Alumnus Steve Denning, IM 1970, plays key role in start of new program for undergraduates.
To compete in today's high-tech, global economy, more and more companies seek to recruit talent possessing both managerial and technological know-how. But finding such graduates in short supply at most universities, many businesses report having to spend significant amounts of time and money to bridge the training gap for new employees.
Georgia Tech's Colleges of Management and Engineering are working together to meet the corporate need for graduates who can succeed on the interdisciplinary teams that are now standard in industry. The two Colleges recently announced the development of the Technology and Management Program, which will enable undergraduate engineering and management students to learn one another's language through coursework in their respective fields as well as teamwork to solve real-world problems.
Set to start in fall 2008, the program will initially allow undergraduates to earn certification in Technology and Management. Within several years, the program aims to offer students the option of earning dual bachelor's degrees in both engineering and management. "We anticipate that this program will help us attract some of the nation's most promising high school seniors to Georgia Tech," says College of Management Dean Steve Salbu.
His in-depth discussions with students, alumni, and corporate leaders over the past year have highlighted the need for the program's interdisciplinary approach. "Many current engineering and management students are already excited about the program," Salbu says. "They recognize that their desired career paths will demand strong skill sets in both disciplines. The Technology and Management Program will set them apart from graduates of other universities, greatly enhancing their leadership ability and earning potential."
College of Engineering Dean Don Giddens adds: "Georgia Tech is renowned for excellent programs in engineering and management. The fusion of these fields through the Technology and Management program will further heighten the Institute's reputation as a world leader in interdisciplinary education. I'm confident that the program will be extremely popular with our undergraduates."
Admission into the Technology and Management Program will be highly competitive, with initial enrollment of about 60 students a year. Students will apply in the spring semester of their sophomore year (beginning in spring 2008) to enter the program at the start of their junior year.
The curriculum for Technology and Management certification will require approximately 22 credit hours. Participating students won't have to sacrifice disciplinary depth in their major fields of study. They should also be able to graduate within four years because the program will enroll top students who likely entered Tech with multiple advanced placement credits.
All Technology and Management students will take courses together focusing on teamwork, collaborative product development, business process modeling, sustainable business practices, and integrated project management. Courses for management students could include introductions to materials, mechanics, and electrical or computer engineering.
In an integrated capstone project course, interdisciplinary teams will work on a real-world project for one of the major corporations recruited to help with the program. These projects will require students to solve significant problems involving both technical and managerial issues.
Corporate interest in the program is already strong, reports Linda Oldham, the College of Management's associate development director, who is responsible for recruiting representatives of major corporations to serve on an external advisory panel for the program. In addition to helping with capstone course projects, these corporate affiliates will provide strategic guidance and support for the program's continual improvement.
"Companies we're talking to are excited about this program because they need engineers who understand market forces and the financial implications of technology investment," Oldham says. "They also need management majors who understand the technical aspects of process and product development, as well as the capabilities and constraints of the engineering disciplines."
When Steven Denning first heard about the Technology and Management Program, he recognized the tremendous impact it would have on students' careers and companies' success. A 1970 IM graduate of Georgia Tech College of Management, Denning recently committed to giving $5 million over five years to help make the Technology and Management Program a reality.
Denning, chairman of General Atlantic LLC, built his global private equity firm by investing in technologies with potential to transform industries and markets in ways that improve society. With approximately $15 billion in capital under management, his firm has helped build more than 160 companies that have provided or used technology in new and innovative ways.
Denning is confident that his investment in the innovative Technology and Management Program will yield great returns. "This initiative will prepare a new generation of business and engineering leaders who will have exposure to both disciplines and who will be able to secure the most competitive jobs upon graduation and demonstrate superior performance in their careers," he says.
His investment will endow a professorship in Technology and Management, enabling Georgia Tech to recruit a leading academic to serve as faculty director of the program, as well as provide other support critical to the program's creation and sustainability, including curriculum development, advertising and promotion, expanded faculty involvement, and administrative leadership.
Continued donor support will accelerate the program's evolution to also include a five-year dual degree program in Technology and Management. That degree option will make Georgia Tech even more attractive to the world's best students, notes Dean Salbu.
Meeting the need
Mark Ferguson, chair of the Faculty Committee now developing the Technology and Management curriculum, wishes there had been a similar program in place during his undergraduate studies in mechanical engineering. When he started his career as a manufacturing engineer at IBM after graduating from Virginia Tech in 1991, he found that every project he worked on was interdisciplinary, involving marketing, operations, and other business professionals.
"Most universities' engineering programs now afford little opportunity to work on interdisciplinary teams," says Ferguson, an associate professor of operations management, whose corporate experiences motivated him to delve into the business side by earning his doctorate in business administration from Duke University after receiving his master's in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech. "I recognized that I needed to broaden my knowledge of other disciplines."
For more than 20 years, Georgia Tech College of Management has offered the opportunity for master's and doctoral students in engineering and the sciences to develop their business skills by earning an MBA (formerly known as MSM, master of science in management) through the dual degree option of the Technology Leadership Program. Interest in that program has surged in recent years, as more technologists have recognized that they need business training to rise beyond technical management.
"We expect undergraduate interest in the Technology and Management Program to be just as high, especially after we expand it to include both the certification and dual-degree options," says Dean Salbu. "Over time, with continued support, we aim to greatly expand the number of students this innovative program can accommodate."
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