Alumni explain what makes the Accelerated Master’s Program so powerful

The University of Virginia’s Accelerated Master’s Program in Systems Engineering is kicking off its 21st recruiting season, entering its third decade of helping working professionals earn a career-boosting graduate engineering degree.

The Accelerated Master’s Program in Systems Engineering is housed in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment at the UVA School of Engineering. The program is one of several paths to a graduate degree or professional development offered by the department and UVA Engineering for those already in the workforce, including programs administered by Virginia Engineering Online and the Center for Transportation Studies at UVA. Whether workers are seeking an advanced degree or enhanced training, they can gain new knowledge and move up the professional ladder — all while benefiting their employers and communities through improved performance.

The Accelerated Master’s Program is rolling out a new video series as this year’s recruiting efforts get underway.Since 1999, 548 people have graduated from the program.

UVA Accelerated Master’s Program in Systems Engineering

Students and alumni share their experiences and discuss the benefits of UVA Engineering’s one-year master’s in systems engineering program for working professionals.

“We have great success stories to tell,” said program manager Elizabeth Harrison. “We felt this would be a nice medium to get the word out about the Accelerated Master’s Program in Systems Engineering and to allow our graduates to express what it has meant to them.”

The feature video showcases the program’s distinctive learning approach and benefits by highlighting students’ experiences in their own words.

“I know that they’ve gone through trial by fire, I know the skillset that they have,” Nathaniel Horner, a 2011 Accelerated Master’s Program graduate featured in the video, said of his fellow alumni. “I trust that they can tackle and solve difficult problems, and it makes them more appealing as a job candidate.”

Three shorter, stand-alone segments focus on the program’s key features: the exceptional value of the cohort learning model; the power of the program’s alumni network; and how the companies or organizations that the program’s alumni work for also benefit from their employees’ participation.

“The videos capture what the Accelerated Master’s Program is truly about,” said William T. Scherer, director of the program and a systems engineering professor. “We provide a rigorous engineering curriculum that teaches students to solve large-scale, complex problems using the methods and tools of systems engineering — and in real time, because participants apply their classroom learning in their jobs while they complete the program.”

‘Trained to Make Excellent Decisions’

“At the same time, students are learning the management side of engineering from UVA’s Darden School of Business professors, who complement our UVA Engineering faculty,” Scherer said. “We’re graduating leaders who are technically competent and trained to make excellent decisions in the real world.”

The program’s one-year curriculum is designed for working technical professionals and managers across a wide range of industries. While it focuses on a systems engineering approach to problem-solving, candidates don’t need a bachelor’s in engineering to succeed.

Classes meet at UVA’s Darden School every other weekend and for one full week to begin and end the year. Each year’s cohort is a diverse and talented group of people who come together in an intense learning and living environment that reinforces knowledge while students form invaluable professional networks and personal bonds.

“We want as many people as possible to see the new videos,” Scherer said. “This is an important program that contributes to the mission of the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment and the School by preparing engineering leaders who make a difference for their employers, their communities and beyond. We’re proud of that and we want people to know about it.”