WPI's School of Industrial Management Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

Worcester, Mass. -- It was a grand 50th anniversary celebration of WPI's School of Industrial Management (SIM). More than 400 graduates of the WPI school, their spouses, guests and WPI faculty attended a reception and dinner at the Worcester Centrum Convention Center on March 2 to reminisce and celebrate the accomplishments of the school established as a partnership between education and industry back in 1949. Since then more than 1,400 middle managers and future leaders representing nearly 170 companies from Central Massachusetts have graduated from the program.

On hand for the gala was one of the founders, Professor Emeritus Albert J. Schwieger, who at the age of 93, has lost none of the vitality he possessed while heading the program from 1949 to 1972. The president of the SIM Student Council, Donald P. Pierson, noted that AFifty years ago, the manufacturing community of central Massachusetts issued a challenge to the academic community to provide a program to train their future leaders. WPI answered that challenge.

The event also marked the retirement of Schwieger's successor, Nicholas Onorato, who stepped down after 27 years as the SIM director and 44 years with WPI. WPI President Edward Alton Parrish and Provost John F. Carney III noted that Onorato's retirement and the milestone anniversary was the end of an era. They also said that since its beginning, SIM has been a leader in providing opportunities for lifelong learning and its curriculum has evolved and expanded to keep pace with changes in the area=s industrial base. ASIM has the history and the expertise to educate the working professionals who will lead us into the next century, they said.

The incoming director of the program, John Minasian, took the occasion to look to the future of the program. "The future of SIM offers many opportunities for expansion and growth," he said. "We need to revitalize our many existing business partnerships and reeducate our partners on the benefits of our program."

"Our goal is to double the size of the entering freshman class within two years," Minasian said. "Also, we want to expand our existing programs to serve more geographic locations near manufacturing and service sector providers."

"Additional courses will be added to the proven base of SIM's core curriculum (finance, human resources, accounting, and planning) to support the needs of key growth industries," Minasian said. Other areas such as information technology, healthcare, biotechnology, banking and insurance will also be part of the program. Within a year-and-a-half we will introduce a new set of programs, building on our SIM core that specializes in information technology and information systems.

Minasian also mentioned two planning initiatives that are in the "preliminary stages" in response to students' and graduates' requests for continuing learning opportunities. These include:

  • Method of obtaining credit for SIM course work utilizing standardized testing mechanisms
  • Offering an executive doctorate in management augmenting the basic SIM program.

"SIM's past is exceptional. Its present unparalleled and its future assured and exciting," Minasian concluded. "We can build on the program=s many years of success and take it to new levels of excellence in executive education. Additional programs and the potential for a link with degree programs will enhance our already strong curriculum and pave the path for lifelong learning."