Diversity, Collaboration & Math Boot Camp —
and This Was Only Orientation!

EMTM students were thrown into the thick of things when they arrived on campus for orientation on Wednesday, August 20th. The four-day orientation program, designed to prepare students for all aspects of EMTM life, took place two weeks before the official start of classes.

After a check-in, continental breakfast and opening remarks from program director Dr. Dwight Jaggard, incoming students began a four-day Statistics Refresher with associate professor of electrical and systems engineering Dr. Santosh Venkatesh. “The class was great and necessary preparation — it really set the foundation and gave us a running start for core classes like Decision Models,” says Dan Hughes, vice president of product management at Visible World, an advertising technology company in New York, New York. Venkatesh also taught an optional, two-session Math Boot Camp for students looking to shore up their skills.

In the afternoon, students met with Dr. Jaggard for the first of a three-part seminar on Teamwork and Leadership where they looked at how teams work and assessed the strengths and contribution of individual team members. The academic immersion also included Introduction to Case Studies, taught by associate professor of Management Dr. Lori Rosenkopf, which prepared students to read and analyze cases, a skill that students draw on in many core classes. “When you have a technical background it helps to have a very real and useful approach to the analysis of business problems,” says Joanne Murphy, a technical briefing consultant at AT&T in Bedminster, New Jersey.

In the academic sessions, students got a firsthand feel for the quality of the faculty and the kind of academic standards and workload they could expect in the program. “It’s very exciting and very daunting at the same time, but the good news is we are all in the same boat,” says David Proctor, senior vice president of Wind River Holdings in King of Prussia, PA. “It’s clear that after 20 years the program has a nice momentum and the staff, faculty and administration has the routine down.”

“It’s all important information. There’s no fluff here,” says Tochi Iheagwara, senior systems engineer at Lockheed Martin in Rockville, Maryland.

Throughout orientation, students were also given a taste of the social dynamics, team-building and leadership skills that are an integral part of the EMTM program. “One of the reasons I chose this program was to work on my communication and teamwork skills,” says Alex Shkrebelo, a corporate strategy manager at Aeroflot in Moscow, Russia. “It has been very interesting already to see that each person has their own experience, their own problem-solving methods.” Shkrebelo, who is commuting to the program from Russia said that the orientation’s combination of “absolute focus” and fun validated his decision to attend the program.

Students mingled in formal classroom settings as well as in impromptu get-togethers in the evenings. “The obvious benefit of orientation is being able to start classes already knowing most people by their first name,” says Jason Bogroff, principal consultant of Blue Fin Group, a management and consulting technology firm for the healthcare industry based in Long Valley, New Jersey. “Students are already collaborating in Google docs and groups, brainstorming new business ideas and opportunities.”

Orientation attendees also attended to practical considerations: setting up email accounts, finding their way around the campus and the library’s holdings, learning about plagiarism and classroom etiquette. For students who have, for the most part, been out of an academic environment for years, orientation eases the transition from work life to school life.

“Orientation gives you the chance to take care of those academic errands that we would otherwise have to do on our first weekend. Now we can focus on class,” says Chris Bradley, senior manager of government IT projects in the National Intelligence division of General Dynamics Information Technology in Chantilly, Virginia.

Bradley also enjoyed the Emerging Technology Seminar led by Eric K. Clemons, director of Wharton’s Sponsored Research Program in Information Strategy and Economics. The first of a yearlong series of classes typically held on Friday nights, the seminar focused on competitive markets for new technology in a volatile market. “It was an interesting presentation on his current work and on practical applications for IT in business in the future,” Bradley says.

By Thursday night’s group dinner, held in Claudia Cohen Hall. Dr. Jaggard noted that many attendees had had a chance to interact and there was a sense of the class taking shape. “This year we have a 30 percent larger class — an extraordinarily diverse group of students — and when you looked around the room, you could just feel the energy. I meet everyone when we do the interviews for admissions and it’s almost like organizing a great dinner party. You hope that together they’ll be a great mix of people. Seeing everyone together just exceeded my expectations.”

The dinner featured alumni speakers who returned to campus to share their experience with incoming students. Jan Maiden, EMTM ’03, global director of technology and new product innovation at Federal-Mogul Systems Protection Group, attested to the impact EMTM had on her career, including two promotions. “I promise you won’t be disappointed with this program,” she assured incoming students.

For his part, Jason Bogroff found that orientation in and of itself was a memorable experience. “We actually left the orientation on Saturday with a good amount of homework to finish before classes officially started but the whole experience was so inspirational and invigorating, it seemed to end too soon.”

“The obvious benefit of orientation is being able to start classes already knowing most people by their first name. Students are already collaborating in Google docs and groups, brainstorming new business ideas and opportunities.”

Jason Bogroff
Principal Consultant
Blue Fin Group

“I promise you won’t be disappointed with this program.”

Janice R. Maiden, EMTM ‘03
Global Director of Technology and New Product Innovation
Federal-Mogul Systems Protection Group

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