Working professionals and graduate students from around the world come to MIT Professional Education's Advanced Study Program (ASP) to pursue their continuing education goals and dreams. Unlike in degree programs, ASP Fellows have the complete freedom to choose their own courses and design their own course load. This semester, fellows from as far away as China, India, and Italy, and as close as Washington and Boston are taking courses in all five schools of MIT.
ASP Fellows enhance the diversity of the MIT student community with their unique and rich professional backgrounds, experiences, and accomplishments. From boosting their careers to refining their skills before applying to graduate school, ASP Fellows attend this unique, non-degree program at MIT for a variety of reasons.
MIT alumnus Andrew Greene ’91 is currently taking 6.867 (Machine Learning). “I love it,” he says. “I’m learning the theory behind the tools that I’ve been starting to use at work so I’ll be able to apply those tools better.”
Greene hopes to pursue a master’s degree while continuing to work as a senior computer scientist at Adobe. He also holds a patent for Dictionary Compilations, a tool that uses an algorithm for spell-checking in an online, collaborative word processor. Greene has also successfully published crossword puzzles in both the The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Kristyna Smith earned a bachelor of science in engineering degree from Princeton University and is currently working at Draper Labs as an aerospace systems mechanical engineer. She designed a flight management system that expanded collision-avoidance calculations to three dimensions and incorporated multi-agent scenarios, regulatory maneuvering preferences, airspace boundary regulations, and full mission-level capabilities. Smith is taking 16.413 (Principles of Autonomy and Decision Making) this fall.
Ibrahem Salloum, a physician at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital in Rhode Island, is taking physics classes at MIT during the week while he continues his medical career on the weekends. Another student, Chien-Chih (Ernie) Ho — who is originally from Taiwan — is taking computer science classes at MIT. He is passionate about human-computer interaction and has competed in several national and international competitions including Microsoft’s Imagine Cup and The Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Award, where he won second place.
Azan Thatte, who currently works for General Electric, has nine patents pending on a variety of inventions for the aerospace industry. Originally from India, he has already earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering. He is currently taking course 2.675 (Micro/Nano Engineering Laboratory) at MIT.
Sophie Kolberg, originally from Switzerland, came to ASP to study finance and international economics. She is working toward a master’s in quantitative finance from the University of Zurich, which she hopes to complete by February 2017.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to study at MIT,” Kolberg says. “I’m really enjoying my classes, though it is a lot of work. There are so many great classes to choose from — I wish I could stay longer.”
By creating a Facebook page for this fall’s cohort, Kolberg not only helps foster a sense of community, but also creates networking opportunities. Together, the fellows attended a Red Sox game in September. “It was a nice way to get to know everyone,” Kolberg says. “We had a lot of fun even though [the Red Sox] lost.”
Last spring, ASP Fellow Ian Miller was accepted as full-time graduate student in MIT’s chemical engineering program and will continue his work toward a doctorate degree. In addition, ASP Fellow Tim Galligan was accepted as a full-time graduate student in the aeronautics and astronautics program within MIT's School of Engineering.
Describing the value of the ASP program, MIT Professional Education Executive Director Bhaskar Pant says: “We feel so fortunate each semester to host a global group of very accomplished industry professionals and students who come to the ASP program to refuel and expand their knowledge on their terms — in order to return to their employers or advanced degree programs elsewhere and/or at MIT with the ability and confidence to take on new dreams and challenges. In the process of attending regular MIT classes, they also bring invaluable practitioner perspectives to classroom discussions and projects. The ASP program is a gem of MIT that has few equals anywhere in the world!”