One month after opening a larger downtown space, the School of Continuing Studies announced a new master’s program in systems engineering management — its first course of study in a “STEM” discipline.
The master’s program, scheduled to launch in fall 2014, is a partnership with the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., with each school designing half of the 30-credit program. SCS Interim Dean Walter Rankin said that the degree will allow students to further explore the science, technology, engineering and math field, which he believes has not been a focus at Georgetown.
Other STEM-related degrees in the SCS include technology management as well as emergency and disaster management, both of which do not require students to possess an extensive background in math or statistics, unlike the new master’s program.
“The whole university has long been interested in getting into the STEM area,” Rankin said. “We’re such a strong liberal arts institution with such a great tradition there, but we hadn’t done that much with the sciences, and that’s really, really important.”
Georgetown Senior Vice President for Research and Chief Technology Officer Spiros Dimolitsas, who has worked with the Systems Engineering Research Center sponsored by the Department of Defense at the Stevens Institute since 2010, spearheaded the initiative to create the new offering.
“The new master’s program further expands Georgetown’s research capabilities in the applied and integrative research space,” Dimolitsas said in a press release.
Rankin stressed the importance of developing this partnership with Stevens, emphasizing the school’s strength in engineering.
“They have a great background. They clearly know what they’re doing,” Rankin said. “The reason the partnership is so important is that it gives us immediate access to faculty who do research in all levels of systems engineering. They are well known for it.”
Access to Stevens faculty members is a key portion of the new degree program, and experts will commute from New Jersey to Georgetown via train for weekly classes. Practitioners from leading organizations in the Washington, D.C. area will also teach classes in the program.
“Our faculty are excited to engage with the students in this innovative graduate program, underpinned by robust systems research and scholarship,” Stevens School of Systems and Enterprises Dean Dinesh Verma said in a press release.
According to Rankin, systems engineering management, which focuses on cohesive, large-scale management and system manipulation, is a growing multidisciplinary field that incorporates computing systems, financial systems, human resources systems and data systems.
“It seems like such a complex idea, but actually, I think it’s relatively simple,” Rankin said. “There are multiple systems that work with any type of organization, and what this does is help people understand how all of those systems work together.”
The degree was created in response to industry pressure, as Stevens’ official press release reported that the systems engineering management industry added more than 6,000 new jobs to the D.C. metropolitan area in 2011 alone. The SCS’s new downtown location will also give new students the opportunity to develop hands-on experience alongside their classroom knowledge.
Although the degree is a combined effort with Stevens, Rankin stressed that the program will exist entirely within the SCS.
“Even though we are in a partnership with Stevens — it’s a collaboration — the degree will be a Georgetown degree,” Rankin said. “It’s Georgetown-specific.”
Rankin also noted the importance of the new program in furthering the SCS’s mission, which aims to prepare students to enter a changing job market.
“What our school specializes in is finding jobs that are coming up five years from now, 10 years from now, and getting people ready professionally to enter those fields,” Rankin said. “The idea is not that a student would need to be an expert in all of those fields, but rather this is someone who would be able to, once they finish this degree program, understand how all of these systems work together to build a larger, cohesive unit.”