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Distance learning program adopted by Navy

The Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA will offer a master's of science degree in product development under MIT's distance learning program for Product Development Leadership for the 21st Century (PD21), the Navy announced recently.

The program is targeted at full-time professionals working in Navy and Marine Corps organizations responsible for the development and acquisition of major defense systems.

The Navy becomes MIT's third partner to offer the graduate degree, developed at MIT jointly between the School of Engineering and Sloan School of Management. The goal is to produce a core group of professionals skilled in engineering and management to bring about dramatic improvements in the way American organizations and corporations develop and build new systems and products.

Because the demand for this curriculum greatly exceeded MIT's capacity to accommodate all applicants, MIT established a multi-university consortium to replicate the educational program at a number of other universities with the help of several corporations.

The initial partner universities with MIT were the Rochester Institute of Technology (with Eastman Kodak Co. of Rochester, NY and Xerox of Stamford, CT as their primary partners) and the University of Detroit Mercy (with Ford Motor Co. of Dearborn, MI as its partner and input from General Motors Corp. of Detroit and Chrysler Corp. of Auburn Hills, MI).

"The Navy is proud to join this another example of the long-standing cooperation between the Navy and MIT in numerous research and educational endeavors," the Navy said in a statement.

In a letter to President Charles Vest, Undersecretary of the Navy Jerry Hultin wrote: "PD21 is aligned with our efforts to transform the Navy and Marine Corps acquisition and procurement process. This initiative fits nicely with our broader campaign entitled Revolution in Business Affairs (RBA), a strategic change initiative aimed at dramatically improving the way we acquire, deliver, maintain, deploy and operate the business side of our national defense institution.

"I fully expect that graduates of the PD21 curriculum will become leaders and change agents in our RBA, and will apply their new knowledge to significantly increase the quality of our products and reduce acquisition life cycles. This initiative is a great example of interuniversity collaboration, and cross-industry and government cooperation and has the potential to make a significant contribution to our nation's economic competitiveness and national security."

The Navy's PD21 curriculum will convene its first class in September. It will be conducted entirely through the use of distance learning technology at several military installations across the country. The program will take two years to complete including all classwork and the completion of a thesis.

The program expanded from MIT with the help of a $600,000 National Science Foundation grant, announced last May.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 7, 2000.

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