Faculty to Vote on New DegreeBy David D. Hsu
Tomorrow the faculty will vote on a motion to establish a new Master of Science program in System Design and Management.
The new master's degree is a joint program between the School of Engineering and the Sloan School of Management.
If passed, the program would start during the next fall term and is aiming toward an enrollment of 40 students.
The program will entail the combination of technical knowledge with management in designing new systems, said Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics Edward F. Crawley '76, who has helped oversee the development of the program.
"It's basically the design of large systems and products with the same sort of rigor and process that we solve smaller scale engineering problems," Crawley said.
The master's program would target processes in large scale problems like designing a highway, communication, or air traffic control system, Crawley said. In these kinds of endeavors, "you need to be a good engineer, a good manager, and be sensitive to the needs of the community."
The program stemmed indirectly out of a need expressed from industry, Crawley said. "The leaders of industry have told us in one form or another that the principle value of MIT is as an educational resource." However, industry also seeks people with a combination of technical backgrounds and leadership skills.
In turn, the Sloan School of Management and the School of Engineering recognized this need and started planning the degree six years ago.
Some classes taught through video
The program is targeted toward engineers with at least three years of work experience.
Students would have two options in taking classes for the masters of science program.
One choice is to take a 13-month program on campus, starting from one Independent Activities Period to the following IAP, Crawley said.
The other choice is the "On-Campus / Distance Learning Hybrid." Students enrolled in this distance learning program would be able to take part in lectures and recitations from their work sites by using two-way real-time video, he said.
"The audience we want to attract is working engineers" who cannot afford to take a year off, said Professor of Management Thomas L. Magnanti, who also oversaw the last year of planning.
To ensure academic standards, the planners have "built in some mechanisms to control quality," Magnanti said.
Students would be required to spend a full 15-week semester with an additional nine weeks on campus, Magnanti said.
A committee will also evaluate the format of distance learning, Magnanti said. "We want to ensure that we are providing the best education."
A pilot program of 11 students is currently in place, Crawley said.
The Masters of Science degree in System Design and Management follows other Sloan and engineering school joint efforts like the Leaders of Manufacturing Program. "We'll probably see more [of these type of joint programs] in the future years," Magnanti said.