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Life-Long Learning is Your Key to Success

August 2013

University of Maryland’s Clark School of Engineering

EducationUM1Life-long learning is a requirement for anyone who wants to succeed in his or her career and be a leader in the technology workforce. Marylanders have recognized this need as we lead the nation in the number of engineers and scientists with graduate degrees. These leaders have made significant contributions in our ability to foster and sustain a strong technology sector to maintain our economic security. As the region’s top ranked engineering school, the University of Maryland’s Clark School of Engineering helps engineers and technologists advance their careers by offering Master’s degrees and professional development programs designed specifically for working professionals.

“Approximately 80 percent of engineering graduates go directly into the workforce with a Bachelor’s degree, but their need for further study and professional development doesn’t stop there,” says Dr. George Syrmos, Executive Director of the University of Maryland’s programs for working engineers. “We know technology is always developing. It’s the ability to keep up with it and acquire new skills that employers tell us they are looking for in an engineer and more importantly a leader.”

For twenty years, the Clark School of Engineering has been offering graduate programs for working engineers in every major field of study in engineering. These programs allow engineers to study for Master’s degrees in 18 different academic options (see list at right).

Courses are offered in the early afternoon and evening on campus and at regional education centers throughout Maryland making them accessible to technology communities in Northeast Maryland by the Aberdeen Proving Ground, in Southern Maryland near the Pax River Naval Air Station, and along the I-270 Tech Corridor at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville. Use of state-of-the-art video teleconferencing facilities in the University’s Siegel Learning Center allows for synchronous delivery to these education sites where faculty and students can interact in a live seamless environment. This technology also allows students to take niche academic options completely online. “We’ve focused on areas in which we have a particular expertise and that can’t be done just anywhere,” says Syrmos. “Areas like Sustainable Energy Engineering, Fire Protection Engineering, Risk and Reliability Engineering, and Project Management make the Clark School the in demand institution for the private and public sectors in Maryland, the U.S., and around the world.”

In addition to keeping up with what’s new in your field, part of life-long learning is knowing when you should transition to a new area. Some of the University of Maryland’s interdisciplinary programs are in high demand fields that combine computer science, electrical and computer engineering, systems engineering, and reliability engineering. For Cybersecurity students like Nanci Gandy working on their Master’s degree that can mean the opportunity to go into an intriguing field and keep current on the latest research from the faculty. When asked about why Maryland, Nanci replied, “I feel like I always need to be developing new skills and when my employer encouraged me to get my master’s degree I started looking at programs. They had a few universities in mind, but when I found the program at Maryland, I convinced them that this was the right one for me. Now we expect to send additional employees to Maryland.” There are many things about an academic program that are important, courses offered, facilities, job prospects, and the people. Besides the knowledge gained, the people are what Gandy says she’s taking with her from Maryland. “The relationships I’ve developed with the faculty and fellow students are one of the best parts about education. Having working professionals in the program brings problem solving and diverse perspectives to our studies. It’s this network that I am establishing today that will be what I’m taking with me and making me better at what I do.”

Clark School of Engineering Office of Advanced Engineering EducationAerospace Engineering
Bioengineering*
Chemical and Biomolecular
Engineering
Civil and Environmental
Engineering
Cybersecurity
Electrical and Computer
Engineering
Energetic Concepts*
Environmental Engineering
Fire Protection Engineering*
Materials Science and Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Nuclear Engineering*
Project Management*
Reliability Engineering*
Robotics
Software Engineering
Sustainable Energy Engineering*
Systems Engineering
*also available 100% online

Other programs, like the new Robotics Master’s degree, have an impact on multiple economic sectors. Students in this program all acquire a fundamental understanding of Robotics, but can then specialize in areas that are critical for defense, healthcare, manufacturing, exploration, construction, and public safety. Professional programs like these allow students to customize their studies to meet their specific career path. For example, a student majoring in Robotics can also take Bioengineering courses to work in developing new devices and prosthetics for wounded soldiers or accident victims. Aerospace and Mechanical engineering courses are available to specialize in autonomous vehicles. It is this flexibility in curriculum that many working engineers and their employers find so desirable in professional graduate programs.

A study by the National Academy of Engineering has estimated that the half-life of an engineer’s knowledge could be as little as 2.5 years. This means that technology developments are moving so quickly that engineers are no longer locked in a single field for their entire career. The successful engineer engages in different and new topics that continue to add to their expertise. Programs like that at the Clark School of Engineering for working professionals provide the mechanism by which engineers can learn more and go further in their careers. They work with industry and government to ensure that their needs are met by having highly skilled and effective employees. And, the benefit to Maryland is a strong economy and a workforce that leads the nation.

Paul Easterling is Director of Education Development and Communications in the Clark School of Engineering’s Office of Advanced Engineering Education. To learn more about how to advance your career, go to advancedengineering.umd.edu or call 301-405-7200. I95

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