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UI, ISU Program Helps Iowa Engineering and Tech Businesses Grow

A pair of graduation ceremonies later this month will celebrate a unique collaboration among the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and Iowa's businesses that rewards not just the students but the entire state.

The reward for the 19 students who have completed the Dual Degree Program are an MBA degree from the University of Iowa's Tippie School of Management and a Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering from Iowa State University.

The reward for Iowa is a new crop of business leaders cross-trained in engineering and business administration that can help the state's businesses grow.

"The Executive Engineer Dual Master's Degree Program is a unique collaboration between industry and academia that can be an important tool in strengthening Iowa's economy," said John Fraser, director of the UI Executive MBA Program. He said that while the curriculum was designed by academic experts at the two universities, the state's business community contributed heavily to its development. "The program was created specifically for engineering managers and engineers with the potential for advancement, and it gives them the engineering and business tools that are needed in today's global marketplace."

Students are all mid- to upper-level engineering executives from such Iowa companies and organizations as Rockwell Collins, Deere & Co., General Mills, Maytag, HON Industries, Iowa State University, Bandag, Schneider Electric and the U.S. Army. As a result, the Dual Degree participants are not the typical student you might find in an MBA or engineering graduate classroom. Their average age is 36 years old and they have been working in the field for 14 to 15 years. Fraser said their accomplishments and career goals mean they will likely stay with their employer for many years to come and provide the leadership necessary to help those companies grow.

"These leaders will take what they learned in the Dual Degree program back to their employers and create more innovation, which leads to more work for their companies and more employees and more jobs," said Fraser. "Ultimately, it leads to a trickle-down effect that helps Iowa remain competitive in a global economy."

Fraser said the students' level of experience also creates a different dynamic in the classroom, and the combination of their practical experience and the professor's research expertise provides great fodder for classroom discussion. The program lasts for five semesters, with classes held at the University of Iowa's Cedar Rapids Center to take advantage of the latest instructional technology in use there. The students participate in two weeks of residency, one at the beginning of the first year at UI, the other at the start of their second year at ISU. To ensure that the participants gain an understanding of the cultural and language differences of today's global market, they also spend 10 days during the program overseas for an intensive international experience.

Students complete two courses within an eight-week time span; classes meet one day a week on alternate Fridays and Saturdays. This year's class is the second to graduate; the first graduated in 2002, and the next will begin meeting in January 2007 for an expected graduation date in 2009.

The students will be honored for their accomplishments later this month. Their MBA diplomas will be presented during a dinner in the State Room in UI's Iowa Memorial Union on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. They will receive their MESE diplomas in formal graduation ceremonies at ISU on Friday, Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. in C.Y. Stephens Auditorium.


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