Saturday, October 7, 2006

MIT’s SDM Program marks 10 years of evolution, success - SDM Pulse, Fall 2006

A decade after its creation in 1996, MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program continues to attract some of the world's most talented mid-level leaders. Each year, accomplished engineers, entrepreneurs, career military personnel, and rocket scientists, among many others, expand their horizons by choosing an SDM degree over a traditional MBA or Master of Science degree.

According to Pat Hale, Director of the SDM Fellows program, there are several reasons why.

“Mid-career technical professionals often find that the traditional MBA does not offer adequate, if any, engineering or science subjects, while a master’s in engineering does not provide education in business and managerial issues,” he explains. 

Consequently, as SDM’s first-rate reputation continues to spread, an increasing number of mid-career professionals choose to pursue SDM's Master of Engineering and Management degree over an MBA to help them gain the technical, as well as the managerial, knowledge they need to lead in a wide range of functions, in virtually any industry. The degree is conferred jointly by MIT Sloan School of Management and MIT's School of Engineering.

Another plus for students and their employers is SDM's career compatible formats. "SDM was initially intended to help partner companies prepare future product development leaders for more complex system design and management challenges, which is why we always included a distance-option and a career compatible, two-year program," Hale explains. Students can finish the program in 13 months under the full- time option or in 24 months by commuting to the MIT campus or attending classes with their peers via distance learning.

John M. Grace, SDM’s Industry Co-Director, says that SDM professors strive to design project assignments that allow part-time students to apply their learnings to challenges they face on the job. “Employers of SDM students can begin to see ROI quickly," says Grace.

Grace notes that SDM graduates hold leadership positions in engineering, operations, project management, general marketing and sales in industries as diverse as high tech, banking, consulting, and automotive. 

SDM is now the prestige program for mid-career leaders from technical backgrounds," says Grace, who during his tenure as VP of Engineering and Technology sponsored several high-potential leaders to the program. “As importantly, companies are recognizing that having SDM alums with their state-of-the-art MIT education in engineering and management gives them a significant  competitive advantage.

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