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Lessons Learned from Volkswagen Scandal

greg026 croppedBy: Gregory S. Hopper, Adjunct Associate Professor

Volkswagen is an iconic company. It employs 600,000 people worldwide and is the parent company to Porsche, Audi, Bugatti, and several other well known marques. Launched by Hitler in WWII, it worked its way out of that shadow and became known for cars built with fine German engineering – the key element of their promise of value.

Today, VW is a cheater. Their “clean diesel” engine, specifically the Type EA 189, is a fraud. The company installed software in the engine control unit that senses when a car is being tested for emissions, and turns all the emission control devices on. When the car is being driven normally, the same software senses those conditions, and turns the emission control devices off. Nitrous oxide emissions are as much as 35 times higher on the road than when under test. 482,000 cars powered by these “clean diesel” engines have been sold in the US since 2009. Further investigation has uncovered that the cheating affects 11 million cars worldwide.

What could drive this sort of egregious behavior? Here’s my theory: around 2009, VW stated that it wanted to become the #1 automaker in the world, and would do just about anything to reach that goal. In June of this year, VW passed Toyota’s shipments for the first six months of the year, becoming #1.

But at what cost?

Imagine a scenario where you are the Senior Product Manager for the Type EA 189 “clean diesel” engine. You have rigorous specifications for fuel economy, performance, and emissions. And a schedule to meet, because this particular engine is key to the strategy to become the #1 automaker in the world.

Further imagine that you learn that there is no way that you will be able to meet all three of the (competing) specifications. Do you:

(a) Inform your manager, perhaps running the risk of losing your job?

(b) Figure out how to program the engine control module to adaptively engage the emission control devices based on the driving conditions, keeping the program on schedule?

Now let’s shift the perspective in this imaginary scenario: you are the Senior PM’s manager.

Your job is to assure that the engine is developed on time and on schedule. You have a sizable bonus at stake in the company’s drive to become the world’s #1 automaker. Your PM brings you her news. You know that the company has developed adaptive emissions technology, such as described in US Patent 5,868,646 (“Control Arrangement Accommodating Requirements of Different Countries for Motor Vehicles having an Internal Combustion Engine and Automatic Transmission”). (A patent search for “adaptive emissions controls” assigned to Volkswagen returns dozens of hits.) What do you do?

(a) Report it to senior management, and risk your job and sizable bonus?

(b) Authorize the use of engine control software to have context-aware engine control?

It is situations like this that a company’s values guide its decision-making process. Years ago, Johnson & Johnson relied on its values to respond to the Tylenol scare by pulling every single tablet of the product off the market rather than risk injury or death to its customers.

Volkswagen appears to have put the goal to be #1 ahead of the need to obey the law. In a broader perspective, the company confused financial metrics with strategy. Let me state: financial objectives (market share, profit, earnings per share, gross profit margin, “shareholder value” and so on) are not strategic objectives. They are, instead, lagging indicators of the success of strategy; lagging indicators of a firm’s ability to create value for customers.

Sam Palmisano of IBM declared in 2009 that his strategy was to achieve “$20 earnings per share”. That’s ridiculous. It’s like a football coach saying that his goal is to score 20 points per game. Scoring 20 points isn’t the objective – winning the Super Bowl is. You get to the Super Bowl by winning games over a long season. And you win games by building talent, innovating in game plans, executing well, and reacting to the situation on the field. In general, being better than your competition.

You don’t even know if 20 points will be enough to win games until you see the nature of your competition. Like a football team, a successful company needs to build talent, innovate in offerings and business model, plan strategically, execute well, and react to the situation in the marketplace. In general, be better than the competition.

Unlike football, there is no “Super Bowl” in business. There is no finish line. (Well, there is, but crossing it isn’t called “winning”. Ask Borders, Blockbuster, Circuit City, etc.) Companies must plan for the long term, over several “horizons”, to create and capture real customer value.

It is not unimaginable that the drive to be the #1 automaker in the world could instead drive Volkswagen out of business. Putting that goal ahead of the law and the trust that customers, employees, and investors had in the brand, VW’s market capitalization dropped 40% in a couple days. They face $18B in fines in the US alone; fines in other countries where the other 10.5 million cheating vehicles were sold is unknown. The cost to repair the cars has not been calculated. The 2016 models have not been released for sale in the US. The collateral damage—an “anti-halo” effect, if you will—to the other VW brands, notably Audi (which also used the Type EA 189 “clean diesel” engine), may be severe.

As we saw in our imaginary scenarios, the drive to achieve goals can lead to intense—sometimes crushing—pressure to behave unethically or illegally. The values that you formulate for your company and yourself should be the basis of your decision-making process. Financial goals are not strategies, they are the score, and will reflect the success of your strategic decisions over time.

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About: Greg Hopper created and teaches “Competitive Strategy in Technology-based Industries” for MEMP. He is a strategy and product marketing executive and entrepreneur with over 30 years experience in business strategy and marketing of technology-based solutions.  He is the CEO of Strategic Edge Executive Resources, LLC, a strategic planning, consulting, and executive education firm in Raleigh, NC.  He also serves as Strategist-in-Residence for HQ Raleigh, the leading business incubator in the Capital District, and education coordinator for ThinkHouse Raleigh.

Alumni Spotlight: How I Landed a Job in Consulting

By: Amine Bounoughaz MEMP ’14Amine

My name is Amine Bounoughaz, and I was in your shoes two years ago when I first started the MEM program. In the fall of 2013, I was fortunate to receive an offer from McKinsey & Company.

In this short article, I would like to share with you all some thoughts on what I believe were the most essential things that really made the difference in getting the job.

1) Mindset:

As MEMers, you might be feeling that you do not have an advantage in the job market, stuck between undergrads and MBA’s, especially if you don’t have a significant work experience.

This is just a mindset. The truth is: the moment you step into an interview room, people don’t care what degree you have or where you come from. It becomes about how good you are, and how much they like you. Don’t worry about titles and degrees, focus on getting good at case interviews.

2) Getting an Interview:

There are two ways to get an interview in consulting:

Through Online Applications: This is personally how I got my interview. I worked intensively with Jenny Johnson during the first weeks of the MEM program to craft my resume.

Through Networking: This is about getting someone in McKinsey to recommend you for an interview. Ideally if you know a partner/AP/EM, your life will be much easier as they can recommend you for an interview if they think you are good.

3) Preparation and Hard Work: 

There is no shortcut to success, no magical formula. I was casing every single day, at least twice, for 5 weeks. I skipped going out on weekends and traveling on fall break just to focus on getting better at it.

I went through Victor Cheng’s Look Over My Shoulder at least 5 times, both written and audio recordings. I got to the point where I was dreaming about solving a case!!!!

Also, preparation does not start when you get an interview call. It starts months before applying to a position.You should be already familiar with the industry and type of interview months in advance.

4) Knowing When to Stop: 

Even though I was casing every single day, I was terrible at it. I would get the structure off, the math wrong, and my recommendations were weak. I was a disaster. In fact, in all 60-70 cases I did, I screwed up in 90% of them.

It wasn’t because I didn’t know how to do cases, it was because I was making the same mistakes over and over and over again. I was stuck in a hole. Luckily for me, my roommate gave me the best advice at that time: “Dude, you are in a hole: STOP.”

So in my last week before the interview, I actually stopped casing. I didn’t do a single case and just let it all sink in. I relaxed, went out and also focused on my midterms.

5) Balancing Intellect with Personality: 

During my interviews, I focused on having a great time with the interviewer and making the most out of my time there. I smiled, laughed sometimes, had conversations and genuinely enjoyed every single moment in the case.

By the end of my last interview, I had just completed three 1-hour long cases and the only thing I could think of was: I want another case!!! I didn’t force anything. I was myself and the partners just loved me.

In fact, they loved me to the extent that they didn’t even wait to call me on the phone. One of the partners came to me right after my last interview and said: “Amine, you have impressed all of us, you have a bright future ahead of you. We all loved you here: When can you start?”

Go out there and crack the case,

Best,

Amine

 

Resources:

Caseinterview.com

Victor Cheng Case Interview Secrets

Victor Cheng Look Over My Shoulder

Practice

 

MEM and MEng Staff Members Shine in “Meet Your Staff” Summer Videos

By: Bridget Fletcher Associate Director, Academic and Student Services

One of the things that students often struggle with when they first arrive on campus is figuring out which staff member to go to when they have a question or problem. In an effort to proactively manage this issue, I worked closely with current MEMer, Shirin Biswas to create a video introduction to each of our primary staff members.

The videos offer some background information on each staffer, including where they grew up, went to school, and other places they’ve worked. They also outline what they do for MEM and/or MEng and the various ways that they might interact with or help students. The videos were shot at different locations across campus and all around Durham in order to allow incoming students to see some of the place they are about to call home.

The most challenging (and the most fun) video to shoot was for Assistant Director of Student Services, Lorelle Babwah. As an avid cyclist, Lorelle wanted to be filmed while riding her bike. We made it work, but there were a few crashes along the way!

staffstaff2

You can view the videos here:

Bridget: https://youtu.be/v9lXttA3_jA

Lorelle: http://youtu.be/WAcQBpgcVAg

Staci: http://youtu.be/-ekcqxA3Brg

Leah: http://youtu.be/94SWTcGbivs

Christina: http://youtu.be/s9olpVYIYyI

Jenny: http://youtu.be/_V1U_jav6Sc

Susan: http://youtu.be/L4OLlLdtWY4

Jamila: http://youtu.be/TGTtTlq3BWY

Brad: http://youtu.be/hoj1ZDVEB3Y

La Tondra: http://youtu.be/HytH_R5hSKk

4 Ways to Find a Fantastic Mentor

By: La Tondra Murray, Director of Professional Masters Programs

One of the best things that you can do in any industry is to work with a good mentor. In my experience, people often underestimate the degree to which a mentor can help you learn the landscape, build relationships and manage challenges in the workplace.  The search for a strong mentor, however, can be daunting at first thought.

Any approach can ultimately work if you can collaborate with a mentor who is willing to share his or her experiences while simultaneously getting to know you. Trust, honesty and vulnerability all play a role in strongest of mentor-protégé pairings.

The first step, however, is to find the right, willing candidate. As you search for and ultimately ask someone to serve as a mentor, here are a few things that you can do from the start:

  1. Develop clear goals for the interaction. What is it that you want to get out of a mentor-protégé relationship? Are you interested in growing your technical expertise? Do you want to learn more about the organization’s product lines? Would you like to create better strategies for work-life integration? If you give some serious thought to what you’d like to glean from your mentor upfront, you’ll be able to: 1) make a stronger case for who you specifically want to work with as well as why and 2) gain a clearer view of how you want to progress over time. You should also think about how you want to contribute as the best partnerships are mutually beneficial.
  2. Think beyond your immediate team. Sometimes is it helpful to get the perspective of someone who isn’t aligned with your department, business unit, or even your company. Mentors can certainly be internal to your organization, but consider the possibilities outside the realm of your employer as well. At the end of the day, mentors can often provide a unique vantage point based on their experience and knowledge. If you can look beyond the people you have access to on a daily basis anyway, you may be able to engage with someone else with surprising results.
  3.  Be prepared to work with more than one person. Mentors can serve different purposes in your professional life, so you don’t need to have an exclusive arrangement with a single person. As I tell my own mentees, ‘we can see other people.’ While you don’t want to have so many mentors that you can’t create a quality relationship with any of them, I do think that there is value is establishing a small ‘board of directors’ that can help you flourish in the areas that are important to you. An open mindset will release you from the expectations that one individual can help you with everything.
  4. Choose someone who is different from you. While it is often comforting to align ourselves with a mentor who shares our gender, race, educational background, etc., we may miss out on an opportunity to leverage diversity in our favor. A mentor with a background that varies from yours can provide you with unique insight. Don’t be afraid to venture beyond your comfort zone to connect with someone different. You stand to make tremendous gains if you can broaden your horizons.

Most people will be more than willing to help, but you need to take the initial step.  Figure out who you would like to learn from and reach out!

What other strategies would you suggest when it comes to finding a mentor? Leave a comment to let us know!

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Dr. La Tondra Murray and her fantastic mentor of 20+ years Dr. Mary Carol Day

Defining Professionalism

By: Jenny Johnson, Associate Director of Career Services

Professionalism. It is a word you hear often—certainly in the Professional Masters programs, but also from employers, colleagues, and fellow students. We hear it often, but what does it really mean beyond being punctual, respectful, and dressing appropriately?

Dr. Jeff Glass, Faculty Director of the Master of Engineering Management program and Professor in the ECE Department, presented a seminar to break down the word professionalism and show what it means when applied in the workplace. He did this by using mini-stories to illustrate professionalism—both overt and nuanced.

Below I have captured several of his points from the seminar, but would encourage you to watch the entire presentation, documented in the attached YouTube video. Dr. Glass is an engaging speaker and his combination of industry and academic experience brings these thoughts “to life.”

  • Under Sell, Over Deliver: Only promise what you can deliver and in your delivery, always do or show more than you were asked.
  • Adapt Your Style: In order to be successful, you as a professional will have to adapt to different leadership & work styles. You can’t expect an organization, department, or boss to change the style they have in order to make you feel more comfortable.
  • Problems and Solutions: Don’t bring a problem to your manager without having a 1st solution ready to explain as well as potential secondary solutions. Additionally, don’t bring up problems that may be perceived to be trivial.
  • What You Accomplish in Given Amount of Time is Important: It is important to be efficient, but efficient with high quality.
  • Know Your Organization: Understanding the culture, needs, history, structure, politics, etc of an organization is key in creating relationships in an organization and avoiding unnecessary drama.
  • The Focus Isn’t on What the Organization Can Do For You, But What You Can Do for the Organization: It sounds very JFK written in this form, but Dr. Glass emphasized that it is not all about you and that students/employees should concentrate on how you are contributing to the organization. What can I do right now that the organization needs? What can I bring to the organization?
  • Asking for Feedback: It isn’t effective to wait until your annual review time to ask for feedback. There is however, also a fine balance between asking for feedback at appropriate intervals and asking for too much feedback.
  • The Blame Game: Accept your roles in failures and try not to blame it on others.

How will you incorporate these into your summer internship or full-time position? How will you incorporate them in your time while you are a Duke student?

DUHatch: Don’t Wait – INNOVATE!

By: Aditya Murthy – MEng, ’14

Duke University has always been strongly committed to innovation and entrepreneurship. Being located in the Research Triangle area, there is no paucity of bright minds and path breaking ideas. All it needs is a resource to nurture these ideas and help them flourish. DUHatch is this resource.

DUHatch
DUHatch

Available to all Duke Students, our business incubator can do a lot more than providing you with a wonderful office space that you can run your idea from. It connects enterprising students having viable, innovative business ideas, with mentors from faculty and industry. It is an opportunity to give your new venture a launching platform.

Professor Jim Mundell, the Director of DUHatch, is a seasoned industry expert with executive level business experience in the medical device, semiconductor, thermoelectric, and electronic systems markets.  He most recently held the position of COO and Co-Founder at Nextreme Thermal Solutions, where he raised over $30M in venture and strategic partner funding before selling the company.  Professor Mundell has also held key executive positions at three other successful early stage companies such as Volumetrics Medical Imaging, Trivirix International, and CBA.  During Professor Mundell’s first 18 years he held senior executive positions with General Electric, Harris, SCI Systems, and CTS.  Professor Mundell has worked internationally in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan and Ireland. He holds an MBA from Purdue University’s Krannert Graduate School of Management and a BS in EET from Purdue University. Professor Mundell possesses a wealth of industry expertise and is a great person to talk to as your idea evolves from its nascent stages into a revenue generating business model.  He also teaches two business related courses in the MENG and MEM programs.

Along with our in-house expert, we can also put you in direct contact with experts from all areas of a business including legal, finance, accounting, marketing, sales, engineering, and manufacturing.  We call this our ‘Coaches-On-Call’ service.  At the start of every semester, we make a list of these experts available to all our teams. These are people with decades of experience behind them. They are willing to provide assistance with issues ranging from raising capital, intellectual property, and incorporating your company to general business and marketing strategy.  When a company is in its formative stages, money is invariably a major consideration. The opportunity to have an office space, lawyers willing to help you on a pro-bono basis, and experienced mentors to turn to for advice is invaluable.

A huge part of the success of any business is the ability to raise initial capital. To this effect, DUHatch presents the registered businesses with the unique opportunity to pitch their idea directly to potential angel investors and venture capitalist. The experience of standing in front of these investors is a huge reality check for many. It helps teams reassess their position and make the relevant modifications to their business plan in order to be able to deliver a stronger pitch the next time. At the same time, if your pitch manages to catch the guest angel or VC’s attention, you may have just found your seed funding!

DUHatch is also involved in the Summer Innovation Program. This program provides undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to receive hands-on exposure to entrepreneurship, business, and emerging technologies. It is an opportunity for teams to propel their existing start-ups into the next stage of operation. At the end of the Spring semester, a panel of judges is brought to pick one out of the various business ideas. This team is then given a stipend of $5000 to work on their idea over the course of the Summer break. Teams outside the center are also eligible and encouraged to participate, allowing for a wider range of ideas.

One of Duke’s biggest entrepreneur-centric events is the Duke Startup Challenge. Before the deadline of the 1st round, DUHatch conducts a critiquing session with Professor Mundell and a guest expert. This fall we were lucky to have Poornima Vijayashanker, also a serial entrepreneur, Professor at Duke, and founder/co-founder of BizeeBee, Femgineer, and Mint.com work with Professor Mundell. She was terrific.  This was a chance for teams to receive some validation as well as constructive criticism on their application before submitting it to the start-up challenge!

However, our biggest assets are the teams that are affiliated with the center. The myriad of bright ideas are what fuels the center. We house ideas related to Biomaterials, Hydraulic Fracking, E-Recycling, and Sports Apps to name a few. We currently have 7 participating teams: BioArt, Foam Finger, Refract, Deos LLC., Luxano Biomedical, Runner Over and Smart Metals. All these ideas have the potential to be ‘the next big thing’. We at DUHatch hope to help them realize their potential.

My role as the Student Manager of DUHatch entails communicating with the teams as well as our mentors. I work closely with the teams to understand what resources they will require and make them available to them. This includes providing them with contacts that might help them with a particular problem or scheduling a meeting with one of our coaches or Professor Mundell. My immediate goal, however, is to increase DUHatch’s visibility in the social media space. A future goal is to build University Relations with incubation centers in Silicon Valley, providing our teams with a route to bigger opportunities. This position is going to be an incredible learning curve for me and I intend to make the most of it!

Distance MEMP…the Quattro Crew

By Ross Wade, Assistant Director of Career Services

Quattro

Duke Engineering’s Pratt Professional Masters Programs offers a Master of Engineering Management distance option for working professionals. This program takes two years, and has three on-campus, week long residencies where students participate in a variety of programs and have a chance to bond. One particular cohort, “Quattro”, has developed a very tight bond. I asked them to answer a few questions to learn more about their experience.

For more information on the distance Master of Engineering Management Program (D-MEMP) click here.

Robert Frederick, US Air Force – Project Manager

Q: Why did you decide to do the D-MEMP program?

A: Best blend of flexibility, challenging classes, group project, and job/career enhancement.

Q: How has the program assisted you in reaching your professional goals?

A: I’ve learned a great deal about the technical aspects of leadership and managing a company while also giving me an outlet to practice the intangible qualities.

Q: How would you describe the D-MEMP community (classmates/”Quattro” cohort, staff, faculty)?

A: The closest, craziest and most reliable group of people despite only seeing each other once a year.

Q: Describe your experience in the D-MEMP program in THREE words.

A: Truly great experience.

 

Ryland Clark, Technimark – Quality Engineer

Q: Why did you decide to do the D-MEMP program?

A: I had been in my job for about 2 years at the time and I felt that I had a lot of knowledge from school and some experience in the workplace from the technical side but I felt like something was missing. What I felt was missing was the business side of our company. When I looked at different schools and saw the tag line “Making business savvy engineers” I knew this is what I wanted to do.

Q: How has the program assisted you in reaching your professional goals?

A:  The program has really opened my eyes to parts of my current business that I have not seen. The big picture discussions, business classes, and along with management principles have helped me with my personal goals.

Q: How would you describe the D-MEMP community (classmates/”Quattro” cohort, staff, faculty)?

A: I would say my cohort is one of the biggest positives of the programs. The staff did a great job pulling us together and helping us bond through the residencies. Throughout the semester we discuss everything from class to current situations we find ourselves in a work to help each other out. We have also flown/driven to see each other during the summer and breaks. The staff is also helpful and knowledgeable in every subject and if there is a need they can help find someone with experience who can help us.

Q: Describe your experience in the D-MEMP program in THREE words.

A:  Learning, Memories, Quattro

 

Christene Mitchell, Capital Improvement Program – Engineering Manager

Q: Why did you decide to do the D-MEMP program?

A: I wanted to get a masters degree and when I learned Duke, an accomplished university, offered a Master of Engineering Management degree that would allow me to continue to live at home and work full time, I was sold.

Q: How has the program assisted you in reaching your professional goals?

A: I expected to learn more about corporate finance to assist with financial decisions I have to make in my position, and I have.  What I did not expect that is valuable tool in my position is the D-MEMP “Quattro” mentorship.  It is great to have a close friends who you can trust and who have similar experiences to run ideas by and ask for assistance related to work.

Q: How would you describe the D-MEMP community (classmates/”Quattro” cohort, staff, faculty)?

A: I said to one faculty member this past residency, “We have a strange love for each other.”  It feels like an extended family – You can’t keep up with everything family who live away from you do, but you care about them, you want them to succeed, you trust they care for you, you try to keep in touch, and when you do see them, it takes no time to be back in sync, enjoying your time together.

Q: Describe your experience in the D-MEMP program in THREE words.

A: Knowledge, Friends, Mentors

 

Adam Turner Lacock, NASA – Structural Dynamics Test Engineer and Robotic Lunar Lander Project Engineer

Q: Why did you decide to do the D-MEMP program?

A: D-MEMP was the perfect opportunity to grow my capabilities as an engineering manager, while maintaining my full-time career and giving me the flexibility I required to spend time with my family.

Q: How has the program assisted you in reaching your professional goals?

A:  The program has not yet directly assisted in reaching my professional goals, but I fully expect that it will provide ample opportunity to do so upon completion.

Q: How would you describe the D-MEMP community (classmates/”Quattro” cohort, staff, faculty)?

A:  The D-MEMP community is one of the best aspects of the program. The ability to work closely and network with other working (distance) professional and the on-campus faculty and staff creates an atmosphere that is comfortable, friendly, and highly conducive to personal and professional growth.

Q: Describe your experience in the D-MEMP program in THREE words.

A:  Best Decision Ever!

 

Jaimen Sanders, Southern California Edison – Engineer

Q: Why did you decide to do the D-MEMP program?

A: I was accepted to the on-campus program, but soon thereafter received a job offer. I decided I wanted to continue working and going to school as I had done for the previous couple of years.

Q: How has the program assisted you in reaching your professional goals?

A:  After receiving acceptance into such a prestigious university many of my colleagues started to more readily accept my ideas and input. I have also established the “long-term” career path I would like to take within my company of eventually becoming a manager. The program has also connected me with some highly intelligent and capable individuals with whom I can discuss my struggles and triumphs.

Q: How would you describe the D-MEMP community (classmates/”Quattro” cohort, staff, faculty)?

A:  The D-MEMP community is surprisingly close knit. Despite not constantly interacting on a daily or even weekly basis, I feel we have developed a great rapport. Everyone seems to be extremely understanding and flexible due to much differing schedules, especially in regards to me being on the west coast with a three hour time difference. The QUATTRO cohort has been particularly close, which has made this school experience much more pleasurable. The bond we have developed as a total group and throughout the group is quite surprising at times.

Q: Describe your experience in the D-MEMP program in THREE words.

A:  Difficult, Fun, Developmental

 

Adam Kohn, TE Connectivity – Materials Development Engineer

Q: Why did you decide to do the D-MEMP program?

A: As a Materials Engineer working in R&D, I wanted a distance grad program that was technically rooted but designed for the professional engineer. I came across many programs that matched by needs, but Duke’s stood out due to the residential aspect, live interaction with the professors and students, and the flexible curriculum. The program boasts a diverse and advanced array of core and technical classes suited for any engineer seeking to one day become a CTO. The residential program, consisting of 3 week long residencies, offered me the opportunity to connect with Duke’s campus and develop my skills with a cohort of students. The program is designed for students that want to feel part of a class, connected with a campus, and driven to take advanced and challenging classes.

Q: How has the program assisted you in reaching your professional goals?

A: As a young engineer, and with only one year of work experience under my belt, the program exposed me to a “toolbox’ of learning and professional resources that I would have never encountered at my job. The classes are driven by elite members of industry that are normally only available to top executives. Learning from these top professionals at such a “moldable” stage in my engineering career has created a framework that will drive me closer to my goals.

The four core classes, all focused on the business/ law side of engineering, have empowered me to make educated choices at work that reflect the talents of those embodied by CTOs of a company. More importantly, the 4 technical electives offer the extra unique “Duke” touch in the sense that all distance students can mold the program to suite the needs of their career. As a Materials Engineer working in R&D, the ability to take classes focused on product development and innovation has enabled me to stay “true” to my roots as a Materials Engineer while growing my business acumen to that next level!

Q: How would you describe the D-MEMP community (classmates/”Quattro” cohort, staff, faculty)?

A: The faculty, staff, and cohort have helped make the experience truly unique and distinctive from what one might experience at any other distance program. Duke’s MEM faculty go the extra mile to ensure that every distance student feels connected to campus. For example, the director of the program, Dr. Murray, hosts semester “group” check-ins to make sure that the program is exceeding our expectations, and helps address any concerns shared by the cohort. The teachers even offer virtual office hours for the distance students. One professor generously raffled off his seats to the Duke vs UNC basketball game for any distance student that could make it to campus.

Most importantly, the cohort and 3 residencies shape the program into a student driven academic experience. The students in the distance program are located all over the country (and globe), but each and every classmate has become a peer, professional comrade, and lifelong friend! Uniquely, d-MEMP students are also paired with on campus students for projects, enabling all distance students to feel truly connected to campus.

Needless to say, Duke goes the extra mile to create a second home for the distance students and create a platform for professional development that one cannot experience in their job.
Q: Describe your experience in the D-MEMP program in THREE words.

A: Student Focused Program.

MEM or MEng? What is your path?