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Clarkson University Trustee & Provost Review Department of Defense Grad Programs on National Committee

Clarkson University Trustee Thomas J. Burns and Clarkson Provost Chuck Thorpe recently served on a National Research Council committee, which reviewed STEM -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- and management graduate study programs in the Department of Defense (DoD).

Thomas J. BurnsBurns, president and chief executive officer of ENSCO Inc., served as vice chair of the "Committee on Review of Specialized Degree-Granting Graduate Programs of the DoD in STEM and Management," which reviewed programs in the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) and the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) to evaluate their worth.

The report, released on June 30, reviews the DoD's need for civilian and military personnel with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and management, and evaluates the ability of DoD educational institutions compared with private institutions or distance learning programs to meet those needs.

"The study was directed in a law passed by Congress, which is interested in assessing and enhancing the return on DoD’s investment in graduate STEM and management education,” said Burns. “The study committee concluded the DoD should find ways to take advantage of the complementary strengths offered by DoD-funded institutions, such as AFIT and NPS, and civilian institutions, such as Clarkson. Clarkson’s innovative distance learning strategy offers a foundational model the DoD could build on to leverage the combined strengths of DoD and civilian programs.”

The priority recommendation of the committee was that DoD leadership should "encourage all graduate education programs to include technical and technical management-oriented components, in order to send a strong signal of STEM+M’s importance to the workforce and increase the STEM+M literacy of DoD decision makers."

Chuck Thorpe"Among other points, our panel found that the military is becoming more and more technical, which brings with it the need for increasing education in STEM, management, and, particularly, the management of STEM projects," said Thorpe. "AFIT and NPS are part of the solution, along with civilian institutions. I found a lot that reminded me of the way we do things at Clarkson in our Engineering & Management program, which has integrated STEM and management for more than 50 years.

"One of the interesting challenges of military graduate education is that the uniformed officers rotate between operational posts, where they may be in an engineering job for one cycle, and in combat duty for the next. AFIT and NPS pay special attention to recurrent training and reintroducing their officers to academic life. Of course, the systematic thinking taught in engineering is applicable to being a commanding officer as well as to designing new mechanisms. We see this in our own Clarkson graduates: although most of our alumni are trained as engineers, we have an unusually high percentage that go on to be C-level officers."

The report’s principal findings and recommendations aligned with six major themes, listed here in order of priority:

- Strengthen the STEM+M competencies of DoD’s total workforce by placing greater emphasis on graduate STEM+M education.

- Maintain a balanced portfolio of STEM+M graduate education sources consisting of DoD and civilian institutions.

- Expand and adequately resource civilian workforce STEM+M graduate education initiatives.

- Recognize and support the importance of STEM+M research at AFIT and NPS.

- Enhance AFIT and NPS graduate education outcomes by increasing institutional collaboration through partnerships and effective distance learning methods.

- Elevate AFIT’s strategic priority.

The report and all of its findings can be found in their entirety at .

As the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, the National Research Council's mission is to improve government decision making and public policy, increase public understanding, and promote the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge in matters involving science, engineering, technology, and health.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

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