate degree in engineering in nearby South Carolina State University, before landing his first job with Boeing; one of the US’ leading aircraft companies.   

Initially employed as a contractor, he steadily rose within the ranks to take leadership over the transit division. 

However, after more than 10 years on the job, he eventually felt the next necessary step to accelerate his career was to pursue an MBA.

“I wanted a program that could give me that competitive edge, to make an impact across the industry and not just one singular company,” he says. 

In his search, he was quickly drawn in by the 12-month Executive MBA at the University of Oklahoma Price College of Business. Not only is it one of only two aerospace MBAs available in the US, but the program also maintains strong connections with major industry players. 

“I knew they had the backing, the network, and the knowledge base to really give me the additional knowledge I needed to flourish,” Duran says. 

Now a quality director for Pratt & Whitney—a world-leading aerospace manufacturer—his experience with the MBA has equipped him with the skills needed to pilot his career to new heights. 

What skills did you learn? 

Duran’s MBA journey coincided with two other new beginnings: a promotion at Boeing and a newborn child. 

Fortunately, approximately 60% of the program at the University of Oklahoma is taught online, with three in-person residency weeks, ultimately giving busy professionals the flexibility to balance their careers while still pursuing their degree. 

“People always ask me, how did you manage all of that? I couldn't have done it any other way. The program gave me a work-life balance,” Duran says. 

While in the program, students study core modules such as Financial Management, Data Analytics, and Marketing, while also delving into more industry-specific areas such Global Aerospace and Defense Strategy and Managing Aerospace and Defense Government Contracts. 

Students are also encouraged to develop communication and leadership skills while working together on various projects during their residency weeks, which include a competition to create their own airline company based on a case study. 

“We had to come up with a name, we were given a case, the funding, and we had to present a [business] proposal to the class. That was one of the most interesting parts about the program,” Duran says.

His team actually took the crown with their idea, ‘The Right Wing’, (a reference to the ‘The Price Is Right’). 

The emphasis placed on teamwork also helps to create a lifelong network, something which Duran still benefits from today. 

“We have a little group chat that we talk in on a constant basis, from giving career advice to sharing a problem we may have going on at work,” he shares.  

How has it helped you make an impact in your career? 

A short while after graduating from the MBA, Duran was offered a job as the director of quality at Pratt & Whitney.

Now, each day Duran oversees the quality of product process engineering to support both military and commercial aircraft—a job that relies heavily on the people management and financial skills that he picked up at Oklahoma.

However, one of the most important skillsets that he learned from the program is contract negotiation.

“I deal with that on a day-to-day basis, where it's a constant change of how we renegotiate or reevaluate contracts we had in place without contractors,” he explains. 

But even after assuming the responsibility of a leading role within a top aerospace company, Duran’s impact doesn’t end there. 

He has also received several accolades for his leadership, which most recently includes the Dave Barclay Affirmative Action Award. 

It’s a prize given by the Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) STEM Conference. It celebrates those who promote affirmative action and diversity management in the realm of work, business, community, and education.  

Duran promotes affirmative action by running his own mentor program, where he works with young engineers in the University of Texas at San Antonio, to help them navigate any difficulties on their programs and land internships.  

“The most impact I’ve made is outside of the walls of work, because I think that's the biggest bang for your buck. It’s about not just holding that knowledge in but expanding it across the industry,” he says. 

For anyone else considering pursuing an MBA to make a greater impact in their career, Duran advises them to assess their own situation to decide what they want out of a program.

“I did those checks and balances to see if this program would help propel me further. Just like an airplane engine propels you to take off to go your destination, I applied that same logic here,” he says.

Student Reviews

University of Oklahoma - Price College of Business




On Campus

an Unregrettable choice of university

The University of Oklahoma has been a great experience for me. The professors are all very knowledgeable and willing to help where needed. The campus is also very beautiful and there are plenty of activities going on all the time. The student body is also really friendly and I have made a lot of new friends here. Overall, I'm really glad I chose OU and would recommend it to anyone looking for a great college experience.




On Campus

It is a life changing experience for me.

I am enrolled in a Ph.D. program that is research-intensive. I get continuous guidance from my supervisors that help me to conduct my research skillfully. I will gladly recommend students to study here.





Good institution

Good institution for in class courses. Online classes are pretty hard because the instructors are most of the time not available. The student has to do everything on their own without any assistance.





Best school ever

This has been the best experience. of my life! Freshman year completely changed my life in so many ways! Through club’s organizations and social events the university of Oklahoma became my home. I loved being there




Amazing Univeristy

OU is an amazing university. Love the athletic department so much. They have so much hype and love for their athletes and students typically maintain a healthy lifestyle. I’m engineering student and OU has one of the best teachers and facilities I had so far. I know their engineering program is prestigious but I don’t know much about the other departments. Beautiful campus and amazing social events. Diversity is enormous. LOVE IT SIMPLY.




On Campus

Getting the best at OU

I am a current student at the University of Oklahoma and I must say, I am extremely impressed with the quality of education and resources available here. The professors are knowledgeable and truly care about their students' success. The campus is beautiful and there are always events and activities happening. The community at OU is welcoming and diverse, making it a great place to grow and learn. I highly recommend this university to anyone looking for a well-rounded and fulfilling college experience. Boomer Sooner




On Campus

Everybody is really helpful over here

The university has beautiful buildings and scenic fields with benches for enjoying the weather. There are a lot of nice students, so it's a pleasant experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the classes and gained valuable knowledge from the professors. It was a pleasure to work with my professors during my first year, as communication was easy and they consistently made themselves available during office hours, accommodating any scheduling conflicts. I had a smooth academic transition into college thanks to the great faculty.




On Campus


I would say it is the best university in town. The education, knowledge, curriculum, extra curriculum activities, modern laboratories, big grounds, and spacious classrooms. I would say everyone who can should study here.