October 31, 2000

Cornell, Lockheed to Pioneer Grad Education

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Starting this semester, the College of Engineering will cooperate with Lockheed Martin, a company that provides advanced-technology products and services, to pioneer the concept of Cornell University graduate education for full-time employees.

The project is part of Lockheed Martin’s Engineering Leadership Development Program (ELDP), which helps its employees throughout the country enroll at local colleges. It benefits student-employees by exposing them to the different aspects of their work projects, in addition to teaching them technical skills, according to student-employee Catherine Reeser grad.

“I want my career to be more than sitting at a computer burping out template documents,” Reeser said. “This program exposes us to all facets of a project … I can see the value behind the paper generation and find a better way of accomplishing the same objectives.”

Twelve employees from Lockheed Martin’s Owego division will take classes from both Cornell faculty and company experts. Cornell faculty supervise the company experts, according to Michael Keefe, ELDP program manager at Lockheed Martin’s Owego division.

The student-employees will earn a Cornell Master of Engineering degree in systems engineering in three years.

“This program is the first of its kind [at Cornell], where the master’s degree program is stretched out from one year to three years,” said Michael Hayes, director of the College of Engineering’s Research, Graduate Studies and Professional Education.

Lockheed Martin pays the tuition for the student-employees, who, in addition to taking nine-credit semesters, still work as full-time engineers and scientists, Keefe said.

The student-employees, none of whom are Cornell graduates, are all entry-level professionals who have worked for Lockheed Martin for less than three years.

In order to participate in ELDP, the employees had to undergo two separate admissions processes. First, Lockheed Martin evaluated all interested employees who had worked for the company for less than three years, according to Keefe.

The 12 qualifying applicants were then accepted into the engineering graduate program through the regular admissions process. The number of student-employees is expected to increase to 20 after two years.

“We’re hoping this will last at least for the next three years,” Hayes said. “We’re going to evaluate it after that to see if the program is advantageous for both sides, like we would for any other program.”

The student-employees add to the collective experience of the Cornell community, Hayes noted.

“These are the best and brightest of Lockheed Martin’s recent hires,” Hayes said. “They bring work experience as well as experience from other schools to Cornell.”

Lockheed Martin and its employees are also enthusiastic about the program’s benefits.

“We wanted to pursue an academic program that is germane to all areas in Owego” Keefe said. “And systems engineering is critically important to everything we do here.”

“I was thrilled that the ELDP linked up with Cornell,” Reeser said. “It’s motivating to know that the work I’m putting into classes is going towards a degree at one of the best universities in the country.”

Archived article by Peter Lin