WORCESTER, Mass.– November 10, 2008 – The National Professional Science Master’s Association (NPSMA) will name four corporate executives, three university presidents, and four educational leaders to its inaugural national advisory board when it convenes its first national conference in Atlanta on Wednesday and Thursday. The organization, headquartered at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), was established in 2007 with a $500,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to promote and support professional master's degree programs at universities across the nation and to encourage the continued expansion of such programs.
Professional science master’s degrees are designed for students in the sciences who plan to work in professional positions in industry, rather than in academia. A total of 126 programs are offered by 62 colleges and universities (WPI offers two, in financial and industrial mathematics). The programs, which combine rigorous graduate study in science or mathematics with the development of business skills (including written and verbal communication, leadership, and team building), prepare students for science and technology careers in business, government, and nonprofit organizations. The programs are typically developed in close collaboration with industry, which sees the PSM degree as an important way to increase America’s competiveness in the global marketplace.
The National Research Council, in a 2008 report titled “Science Professionals: Master’s Education for a Competitive World,” concluded that the master’s trained segment of the science workforce is critical to America’s continued innovation and competitive success, and strongly endorsed programs, including PSMs, that are interdisciplinary, emphasize communication and problem solving, and prepare students to innovate, adapt to change, and lead. The report also endorsed the efforts of the NPSMA to work with leaders in business and academia to promote and expand PSM programs nationwide.
Inaugural members of the NPSMA national advisory board:
- John Baldoni, senior vice president, preclinical development, Glaxo-Smith-Kline
- Dennis Berkey, president and CEO, WPI
- William Fitzgerald, vice president, global operations, GE Aviation
- Paul Gaffney, president, Monmouth University
- Pam Gao, senior vice president, Putnam Investments
- Carol Lynch, senior scholar in residence, Council of Graduate Schools
- Edward Ray, president, Oregon State University
- Susan Sloan, director, Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable, National Academies
- William Pulleyblank, vice president, IBM Business Consulting Services
- Michael Teitelbaum, vice president, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
- Sheila Tobias, author and consultant and NPSMA academic liaison
The NPSMA inaugural national conference, which will take place at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center in Atlanta, will bring together representatives from colleges and universities that host PSM programs and government and philanthropic agencies for two days of workshops, networking and sharing of best practices. Bogdan Vernescu, professor and head of WPI's Mathematical Sciences Department and inaugural NPMSA president, will deliver the opening address on the state of the organization.
A two-part keynote session, led by Cindy Larkin, president of Horizon Leadership Inc., will introduce attendees to the Change Acceleration Process, which is used by businesses to help employees embrace and process change and innovation. John Bailey, research scientist at IBM’s Almaden Research Center, will deliver a plenary session titled “T-Shaped Scientists.” Like graduates of PSM programs, T-shaped scientists have deep knowledge of their scientific or technology specialty, broad-based business and communication skills, and an understanding of entrepreneurship. One key conference session will focus on how PSM programs can meet the needs of returning military personnel under the new GI Bill, which will take effect next year.