Gordon Institute creates master’s program in innovation and management

The Tufts School of Engineering will be providing a new Master of Science degree in Innovation and Management from its Gordon Institute — a branch of the School of Engineering specializing in engineering leadership — beginning next September.

According to Gordon Institute Executive Director and Associate Dean Mark Ranalli, the one-year masters program will aim to help engineering students who have mostly technical experience to gain business and leadership skills for their careers.

“[The degree is] a career bootcamp to get more done in whatever career choice they make,” he said.

The Gordon Institute created the master’s program to supplement the undergraduate education of students in science and engineering disciplines that don’t have skills outside their core technical field, according to Jianmin Qu, dean of the School of Engineering.

“Undergraduates with degrees in science or engineering have a strong foundation of technical expertise, but most lack the business skills and leadership qualities they need for early career impact and long-term success in the innovation economy,” Qu said in an Oct. 26 press release. “To stay competitive, companies need leaders who can drive technology-enabled innovation, and our new M.S. in innovation and management addresses this need.”

According to Ranalli, required classes for the degree include marketing, leadership, finance, project management, innovation and statistics. Students will also have the opportunity to customize the degree by taking classes in specific areas such as entrepreneurship, operations management or extensive technical work.

“A lot of young graduates today are entering the workforce without some of the critical leadership and management skills they learn later in life,” Ranalli said. “As a result they’re not given as much leadership or responsibility as they’d like. [The degree] will allow them to hit the ground running early in the career and I believe that it will give them countless dividends as their career progresses.”

According to the Gordon Institute‘s website, the degree will allow students to choose a specialty track in entrepreneurship, operations management or a technical discipline. It will also provide a cohort-based first semester centered on new product development, a summer-long Capstone Leadership Project, career workshops with industry leaders and coursework that focuses on leadership in technology industries.

Although the degree will not begin until 2016, Ranalli said that there has already been “very favorable interest” in the program.

“We certainly thought this would be appealing in the [School of Engineering]. We defined it as being [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] STEM, but there’s been a lot of interest expressed [from students in] the School of Arts and Sciences,” he said. “We’ve had international students express interest, and Lee Coffin is working to advertise this across the country.”

Interested students include senior Chris Shultz, who is currently double majoring in engineering psychology and biomedical engineering. Shultz said that his interest in the Innovation and Management degree is related to his interest in the entrepreneurial aspect of engineering and his desire to start his own company.

“I’ve always been interested in business, and unfortunately Tufts doesn’t have a specific business program or degree,” Shultz said. “After taking…engineering management classes, I decided it’s a field I want to pursue … [Learning] the business side of things could be pretty valuable in the workplace. [The master’s] just gives me a few more tools in my belt before I start working.”

Ranalli said that beyond helping graduates work well, the new master’s degree would help students become well-rounded workers.

“We’re not looking to build investment bankers,” he said. “We’re looking to build the next generation of leaders.”