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Engineers Tackle Dual Degree Program

By Erin Morain

Engineering executives from some of Iowa's top businesses and organizations will receive post-graduate diplomas from two state universities this week as part of a unique cross-training program.

The 19 students have completed five semesters of coursework in the Dual Degree Program, a collaboration between the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and Iowa businesses that allows students to work simultaneously toward an M.B.A. from the U of I's Tippie School of Management, which they received at a dinner on Saturday, Dec. 10, and a master of engineering in systems engineering degree from ISU, which they will receive Friday in a formal graduation ceremony.

Jarrod Ruckle, a product engineer at Deere & Co. in Ankeny, was nominated by his manager to enroll in the program. He had already been considering going for an M.B.A., but the additional classes in the program, specifically ISU's emphasis on project management, appealed to his career goals.

"It was definitely a challenge, but it's achievable," Ruckle said. He said working with a five-person team throughout the five semesters was one of the program's biggest advantages, allowing others to pick up some of the slack on group projects when he was too busy at work.

John Fraser, director of the Executive M.B.A. program at Iowa, said the program creates a new crop of business leaders that are cross-trained in engineering and business administration, and are equipped with the skills needed to help Iowa businesses grow.

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

This year's graduates are either mid- to upper-level engineering executives from companies such as Rockwell Collins Inc., Deere & Co., Maytag Corp., HNI Corp., Bandag Inc., Schneider Electric and General Mills Inc., or with public-sector organizations like Iowa State University and the U.S. Army.

Students completed two courses within an eight-week period, with classes held one day a week, and completed two weeks of on-campus residency. They also spent 10 days in Brazil, where they studied the cultural and language differences of today's global market.

This year's class is the second to graduate from the Dual Degree Program, the first having graduated in 2002. The next program will begin meeting in January 2007, with graduation expected in 2009.

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