As Wen Wen explored PhD programs, she knew she wanted a supportive environment that would hone both her research and teaching abilities. Georgia Tech College of Management proved to be the ideal academic location for this native of Chengdu, China.
After she graduates with a doctorate in information technology management (ITM) in August, Wen will start as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin (a premier post for a young academic in her field).
She believes that the valuable teaching experience she gained at Tech helped set her apart from other job candidates, because many doctoral programs do not require it. "I love sharing what I've learned with students," says Wen, who began teaching Business Data Communications to undergraduates during her third year in the program.
Researching Software Industry
Her passion for research also has proven crucial to her professional success to date. Much of her research focuses on intellectual property strategies in the software industry. She's particularly interested in how the actions of large incumbent firms like Microsoft and IBM affect start-up firms employing and commercializing open-source software.
Wen explains that while proprietary players such as Apple and Microsoft have actively filed legal attacks against small firms with only shallow pockets to protect themselves from intellectual property challenges, IBM has freely donated hundreds of patents to promote open-source innovation. "IBM wants to build a protective umbrella to help firms innovate, and it can profit from the complementary market," she explains.
During her studies, Wen has found her faculty advisor, associate professor Chris Forman, and the rest of the ITM faculty to be extremely helpful as mentors. "The driving forces for me to come to Tech were the high quality of the faculty and the conducive research environment," she says. "The professors here are very accessible."
While earning her PhD, Wen also completed her MS in statistics at Tech because of its relevance to her research methods. "It was very demanding to do both degrees, requiring a lot of time and hard work," says Wen, who'd previously earned an MS in management science and engineering at Nankai University and a BS in information systems from Sichuan University.
Given the demands of two simultaneous degree programs, Wen's success at Tech is perhaps doubly remarkable. She won the 2011 Ashford Watson Stalnaker Memorial Prize for PhD student excellence as well as a Kauffman Dissertation Fellowship ($20,000), a Kauffman/Georgia Research Alliance Grant ($12,000), and a National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Honorarium for the Study of Patents Standards and Innovation ($7,500) for her research.