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Pre-Arrival Programming in China – Duke MEM Shares Best Practices at WISE

BridgetBy: Bridget Fletcher, Associate Director of Academic and Student Services

The Duke MEM program has been visiting China each May for the past three years. Our visits are with admitted students, so the focus is on pre-arrival programing, rather than recruitment. We typically meet with 10-15 students in Beijing and 15-20 students in Shanghai. We hold one-on-one conversations with each student to give them an opportunity to ask us questions about MEM, Duke, Durham, the US, the job market, really anything! Some common questions are about whether to complete the program in 2 or 3 semesters, how to stay safe on campus, how to avoid bed bugs, how to navigate the US party culture, and whether or not they will need a car. These are not questions we would expect to get my email, so the in-person visits allow students to ask about things that might be worrying them, but they wouldn’t otherwise ask.

Bridget 2We also hold group sessions in each city, which typically feature a couple of current students as well as alumni. These sessions allow the incoming students to get a student’s perspective on the program and an alumni perspective on how the program has impacted their career. We also provide the students with suggestions and materials for summer preparation. We encourage the students to be thinking about preparing to use English on a daily basis, practicing networking, getting their resume and LinkedIn profiles ready, and sorting out some general moving logistics.

These trips have proven to be very helpful for us. We have found that students are generally more comfortable when they arrive and, in many cases, seemingly more open to new experiences. We have also seen a marked improvement in English communication skills and classroom participation. Additionally, the students are more willing to speak up when they have a question or concern, which means it’s easier for us to help them. Another HUGE benefit is that we get to better understand Chinese culture by being immersed in it for a few weeks. By doing this we become better at serving the needs of our Chinese student population.

10444777_10152458032496950_5526634359830460157_nSince we have had such a positive response to our pre-arrival programs, Jenny Johnson (Associate Director for Career Services) and I decided to put together a workshop for other universities to learn about our model. We were able to present our workshop at the WISE (Workshop on Intercultural Skills Enhancement) Conference at Wake Forest University this past November. We focused on how our pre-arrival trips to China came to be, the improvements we have experienced since implementing these trips, and helping other universities determine if this type of investment would be beneficial for them. The session was met with a great response and a lot of positive feedback from universities all over the US (and even one on Australia!).

MEM staffers Jenny Johnson and Staci Thornton (Academic Coordinator) will be headed to Beijing and Shanghai this May for our fourth Pre-arrival programming trip to China. They are very excited to meet the incoming Chinese MEMers and to spend some time with alumni (all while eating delicious xiao long bao).



Admitted Student Day 2015


By: Malena Lum MEMP ’15

The 5th annual MEM/MEng Admitted Student Day (ASD) was held on Friday, March 27, 2015. This event was a great opportunity for applicants, who have been granted admission into the MEM and MEng Programs to get a first-hand glimpse of how amazing the Duke experience really is, participating in activities such as a sample class, a sample workshop, lunch with the staff and current students, campus tour, seminar, and much more.

IMG_6395ASD started with a warm welcome and overview of the programs, where attendees were able to meet the faculty and staff behind the MEM and MEng Programs such as Dr. La Tondra Murray, Director of the Professional Masters Programs in Engineering and Bridget Fletcher, Associate Director of Academic and Student Services for the Professional Masters Programs in Engineering.  This was followed by a sample class, Management in High Tech Industries, which is one of the core courses in both programs that focuses on managerial decision-making and leadership.  Also, the Career Services team gave a brief overview of the variety of resources they have available dedicated to only students in the MEM and MEng Programs.

After this great start, attendees were led to a lunch with the faculty, staff and current students, where they had a chance to talk more about core courses and elective options. During the lunch, each professor gave a brief presentation on their course.

Lunch was followed by an interactive IMG_6439sample workshop, housing overview presented by current students, and a student panel to answer specific questions about Duke, Durham, courses, and activities in general.

One of the highlights of ASD is the campus tour, where prospective students interact with potential future classmates while exploring the beautiful campus. Following the campus tour was a seminar, a core requirement of both programs, and a cultural presentation. Every week, the program brings in an industry speaker to share some insights about their experiences in diverse industries. This helps students in the MEM and MEng Programs learn how to best position themselves to succeed in the industry and excel in their careers. Every Friday after seminar, students from a particular country give a short and fun cultural presentation, followed by delicious food from that country.

At the end of a long but fun day, the student body had also organized a social event to mingle with other students in a more informal setting, watch the Duke’s basketball team win, and give prospective students an opportunity to experience life as a Duke student.


Admitted Students Day MEMP 

Admitted Student Day MEng 

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?

Duke MEMP Interview with Dr. Daniel Egger

Duke MEMP Interview with Prof Safak Yucel

MEMP Faculty Interview: Professor Theodore G. Ryan

Electical & Computer Engineering Student Showcase Event

By Ross Wade, Assistant Director of Career Services

On January 24, Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering held its first Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) Student Showcase event. The event, sponsored by the Master of Engineering Program and Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, provided ECE students (undergraduate and graduate) the opportunity to share an innovative class project to invited employers. Engineers and recruiters from Facebook, Qualcomm, NetApp, Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle visited student tables to hear (and experience) some of the projects students are working on.

ECE Photo 1

Student projects included:

Robo-Arm – A 3D printed hand mimicking the motion of a human hand in real time. The system is Arduino based. A sensor-embedded glove it worn on the hand, its movements are then replicated by the 3d printed hand.

Personal Finance Companion – Software that manages daily transactions and financial account information, can be used to set up budgets, and remind you of upcoming financial events.

Greedy Mario Game – A game that can turn snake-like chain cubelets into a cube when manipulated by the player (the player needs to fit each segment of the chain into a cube by deciding the movement of each of those segments through the direction button). The game can provide a hint prior to each player’s move. The game ends when the entire chain fits into the cube.


Students found the event exciting and stated that having a project to discuss with employers helped them with connecting and networking.

Employers found the event interesting and thoroughly enjoyed connecting with ECE students; a member from the IBM team stated, “I was so impressed with one team of engineers that I contacted them them afterward.  This team embodied the spirit of engineering and it was refreshing to see this creativity, teamwork, and applied science used to positively shape the world around them.  In the professional world it’s too easy to loose this engineering spirit for other goals.”

A networking breakfast and lunch was held so students, employers, ECE faculty and staff could talk about industry trends, career paths, and Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering.

The employers that participated in the showcase were surveyed after the event and provided five great tips students should consider when preparing for similar events.

1. When discussing your project, remember to discuss the challenges you faced and the solutions you found; this helps employers understand how you think through challenges and also reflects other important non-technical skills such as communication, team work, persuasive, and analytical.

2. Explain your projects from a high level (from a broader perspective and not too technical) so a variety of employers (including non-technical recruiters) can understand the purpose of the project, the steps you took during the project, and the result.

3. When engaging with employers, ask thoughtful questions. Do not ask, “What should I put on my resume?” Ask company representatives how their company works, how different offices interact, etc. Ask about current technology trends and how those trends are affecting their company.

4. Have a variety of display materials – the more interactive your project the better! In addition to a laptop, add flyers, models, games, etc.

5. Smile and have good eye contact. Employers want to know you are excited about your work and have confidence in your project.


Distance MEMP…the Quattro Crew

By Ross Wade, Assistant Director of Career Services


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.

Admitted Students Day

By Maahir Shah, MEM ’13


Admitted Students’ Day (ASD), held in the last week of March, gives applicants who have been granted admission into the MEM and MEng Programs an opportunity to experience the education, culture and network at Duke first-hand. While this event is predominantly attended by applicants who are already in the US, several international applicants attend this event as well. ASD 2013 in particular was attended by a diverse group of over 50 prospective students from Belgium, China, India, Pakistan, Panama, Puerto Rico, Russia and all over the US.

ASD is traditionally held on a Friday and since several attendees arrive in Durham the day before, our current students organize an informal gathering with them on Thursday night at a restaurant in downtown Durham. This gives the attendees an opportunity to experience some amazing local Durham culture and cuisine as well as get introduced to the diverse student body in the MEM and MEng Programs.

ASD kicks off the next day with an early morning check-in that is accompanied by some coffee and breakfast. At the check-in, students are handed out an agenda and several brochures which provide valuable information about the program such as descriptions of the courses offered, career options, contact information of the faculty and staff and much more. The prospective students are then ushered into an auditorium where they are given a warm welcome by the Directors of the programs. During this introduction and program overview, several attendees have testified that they truly saw the value proposition of joining the MEM and MEng Programs at Duke. This is then followed by a short sample class on Management and Business that is taught by one of our esteemed faculty members and is a mandatory course for students in the program.

After a short break, the prospective students are lead to one of our faculty halls where several tables are set up for one of the favorite sessions of our attendees – the lunch with faculty. During this session, prospective students are assigned lunch tables. Seated at each table is a member of our faculty or staff as well as a current student. This gives our attendees a distinct advantage of getting the viewpoint of a professor as well as a student who has experienced the program. During the session, each professor also gives a short introduction to all students about themselves, the course(s) they teach and the value proposition and industry relevance for students interested in the course. The session usually ends with a break out where attendees can network with faculty, staff and current students to learn more and ask specific questions which they have in mind.

Lunch with Faculty

Lunch is followed by three short but very important sessions. The first one is a short session on Housing where several current students brief prospective students about where most MEMP and MEng students tend to stay and how they can go about searching for and acquiring accommodation for their duration in the program. This session is particularly useful for international students and students who are not local to the area. One of the key indicators of the success of this session is that most attendees end up living in one or two of the apartment complexes that current students suggest. As a result, most students in the program live very close by which creates a good platform for social activities during their time in the program. This session is followed up by a session on Career Services. During this time, our Career Services Team which is dedicated to only students in the MEM and MEng Programs, give students a glimpse into the variety of resources they have available in order to look for jobs and internships. During this session, prospective students truly understand the value of the network and opportunity for professional, personal and career development that they have available at Duke University. The last in the series of these sessions is the Student Panel. A diverse panel of current students is gathered into the auditorium where prospective students can ask questions to the current students about anything they have in their mind. Traditionally, questions range from housing, courses, career opportunities, the network at Duke, social activities and much more. The session adds value to the ASD experience since our attendees get an opportunity to learn about the experiences of several current students who are currently in the program.

Up next is one of the other highlights of ASD – The Campus Tour. Duke has a large and beautiful campus and the campus tour is an opportunity for students to immerse themselves into the culture at Duke University. Prospective student are split into small groups where they can get to know each other. Each tour group is led by one or two current students. Attendees get the opportunity to visit several places on West Campus which is where MEMP and MEng students spend most of their time. Some of the places include the classrooms where classes are held such as CIEMAS, Hudson and Teer, Perkins and Bostock Library, the local West Campus Hangout – the Bryan Center, the Duke Chapel, Fuqua School of Business and The Law School where MEMP and MEng students can take classes and the legendary Cameron Indoor Basketball Stadium. Prospective students enjoy the tour which usually takes about an hour. However, this can be extended by the number of pictures that students tend to take on this tour.

As we approach the end of ASD, students are led to our Seminar Hall to experience a core requirement of the programs – Seminar. Every week, the program brings in an industry speaker to share some insights about their experiences in diverse industries and this relates to how the MEM and MEng Programs can position students to succeed and excel in their career. The seminar is usually followed by another great part of the programs – the Cultural Presentation. Every year, the MEM and MEng Programs have a diverse student body from over 20 countries of the world. Every Friday, after Seminar, a student from a particular country delivers a short and fun presentation about their culture. This creates an excellent platform for inter-cultural learning which is crucial in today’s business environment of diverse and global teams. The presentation is followed by food from that culture and short message from the Program Director thanking the prospective students for their attendance.

While it may seem that ASD has come to an end, current students do not call it quits so early on a Friday. Our current students offer to show attendees around Durham and organize a social event in Durham. Quite often, as it happened during ASD 2013, there is a Duke Basketball game on that Friday night. This gives prospective students an opportunity to experience Duke Basketball and meet with almost all current students in the program. Friday nights are an integral part of the social activities at Duke and this gives prospective students an opportunity to truly experience life as a Duke student.

With that, a fun-filled day comes to an end where we tell our prospective students that we look forward to seeing them in Fall when they accept their offers. And, for the most part, we see most of these students enter the program. ASD gives prospective students the unique opportunity to truly experience Duke as if they were an MEMP or MEng student. Several prospective students have personally testified how instrumental ASD was in helping them make their choice to accept their offer of admission from the MEM or MEng Program at Duke University. ASD has been a vital contributor in helping these students embark on and succeed in their journey as an MEMer or MEnger.