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The Engineering Management Program At Washington State University: A Distance Education Industry Partnership Success Stories

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.998.1 - 6.998.5

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Paper Authors

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James Holt

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Hal Rumsey

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E. Ray Ladd

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2642

The Engineering Management Program at Washington State University: Distance Education Industry Partnership Success Stories Authors: E. Ray Ladd, James R. Holt, and Hal A. Rumsey Washington State University

Abstract The Engineering Management Program at Washington State University has an innovative university/industry partnership for training tomorrow’s technical leaders. The Engineering Management graduate degree is designed to meet the educational needs of working engineers with a thrust towards project management, manufacturing management, quality engineering, systems engineering, design for manufacturing and theory of constraints. Students can choose from electives to customize this study of world-class management of technology. The Washington Higher Education Telecommunication System (WHETS), web-based instruction, and satellite allow the delivery of Engineering Management courses throughout the State and nationwide. Participants come from a multitude of industries and companies.

This paper concentrates on the relationship with one company, The Boeing Company, with corporate offices in Seattle, Washington, with students and facilities across the country. Students of the Engineering Management Program complete class projects as a normal part of every course and as a final end-of- program project. These projects address issues that apply within their organizations. This paper explores the value The Boeing Company has received from the student projects. A recent survey of 55 students reported 109 projects valued at $39.1 million for an average of $710,000 per student for those reporting. This paper summarizes ten representative projects.

Educational Value There is general acceptance that a college education is valuable. Having a college degree conveys a message that the student has a general understanding of governments and politics, history and culture, biology and science, languages and physiology, communications and writing, reasoning and critical thinking. It is difficult to put a value on the benefit of having this broad knowledge and general skills. You can’t put a price tag on attitude, approach, self-esteem, individual growth and the development of personal responsibility. But, it is easy to imagine the costs of not having them. The outcome of uninformed decisions, misunderstandings, and confusion could be monumental. It is easy to see why many employers require a college degree as a prerequisite for employment in decision-making positions.

Most studies of the value of education focus on the value to the individual. In this situation, the value of the specific skill can be determined by measuring the difference between the personal incomes of the different graduates. Comparing the starting salary of a computer science graduate with that of a liberal arts graduate can identify the relative additional value of specialized skills to the marketplace. However, this is a very short-sided view that bases educational value only on the value to the individual and not to the employer. Such comparisons do not portray the whole picture. An additional important dimension is what the students accomplish of value for their employers.

Washington State University’s Engineering Management Program focuses on working professionals. Consequently, the students have the opportunity to actually apply their new knowledge as they learn. Each course requires students to write a paper or complete a project that applies the tools and techniques of that course in their working environment. The Program also includes a final, end-of-program project that requires students to integrate the many topics studied as part of their graduate work and at the same time focus with some specific tools into the technical management concerns of their employment.

The class projects encourages students to go beyond superficial understanding and try to integrate the realities of their world with the theory and practice of technical management. The class project brings relevancy to the course material and engages students in the learning process. The final end-of-program project often produces a significant contribution toward the improvement of technical management. Both

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Holt, J., & Rumsey, H., & Ladd, E. R. (2001, June), The Engineering Management Program At Washington State University: A Distance Education Industry Partnership Success Stories Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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