The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Brandeis GPS to Participate in the RoboBusiness AI Summit

Several Brandeis GPS staff members will be representing the division at next week’s Robotics and AI Summit: Advancing Manufacturing Competitiveness event. Special sessions include a round table on “Creating tomorrow’s Robotics leaders,” featuring Nancy Deangelis, Director of Program Development, and Brian Salerno, Director of Online Learning and Instructional Design. The conversation will focus on topics such as what academia can do to support innovation. Let us know if you’ll be attending! You can follow the Summit on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin and register here.

Brandeis GPS offers fully online, top-tier master’s degrees for professionals in today’s most in-demand fields. The Master of Science in Robotic Software Engineering program aims to help students develop an advanced understanding of robotic engineering concepts as they learn from leading software engineers and roboticists. While benefiting from the flexibility of a part-time fully online program, students also gain hands-on experience through the incorporation of robot kits into the curriculum. All courses are ten weeks long, and students can complete the 30-credit degree in as few as 18 months. Samples of our Robotics courses include Modern C++ and Robotics Frameworks, Design and Architectural Patterns for Robotics, and Robot Sensing and Perception.

If you’re interested in applying to the MS in Robotic Software Engineering, you should submit your application by June 20 for fall 1 admission with courses starting in July. Those interested in the program who do not yet wish to pursue a full master’s degree can still enroll in courses. At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two online courses without officially enrolling. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. Learn more about our MS in Robotic Software Engineering, and preview our Robotic Software Engineering courses here. You can also contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) offers fully online, part-time master’s degrees and professional development courses in today’s most in-demand fields. With four 10-week sessions each year, students can complete their degree in as little as 18 months. Courses are led by industry experts who deliver professional insights and individualized support. Brandeis GPS is dedicated to extending the rigorous academic standards that make Brandeis University one of the top institutions in the country to a diverse population seeking to advance their careers through continuing studies. Brandeis is a medium-sized private research university with a global reach, dedicated to first-rate undergraduate education and the making of groundbreaking discoveries. The university’s 5,700 undergraduate and graduate students are motivated, compassionate, curious, and open to exploring new and challenging experiences. 

Right kind of graduate study can give current biotech staff boost we seek

In their June 4 op-ed, Mayor Marty Walsh and Vertex Pharmaceuticals President, CEO and Chairman Dr. Jeffrey Leiden make a compelling case for strengthening the biotech workforce pipeline in Massachusetts. Establishing strong public-private partnerships with Boston Public Schools is a necessary strategy for developing and retaining young talent for the state’s growing biopharmaceutical sector.

It is equally important, however, that we not overlook alternative pipelines for workforce development. Professional master’s degrees can help research assistants, engineers, lab technicians and other qualified biotech professionals transition into the more advanced bioinformatics positions that Massachusetts relies on to remain competitive.

As we continue prioritizing investments in economic growth and innovation, we must remember that there is more than one educational pathway toward closing the biopharma skills gap. The right type of graduate education can equip professionals who already have a foothold in the industry with the technology and expertise to advance their careers, producing a new wave of talented employees who can take on this complex and incredibly important work.

 

This letter first appeared in the Boston Globe on June 10.

Challenge Accepted: This Student Chose to Ride the Wave to Overcome Tragedy

Enjoying the flexibility of GPS courses, a Brandeis employee balances online graduate school with her other passions.

The ocean waves – their swooshing sound, their sparkle in the distance – are soothing to her eyes and mind. Gazing at the momentum of each wave as they crash against the shore offers a sense of serenity to it. The seemingly endless horizon breeds purity that helps take her away from what life’s struggles might have brought her. And it is with this meditative enjoyment of nature’s raw beauty that she finds complacency in life. As each wave crawls up the shore to makes its mark on the duney sand, it represents an accomplishment that which she is proud of.

Victoria Felson in Maine

Meet Victoria Felson: beachgoer and student at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies (GPS).

Take One.

Victoria has a simplistic mentality that she garnered after an unfortunate tragedy she and her family suffered eight years ago. It was not easy at first to pursue a graduate degree when trying to overcome life-altering, personal distress. Her first attempt at grad school washed up quickly like a small wave that barely makes a ripple in the ocean. The ambition and desire was there, but Victoria’s life still had not quite settled down. She did not give up then though.

With each day there are many more waves to catch and grab hold of, many opportunities to embrace. As some waves reach their crest and dive back into the ocean, they have an almost inviting look. They crash back into the ocean with a sense of hopefulness and gleam the possibility of success. One day, Victoria saw a wave and did not take her eyes off of it. She saw herself diving back in with the wave headfirst, arms overhead, and with a bright smile on her face. It was time to earn her Master’s degree.

Take Two.

After learning from her co-workers that Brandeis GPS offers 100% online degrees, Victoria knew the program was a strong fit. Positive feedback from others already enrolled in the Digital Marketing and Design program reeled her in to take advantage of the free courses as a Brandeis employee. In reviewing other MBA programs, she noticed that they tended to offer only live classes at scheduled times during the week, and most of the student were full-time. Scheduled class times were not an option for Victoria, so the flexible online setting that Brandeis GPS offers has allowed her to balance school with work and her social life. Thanks to the ability to complete her degree as a part-time student as well, Victoria can still frequent Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA and fit schoolwork into her schedule comfortably. Considering a day away at the beach is like a vacation to her, she is not willing to compromise on that one. Victoria is pleased that she been able to further herself while still enjoy her passions in life.

As an older staff member with only an undergraduate degree, Victoria knows she needs to learn and acquire new skills so her background is not outdated. The real perk is that should Victoria decide to take a different path with Brandeis GPS, she still has until the end of her second course to matriculate into a program and still be able to apply the courses. The other beauty of Brandeis GPS is the integration between the programs. Many courses in various programs intersect with each other so Victoria is gaining a diverse skill set that can be applied to her work in a multi-faceted manner.

Life’s Other Pleasures.

Aside from the beach, some of Victoria’s other interests are walking in state parks, doing yoga, going to the pool in her condo complex, and tending to her patio garden filled with perennials. She enjoys being challenged by what perennials bloom in the sun, not requiring much maintenance and showing brilliant colors, just as her classwork challenges her to remain current with her skills and knowledge in the growing digital world. With the courses taught by professionals actively working in their respective fields, Victoria is gaining relevant expertise to apply to her work. As a senior support professional to the Vice President of alumni relations in the Institutional Advancement Division at Brandeis University, she has done some digital marketing in the past and plans to in the future. As she progresses with her courses though, she plans to find a job in marketing to directly apply the learned concepts on a regular basis. Victoria is confident that her Brandeis degree will present herself as a marketable candidate for employers that offer higher paying positions. Maybe she will look to expand her garden at that point, buy a house or merely enjoy the occasional overnight stay near Crane Beach with her boyfriend.

Nature’s beauty truly lures Victoria in to learn more, both in life in general and about herself. She uses nature as a catalyst to reflect and continue onward and upward. And progress she has! In a famous line by Frederick Douglass, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Life is not always quite as sympathetic as one might like to think. Some of us are challenged in ways – mentally and emotionally – that we do not want to be. But it is with these unfortunate circumstances that we are given the opportunity to learn things about ourselves that we might not know were true. Victoria used her tragedy as motivation to press the reset button and embark on the exciting challenge of pursuing her Master’s degree with Brandeis GPS. A flexible class schedule, experienced faculty, and applicable coursework have all given her the balance in life that she has been seeking for some time.

Take Three.

When asked if she would have chosen Brandeis University given the opportunity to start over again, Victoria said, “I’m very satisfied with GPS. If all things were the same, yes, I’d choose the same school.” Victoria is gaining more fulfillment in her life, both professionally and personally, since beginning to take courses with Brandeis GPS. The current of her life is a steady flow nowadays. The horizon is looking brighter and the ocean a bit calmer. Victoria is still gazing at that wave and will continue until she walks across the stage, degree in hand.

Content contributed by  Digital Marketing and Design student Casey Ducinski with permission. 

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

UXPA Boston Student Recap | Part 2

Brandeis GPS was a proud sponsor of the 2018 UXPA Boston annual conference. This week, we’re featuring a two-part series on how the conference was experienced through the eyes of two students in the MS in User-Centered Design. Read Part 1 here.

By Craig Cailler, as told in his own words:

The Boston Chapter of the User Experience Professionals’ Association held their annual conference at the Sheraton Boston Hotel on Thursday, May 10, 2018. I have attended this event for many years and watched it grow from a few hundred people hosted at local university, to over one thousand people attending sessions occupying multiple ball rooms in a large hotel in downtown Boston. This year was something special as the team at UXPA Boston was able to promote an appearance by industry veteran, Rolf Molich, from DialogDesign in Denmark in Europe. President of UXPA Boston, Dan Berlin, posted this to his Twitter account about the occasion, “Rolf Molich presenting CUE-10 results at #UXPABOS18 makes me feel like we’ve finally hit the big time.” It was truly a special moment for the team, and the conference, as they prove again that this has become one of the premier annual events with the industry.

This first session I attended this year was, “CPUX – A Serious (and Usable?) European Attempt at Certifying UX Professionals” presented by Rolf Molich. The International Usability and UX Qualification Board is composed of UX professionals from across Europe that develop and maintain the curricula for the purpose of introducing usability to new practitioners, keeping active practitioners current and establishing common terminology and technologies across the industry. The CPUX offers several levels of certification, covering topics such as Human-centered design process, Definitions, Understanding of context of use, User requirements, Design solutions, Usability tests and Inspections and user surveys. During the session, Rolf “quizzed” the audience with sample questions used in the certification process using an online live polling software. Rolf closed out the session by telling the audience that the team at UXQB were looking for sponsors here in the United States to begin providing this training, so keep your eyes out for future CPUX classes in our area.

I was also introduced to several new tools as part of other presentations. In the session entitled, “Through Their Eyes: Using VR to Simulate Retinal Diseases”, Jessica Holt-Carr and Weiwei Huang walked the audience through the process they used to build empathy for disabled users who suffer with visual impairments by using low vision simulation kits. Jessica and Weiwei explained how they used an Android application called SimViz (In My Eyes – iOS alternative) in conjunction with a hand-made cardboard device that held the mobile device comfortable on participants while blocking out all light sources. Jessica summarized the benefits of this approach as:

  • Identifies accessibility barriers
  • Seeing the world from their view
  • Raises awareness to the issue

In another session entitled, “Digital whiteboarding and other techniques for remote collaboration and ideation”, the team of Kristina Beckley and Ethan Perry from IBM spoke to the audience about a digital whiteboarding tool called “Mural” as part of the presentation. They discussed how they used the tool to collect input from global team members as part of their global design process that includes “Hills, Playbacks and Sponsor Users”. They provided the audience with some best practices based on their use of the tool including…

  • Timebox the process
  • Make sure people are contributing
  • Setup separate rooms, 8-12 people each

UXPA Boston Student Recap | Part 1

Brandeis GPS was a proud sponsor of the 2018 UXPA Boston annual conference. This week, we’re featuring a two-part series on how the conference was experienced through the eyes of two students in the MS in User-Centered Design. Read Part 2 here.

By Roslyn Jones, as told in her own words:

I had a great experience at the UXPA Boston conference. There were so many great professionals and organizations to network with. My most important takeaways derived from the organization networking space, Making Websites Readable discussion and the Mentoring forum.

Within the organization networking space, I was able to connect with multiple companies that were either offering User Experience (UX) job positions or showcasing tools valuable to the UX industry. The pictured MPACT game-like persona builder, which is picture below, is a creatively innovative tool that aids teams in creating persona profiles. The representatives at each table were so pleasant and were eager to speak to each attendee about the services that their businesses provide. Also, it was a pleasure meeting student advisor Daniel Mongeon at the Brandeis GPS table. As I continued to explore the different tables, I stumbled upon the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), an academic, professional, service based engineering organization. It was great connecting with them and speaking with other conference attendees about its purpose.

The Making Websites Readable session provided methods to enhance the readability of a website in a fun and engaging way. They incorporated storytelling, comic strips, and a web-redesign exercise to deliver their 7 Tips for Web Style. The session started off with an animated reading of a Pearls Before Swine comic strip, which was nothing short of entertaining. This led us into analyzing a poorly designed website created specifically for this demonstration. I like how Jen Kramer and Martha Nichols continuously engaged the audience, maintained high energy throughout the presentation and presented takeaways that were short, simple, and useful. Their 7 Tips for Web Style are:

  1. Keep it short
  2. Add snappy headings
  3. Find your focus
  4. Make a list
  5. Get specific
  6. Adjust visuals
  7. Use your words wisely

During the Mentoring Session, I obtained perspectives from two professionals who have years of UX experience. Our mentee group consisted of seven individuals who are new to UX.  Throughout this session we received great tips on how to position ourselves to impress a manager or other UX hiring executive. My key takeaways from this session involved tips for figuring out how to make yourself more marketable in the field. This includes, being able to communicate with industry professionals, understanding and portraying knowledge of the process, showcasing your relative skills, and participating in events that strengthen and highlight these relative skills.

Brandeis GPS congratulates a new cohort of “storytellers” in 2018 commencement ceremony

The Rabb School of Continuing Studies awarded diplomas to 131 Brandeis GPS students at its 2018 commencement ceremony this morning. Approximately half of the graduating class attended the event, which took place on campus from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the Faculty Club.

“Not only have you mastered a rigorous curriculum, most of you have done this while working full-time,” said Karen Muncaster, Vice President of the Rabb School, in her opening address. “Your academic achievements are made even more noteworthy because they were made in the midst of ‘real life.’ I want you to know that the entire University community has great respect for what you have accomplished and how you have done it.”

Commencement speaker Tom Gerace, author and founder/CEO of the content marketing firm Skyword, urged the graduating class to use storytelling to drive change, both professionally and personally.

“You have the opportunity to act differently, to shape how your companies act and what they value, and to make a real difference in the world when you do,” said Gerace. “I hope that when you retire and your grandkids crawl into your lap and ask what you did for a living, instead of telling them that you helped a company make more stuff or sell more stuff, you can tell them a story about how you made the world a better place.”

As GPS master’s degrees are fully online, many of today’s diploma recipients and their families are first-time visitors to the Brandeis campus. Some students traveled from as far as Ontario, Canada, and throughout the U.S., including California, Michigan, Illinois and Georgia.

“The last couple of years have been a very edifying, challenging, rewarding and sometimes exhausting

endeavor,” said Steve Boardman, student speaker and a graduate of the MS in Strategic Analytics program. “Now having completed my program with GPS, it has proven to be a great fit for me as a busy adult with a family and has exceeded my expectations in the value I have gained from its coursework.”

GPS extends an extra congratulations to the inaugural class of graduates from the Digital Marketing and Design and User-Centered Design programs, both of which launched in 2015.

The full breakdown of diplomas awarded this morning is as follows:

  • Master of Software Engineering (13 graduates)
  • MS in Bioinformatics (9 graduates)
  • MS in Digital Marketing and Design (4 graduates)
  • MS in Health and Medical Informatics (17 graduates)
  • MS in Information Security (10)
  • MS in Information Technology Management (15 graduates)
  • MS in Instructional Design & Technology (2 graduates)
  • MS in Project and Program Management (35 graduates)
  • MS in Strategic Analytics (24 graduates)
  • MS in User-Centered Design (3 graduates)

Congratulations to our graduates!

Susan Carman brings decades of expertise, leadership to Health and Medical Informatics

Susan Carman, HMI chairBrandeis GPS is thrilled to announce the hiring of Susan Carman, MS, CHCIO, PMP, as program chair of the online MS in Health and Medical Informatics.

In her role as chair, Susan serves as the subject matter expert for the program, providing the industry insights that keep the program’s curriculum and outcomes current and relevant.

Susan is the Chief Information Officer at UHS Hospitals and has served in the healthcare information technology and informatics industry for a total of 28 years. Prior to her current role, Susan was the VP of Information Technology at Wingate Healthcare, implementing an EMR system and building a HIPAA security plan for their 19 Post Acute Care facilities.

Susan spent 15 years of her career at Medical Information Technology (MEDITECH) implementing Electronic Medical Records throughout the U.S. and Canada. She transitioned to the Healthcare Provider sector in 2004 starting with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and more recently at Hebrew Senior Life, leading her team to complete the implementation of Stage 6 EMR system. Susan is certified as a Healthcare CIO (CHCIO) and Project Manager (PMP) and is an active member of HIMSS (Health Information Management Systems Society) and CHIME (College of Healthcare Information Management Executives). She is also an active participant in the Executive Mentorship Program with ACHE (American College of Healthcare Executives). Susan completed her Master’s degree in Healthcare Informatics at the University of Massachusetts in 2013.

Learn more about the part-time, online Master’s of Science in Health and Medical Informatics here.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Countdown to Commencement 2018

It’s that time of year again! A new set of students from Brandeis University’s division of Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) are preparing to walk across the stage in front of 275 friends and family members and receive the master’s degrees they so diligently worked toward.

GPS is thrilled to see our soon-to-be alums progress to the next phase of their professional development and career advancement. We extend an additional congratulations to the inaugural class of graduates from the Digital Marketing and Design and User-Centered Design programs, both of which launched in 2015.

This year’s commencement ceremony will take place on the Brandeis University campus on May 13, 2018, and will feature the following speakers/honors:

  • Tom Gerace, commencement speaker. Tom is the founder and CEO of Skyword, a Boston-based content marketing firm. An expert in strategic storytelling, Tom recently co-authored the best-selling book Storynomics and leads Storynomics Seminars in cities throughout the world. Early in his career, Tom served as a senior business analyst at the Harvard Business School, where he wrote the first case studies on the emergence of the internet in 1995.
  • Steve Boardman, student speaker. Strategic Analytics graduate Steve Boardman is a senior technology consultant for iDoxSolutions, Inc. Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Steve has more than 25 years of experience implementing, delivering and supporting enterprise IT solutions for a wide variety of industries. He currently focuses on cloud-based application architectures and business intelligence and analytics solutions.
  • Meredith Bazzell, Rabb School Outstanding Teacher Award recipient. An instructor in the Digital Marketing and Design program, Meredith has more than 13 years of marketing experience in healthcare, construction, higher education, retail, manufacturing, and technology. Meredith currently serves as the manager of customer experience for global communications at Asurion in Nashville, Tennessee.

We look forward to sharing more commencement-related updates as the day gets closer. Follow along with us here on the blog and at #GPSclassof2018.

 

From student to commencement speaker to alumna

In 2015, Brandeis GPS profiled Kara Wasnewsky (Noonan), a now alumna of our Instructional Design and Technology master’s program. We spoke with Kara again in 2017 as she was getting ready to give her commencement speech last May. Now, almost a year later, we sat down with Kara and talked about her accomplishments and current job as an Instructional Designer at Regis College in Weston, MA.

In her role, she works one-on-one with faculty to design online and hybrid courses as well as offer guidance on integrating technology into the classroom. She also facilitates professional development workshops around instructional design and technology.

Read on for Kara’s thoughts on her journey to instructional design in her own words.


On her journey to instructional design:

Instructional design didn’t hit my radar until I started working for Pearson, an educational publisher. My role at the time was to project manage the development of media for their large courseware products, but what I really wanted to do was design them. Design strategy came from the instructional designers, so I set my sights on becoming an instructional designer. 

As I finished my coursework in instructional design, I started considering opportunities outside of my current company and decided that I would like most to work directly with higher education faculty to design courses.

On what she finds particularly rewarding about working as an instructional designer in higher ed:

I have worked with a couple of faculty who were nervous about teaching online when they first came to work with me. Many of them did not believe that online courses could be as effective as the face-to-face courses they have been teaching. It is so rewarding to see these faculty start to get excited about their online courses and what they can do in the learning management system.

On the impact her Brandeis GPS degree made on her career:

What I learned in Brandeis’ Instructional Design and Technology program was immediately transferable to my role as an Instructional Designer. In the program, I learned the process of designing effective instruction, which is the same process I have the faculty implement for their courses. 

Most importantly, I learned what the role of an instructional designer is and can be, which has been integral to my success. On my first day, it was expected that I knew the role and what I needed to do, and it is up to me to provide the strategy for moving instructional design at Regis forward.

On advice to those considering a career in instructional design: 

To be successful in a role like mine you do need to be knowledgeable about instructional design and the common technologies used for instruction in a higher education setting. My advice for anyone considering instructional design is for them to pursue it. It is a challenging profession, but it is a lot of fun. There are a lot of exciting things happening in this field, especially in higher education.


It’s been great to talk with Kara over the years and see her evolve from student to commencement speaker to an accomplished instructional designer.

To learn more about the part-time, online MS in Instructional Design and Technology, contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) offers fully online, part-time master’s degrees and professional development courses in today’s most in-demand fields. With four 10-week sessions each year, students can complete their degree in as little as 18 months. Courses are led by industry experts who deliver professional insights and individualized support. Brandeis GPS is dedicated to extending the rigorous academic standards that make Brandeis University one of the top institutions in the country to a diverse population seeking to advance their careers through continuing studies. Brandeis is a medium-sized private research university with a global reach, dedicated to first-rate undergraduate education and the making of groundbreaking discoveries. The university’s 5,700 undergraduate and graduate students are motivated, compassionate, curious, and open to exploring new and challenging experiences. 

Brandeis to offer Master of Science in Robotic Software Engineering

We are excited to officially announce the launch of a new GPS master’s degree: Robotic Software Engineering. Like all other GPS programs, the Master of Science degree is fully online and designed in conjunction with experts in the field.

This program addresses the growing demand for software engineers who have experience with the technologies used to power autonomous robots.

“Essentially every global industry will feel the impact of autonomous robots and the software that drives them,” said Krishna Gopalakrishnan, Brandeis GPS program development chair and senior software engineer at Amazon Robotics. “Software engineers who want to remain competitive in their fields will need to keep up with the specific set of skills and technologies that relate to robotics.”

Learn more here.

If you’re interested in applying to the MS in Robotic Software Engineering, you  should submit your application by June 20 for fall admission. Those interested in the program who do not yet wish to pursue a full master’s degree can still participate. At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two online courses without officially enrolling. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. Learn more about our MS in Robotic Software Engineering, and preview our Robotic Software Engineering courses here.

Questions? Contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) offers fully online, part-time master’s degrees and professional development courses in today’s most in-demand fields. With four 10-week sessions each year, students can complete their degree in as little as 18 months. Courses are led by industry experts who deliver professional insights and individualized support. Brandeis GPS is dedicated to extending the rigorous academic standards that make Brandeis University one of the top institutions in the country to a diverse population seeking to advance their careers through continuing studies. Brandeis is a medium-sized private research university with a global reach, dedicated to first-rate undergraduate education and the making of groundbreaking discoveries. The university’s 5,700 undergraduate and graduate students are motivated, compassionate, curious, and open to exploring new and challenging experiences. 

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