Dean's Discourse

Department(s):

The Business School

The Dean’s Discourse

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Dean Jackson

       Dean Jackson

It’s Spring and the pace at WPI is dizzying. Undergraduates are finishing D Term; Graduate Students are finishing their Spring semesters; faculty are busy with end of year papers, projects, and assignments; and staff are welcoming newly accepted students while hosting events for our graduates. It’s a lot, which means that my head is on a swivel trying to manage it all. Honestly, I would not have it any other way. Allow me to share some of the things that have me most excited.

Regarding programs, the Business School will be launching new programs that will keep us in the spotlight. This fall, we are launching our new Bachelor of Science degree in Finance Technology, or FinTech. This is a tremendous deal because few universities have such a program, which is an integration of Finance, Mathematics, Computer Science, Data Science, and Electrical and Computer Engineering all in Global context. Where else but WPI could you have these disciplines come together, representing each WPI School, in such a powerfully interdependent way to teach students how to leverage their financial and technical know-how for impact. For the faculty in the Business School, this new degree is just one more step in the dominating work we have been doing in the Commonwealth and in the world. WPI was already an active member in the Massachusetts FinTech Hub. We are a founding partner of the Worcester Internet of Things and Smart City through FinTech, AI, and Blockchain (IS FAB) Lab, which is playing an integral role in making Worcester a Smart City. This lab utilizes blockchain and machine learning techniques to assist internet of things device-based start-ups and support social good. Moreover, our scholars are world renowned for their research in Blockchain, Supply Chain, and Sustainability, all related competencies in FinTech. And we are hosting the Future Finance and Economics Association Conference, October 19-21, 2023, at WPI. It is all so exciting.

We are also celebrating our new partnership with the Nigerian University of Technology and Management (NUTM). The WPI Business School will be offering our Master of Science degree in Business Analytics alongside the Leadership Certification in Design Thinking from NUTM. What makes this program so exciting is that students will learn from Nigeria as we deliver the program’s courses via synchronously delivered sessions taught at WPI. This is a significant opportunity for the many students who want to come to the US to take advantage of academic programs but cannot afford the travel. We are additionally proud to offer this program in Nigeria where analytics has become a major driver in the industries of financial services, energy, and agriculture. Through this program, businesses will sponsor their employees for reskilling and upskilling, thus making the degree attainable for prospective students. Moreover, students locally can enroll in the courses meaning that we will have a hybrid classroom of both virtual and in-person learners. WPI is enhancing the technology in classrooms to make it possible for faculty to create an inclusive experience for students whether they are in person or remote. We anticipate that this model can be replicated across the continent, enabling us to demonstrate societal impact as we advance STEM leaders in Africa. 

And of course, we are excited for the Undergraduate Research Projects Showcase, formerly known as Project Presentation Day. Twenty-five different projects are being presented by Business School students and each one is fascinating. I hope you will follow the link to read about the different projects. What is exciting to me is that they speak to our distinctiveness as a school situated at the intersection of Business, Technology, and People. From a marketing plan for alternative methods of workplace safety, to development opportunities in Ghana, to process improvements and efforts to enhance economic sustainability for industry partners, our students have accomplished so much. Often, when you think of students doing projects for companies, the companies take the view that they are doing the school a favor by giving students something to do. Not so here. Our students are adding value by helping companies realize a tangible difference in their operations. For example, I had the privilege of hearing the presentation of the team that focused their efforts on reducing defects at Affordable Interior Systems (AIS). The leadership was so impressed by the students’ solutions, some of which have already been implemented on the manufacturing floor. I also had the privilege of advising a project in Ghana where the students developed a composite material made of waste and coconut fibers to be made into roofing. We were able to convene community members from Ghana to hear the presentation and make suggestions for moving the project forward. These are not “one and done” experiences for our students. They are life changing efforts that are making substantive differences in the companies and communities that have sponsored the projects.

I hope after reading this, you are excited too. Yes, it is the busiest time of year on a college campus, but it is also the most gratifying. Our faculty, staff, and students are doing amazing things and I am filled with pride and gratitude to be a part of it. Congratulations to all for another successful year, especially our graduates who will leave here to do amazing things in their professions of choice. We plan on keeping the exciting efforts going. You can be sure of that.

Blessings,

Debora