1 Florida Institute of Technology (UNITED STATES)
2 Florida Polytechnic Institute (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 7926-7930
ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.1864
Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain
This paper presents seven key considerations based on the actual experiences from a graduate engineering degree program offered at two high-tech corporations. To achieve a competitive edge top U.S. corporations in general, but high tech corporations in particular continue to undergraduate students with high scholastic records. Beyond this hiring practice, corporations also send their selected high achieving employees for higher education. Corporations believe that these two education related factors together could result in greater return on their employee investment in the long run.

The Department of Engineering Systems (DES) within the College of Engineering at Florida Institute of Technology has been offering a Master of Science degree in Systems Engineering (MSSE) to two local high tech corporations for the last 13 years. To date, over 300 employees from these two corporations have graduated with their MSSE degrees. A total of 18 rotations or cohorts have been completed. Each rotation entails a group of students working in locked-step to start at the same time and graduate at the same time. Due to its continued success, both corporations anticipate continuation of the MSSE program in the future.

Seven key considerations can be attributed to the success of these industry programs:
1. Rigor Consistency: From the beginning, both corporations required DES to not compromise on the curriculum and rigor of the course contents and keep them consistent with the main campus program. DES faculty continues to maintain the same course contents and teaching style as on the main campus.
2. Corporation Specific Assignments: The only difference between the main campus course contents versus the industry program is in the area of assignments. Where applicable, industry students are able to apply learned topics to their specific problems on hand in their corporation. Of course, data confidentiality consideration is adherently kept in mind.
3. Dedicated Website for Course Material: All course material including video lectures, presentations, book chapters, etc. are stored on a dedicated website available for busy working professionals 24/7.
4. Evening Classes: All classes are offered in the evenings after work. This enables employees to attend classes without jeopardizing their daily work schedule.
5. Special Class Schedule: Courses are offered year round outside of semester restrictions, but keeping in mind vacations and holidays of both the university and the corporation. This helps to complete the degree program in a little over two years.
6. Logistical Tasks: DES coordinates carefully with Florida Tech Admissions to expedite student admission. Course registration is done automatically and the tuition reimbursement is facilitated with special forms prepared in conjunction with the corporation’s human resources department. This saves time on the part of the employees who are already busy with job-related tasks, can spend time only on learning and completing assignments.
7. Quick Response to Issues: Sometimes issues do arise with respect to specific students or faculty. DES is able to connect quickly with the corporate point of contact to resolve it.

Authors want to share this actual experience with the readers with the hope to assist those who are interested in industry programs.
Industry Graduate Programs, Rigor Consistency.