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Home (and Work) Schooled Professional

Jordi Conrado’s globally active professional and personal life meshed well with WPI’s Advanced Distance Learning Network MBA program.

By Rachel Faugno

Jordi Conrado ’04 typifies today’s highly mobile professional. Over the past five years he has changed jobs three times, moved twice, and traveled throughout the United States and Europe. What may not be typical, however, is that he completed a top-drawer MBA program at the same time, thanks to WPI’s Advanced Distance Learning Network (ADLN).

“I was looking for a flexible MBA program compatible with my travels,” says Conrado, who enrolled in 1999 while

living in Concord, Mass., and working for a company based in San Jose, Calif. He returned to his native Barcelona in 2001; two years later, he began working in London and spending weekends in Spain. Through it all, he progressed in his courses as smoothly and seamlessly as did students on campus. “One of the best things about the program is that in-class students and ADLN students follow the same program and maintain the same pace,” he says. “This forces ADLN students to keep up and facilitates a free exchange among in-class and ADLN students.”

ADLN offers degree and certificate programs with the same courses, content, and instructors as WPI’s on-campus programs, but with one important difference: students never have to be on campus. They can earn an MBA in the management of technology, an M.S. in fire protection engineering, or an M.S. in civil and environmental engineering; or they can enroll in a number of graduate certificate programs. According to Pamela Shelley, ADLN assistant director, most of the 300 or so students are working professionals and part-time students. “Many people mix and match, taking some classes on campus and others online,” she says. “This flexibility is extremely important for busy professionals.”

The quality of the program is just as important. “There is complete parity between our campus courses and our distance courses,” says Shelley. “For example, students in our distance courses often work in teams on group projects. They share material and negotiate issues just as they do on the job. Many students say that in the workplace they’re constantly interacting on projects with people in other locations. That’s how the global economy is today.”

Distance learning has come a long way since the ADLN MBA program began in 1979. “Ours is the second-oldest distance MBA program in the country,” says Norm Wilkinson, director of graduate management programs. “In the early days we used site-based video conferencing. We would videotape the course and ship it to other sites; the professor would travel to the site a few times a semester. Then the program evolved into an individual videotape format where we’d send tapes to students enrolled in the course. We went completely online in 2000.”

Conrado’s experience gave him the flexibility to earn an advanced degree and the tools for functioning in today’s more globally based work environment. “I have colleagues in Australia and places around Europe,” he says, adding that ADLN’s virtual student team concept of sharing material and negotiating issues has made his virtual work team easy to manage. “Earning my degree through ADLN prepared me to succeed in today’s global workplace.”

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Last modified: Apr 12, 2005, 14:49 EDT
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