The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Tag: Brandeis University (page 1 of 4)

Faces of GPS: Kevan Kivlan

Meet Kevan Kivlan, MS, who serves as a Director for the US General Services Administration in New England. Kevan is responsible for the overall regional stakeholder program management where he oversees a team who provides program, project and acquisition advice to federal, state and local governments. In 2010, Kevan received an M.S. in Project and Program Management from Brandeis University after completing his undergraduate studies at Assumption College in Worcester, MA in 2002.

Kevan transformed his role from Brandeis GPS student to Brandeis GPS instructor in 2017, and now teaches RPJM 115: Challenges in Project Management alongside his professional career. In the following Q&A, he discusses what led to this transition, what has come of it, and how this shift in roles has impacted both his educational and professional spheres.

Q: Where are you from and where do you currently live?

A: I live in Gloucester, MA with my wife and our 2 children. For those unfamiliar with Gloucester, it is a coastal city on the north shore of Massachusetts. Historically Gloucester is known as a fishing community, it’s beautiful beaches, and it’s arts. We love living in Gloucester because of its island feel and our many friends. I originally grew up in Chelmsford, MA where I attended Chelmsford Public Schools.

Q: Tell us what led you to enroll in Brandeis GPS as a student.

A: I had been researching a master’s degree program with flexibility and local to Boston. During this time, a friend of mine, who I worked with at the time, told me about the Brandeis Program and Project Management degree program. I researched it, took a couple of sample classes and decided it was the right program for me.

Q: What did you enjoy the most about your student experience?

A: The student experience at Brandeis was great. I really enjoyed being surrounded by early, mid, and later career classmates who brought such a wide variety experience from different industries and backgrounds. This contributed to a diverse and rich learning environment. I graduated in 2010 and was happy to experience this same experience again in 2017 when I started teaching at GPS.

Q: Why did you want to become an instructor for GPS?

A: I taught high school early on in my career and loved it, but had never considered becoming an instructor until Leanne Bateman invited me to apply in 2010. At the time, I actually passed on the opportunity because my wife was just about to have our first child, [but] I didn’t stop thinking about potentially teaching down the road. So in 2015, I reached out to GPS to see if the invitation was still there, I interviewed and was fortunate enough to be chosen for the position.

Q: What is your favorite thing about teaching?

A: The communication between students and our classroom exchanges. The students at GPS are extraordinary. They are diligent, intelligent and the professional experiences they share to enrich the learning environment.  The participation element of the GPS courses is definitely a highlight and reinforces the subject matter with real-life questions and content.

Q: Do you feel that teaching for GPS has continued to support your own professional development?

A: Of course, teaching challenges me to stay relevant in my expertise, experience, and knowledge of the subject matter. It also inspires me to write and organize my thoughts on course subject areas.

Q: How does what you’ve learned at GPS and what you’ve learned throughout your career inform what you teach your students?

A: Having been a student in GPS helps because I can always ask the question, what would Kevan the student have done? This serves as sort of a benchmark for the level of effort and quality when I am considering a student’s performance. Now, I am not saying I was the perfect student, but I know I put a ton of work into each course I took, so I have that to measure against. And obviously, I follow the course rubric, but it helps to have the experience of being a GPS student. Additionally, being a GPS alum helps because I experienced great instructors like, Anne Marando, Leanne Bateman, and Laurie Lesser, and know what a really great classroom environment looks like based on their example.

In terms of my career, I would like to think I bring a seasoned perspective with plenty applicable experiences from the many professional positions I have performed. I try to weave those experiences into the classroom discussions and course announcements as much as possible to expand on the subject area and ask questions that are relevant to the students.

Q: Was there anything in particular about your student experience that shaped your approach to teaching?

A: This is a tough question because I had so many great instructors. Rather than a specific encounter, conversation or assignment, I think I would say it’s just a general characterization of my experience in words. The 3 words that describe my experience are fairness, flexibility, and responsiveness. In terms of the classroom experience being a challenging master’s level course, this goes without saying, so I think these are the characteristics I strive to deliver to the GPS students who attend my class.

Q: Having worked in program management for several different levels and branches of government, how do you apply what you’ve learned to such a diverse range of projects?

A: One of the things about Government is there are always many stakeholders with a wide variety of objectives. One of the main things Brandeis taught me was a systematic, yet flexible, method of planning and executing strategies to meet stakeholder expectations. Most importantly, GPS emphasized this is through building relationships, including stakeholders in the process, and making sure they know what to expect in terms of communication.

Q: What are some noteworthy projects you’ve managed?

A: I have managed lots and been involved in lots of projects. The last project I consulted on, outside of my normal job, was a Light Art Festival in Downtown Crossing called, ILLUMINUS. I helped the LuminArtz and ILLUMINUS team kick things off, organize a project charter and begin their planning. In this same vein, in my free time, I am also currently helping LuminArtz collaborate on their next light art project with a local museum.  Unfortunately, I can’t talk about it too much yet.

   

Q: How do you try to inspire the same interest you have for project and program management in your students?

A: By sharing my experience and encouraging to look at their everyday experience as relevant to their coursework and learning.

Q: What kinds of skills does your course equip your students with?  

A: The course I teach right now is called Challenges in Project Management. We explore a ton of current topics and challenges in the subject area. The one thing I try to emphasize to my students is to see beyond the challenges presented and visualize the potential opportunities that are possible because of the circumstances. I guess I try to help students see the positive in the challenges presented, not to sugar coat things or avoid facing the negative, but to instill the idea in business every experience is something we can learn from to improve on, build on, and capitalize on in the future.

Q: What do you like to do outside of work/school?

A: Spending time with and enjoying my family. Going out to dinner with my wife. Enjoying the beach in the summer, especially after work. Visiting as many playgrounds as possible with my children. Eating coffee ice cream with chocolate sprinkles, and finding TV shows I can binge watch (right now we’re watching The Good Place). My other like is grocery shopping, which I think is something from when I was a child and my memories of grocery shopping with my mother.

Q: Anything else you’d like to tell us?

A: I am always open to chatting about ideas, questions, experiences, so reach out to me via LinkedIn. Hope to see you in the classroom.  And in case you’ve been wondering, it’s Kevin with an A.

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Meet your enrollment advisor

If you’ve ever reached out to learn more about a course or program at Brandeis GPS, you’ve most likely had a conversation with Christie Barone.

As GPS’s senior enrollment coordinator, Christie works diligently with prospective students to help them decide if online learning at GPS is the right fit for them. She also advises students who have taken GPS professional development courses.

From a relatively young age, Christie knew that she wanted to work with people in a way that would allow her to have a real impact on their lives. Christie grew up in the culturally and economically diverse Framingham, Mass. – formerly the country’s largest town and now a recently-minted “city.” When Christie was in high school and her mom went back to work, Christie received an unexpected opportunity to gain a more nuanced understanding of what it means to be a strong professional woman in a so-called “man’s world.”

Later, while working in Spain as an English teacher with high school students, Christie tapped into and deepened her capacity for patience and empathy as she helped her students learn a new language. She recalls her time working and traveling with her students very fondly, and holds on to the important lessons she learned as their teacher.

Today, Christie relies on these experiences for her work with prospective and non-matriculated students, and has found that sometimes a student just needs to hear someone say: I understand – it’s not always easy…Let’s talk about some possible solutions. Christie finds great joy and satisfaction in seeing a student who was so uncertain about their ability to get their master’s go from enrolling in a single course (just to “test the waters”) to taking that leap and enrolling in a graduate program.

Those who work with Christie know that she is dedicated, compassionate and hardworking. She deeply values her relationships with the students and prospects she advises and seeks to empower others to pursue their dreams.

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.

 

 

The Top 5 Robotics Trends You’ll See in 2018

Robotics technology has proven to evolve at a rapid pace. In 2015, Uber began testing the first of its self-driving cars, and in 2016 it launched 16 self-driving SUVs in San Francisco. With the innovations of today providing just a small glimpse into future advancements, the robotics industry eagerly has its sight set on 2018. As we roll into the new year, we’ve got our eye on five particular trends that we think could characterize the next robotics wave.

  1. Talent demand & salary hikes for specialized workers – According to data released by research firm International Data Corp’s (IDC) Manufacturing Insights Worldwide Commercial Robotics program, b the year 2020, 35 percent of robotics field jobs will be unfilled as the demand for talent increases, while median salaries in these positions will increase by 60 percent.
  2. Growth in robot-as-a-service (RaaS) – Innova Research predicts that within the next two years, people should expect to see more commercial, service-based robots integrated into a variety of global industries. These specific robots will function as “pay-as-you-go” workers, “according to the service type and the time taken by the service.” By 2020, this model will make up 30 percent of the global robotics market.
  3. Governments will intervene in robotics growth with regulations – With robots potentially displacing humans in certain positions, government action will explore unions, rules, and incentivizing companies to maintain human employees while incorporating robots into their workforce.
  4. More collaborative robots – In less than a year from now, research suggests that 30 percent of all newly produced robots will be collaborative robots. These robots function in tandem with human workers, and by next year, will work three times more efficiently than the same robots of today.
  5. Increase in software-based robots – More and more robots are programmed using cloud-based software that can be shared with and distributed to a diverse range of robots. Robots will depend on software engineers to provide the cloud with information they need to function, like certain cognitive capabilities and skills.

For software engineers seeking to develop an advanced set of robotics technology skills, Brandeis GPS will now offer courses in robotic software engineering in 2018. Learn more.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to developing innovative courses and programs for working professionals. GPS offers 11 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and one online graduate certificate. With four 10-week session each year, Brandeis GPS provides exceptional programs with a convenient and flexible online approach. Courses are small by design and led by industry experts who deliver individualized support and professional insights. For more information on our programs visit the Brandeis GPS website.

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Brandeis GPS programs recognized for high quality education, affordability

Education research publisher, SR Education Group, recently unveiled their latest rankings for top online colleges and universities, and Brandeis GPS received high rankings for its Project and Program Management, Software Engineering, and Strategic Analytics master’s degrees.

The rankings are based on the value that prospective students look for in an online graduate program. Against other online schools, SR Education Group found that Brandeis GPS offers the highest academic standards for the lowest tuition rates with its Master’s of Science in Project and Program Management. The full list of GPS rankings is:

GPS is currently accepting applications for spring 2018.  Course enrollment for all programs begins on December 27, and classes begin on January 17.  Learn more about our courses and programs below.

Project & Program Management:

Strategic Analytics:

Software Engineering:

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FinTech is changing your life, and you don’t even know it

By Ashley Nagle Eknaian

Don’t believe me? Answer the following questions:

  1. Do you have any cash in your wallet right now?
  2. Have you ever bought something using your mobile phone?
  3. Have you been inside a bank branch in the last 6 months?

Now, let’s travel back in time to the year 2007; would your answers still be the same? Probably not. My point here is that 10 years ago, your experiences carrying, spending, saving, transferring, investing, and borrowing money were very different than they are today. In 2017, I am willing to bet that you use some sort of fintech app for your everyday financial needs. Using your mobile wallet to pay for coffee/tea in the morning? Repaying a friend for lunch using Venmo? Donating to a crowdfunding campaign? Checking your bank balance? Buying insurance? Refinancing your student loans? Considering a Robo-advisor to handle your investments? Leveraging an auto savings app to build a nest egg? All are examples of FinTech innovation that we now have access to with a tap and a swipe on our mobile devices.

FinTech is changing your life and you don't even know it

VC’s & banks take notice

As technology continues to permeate every aspect of our lives from social media to healthcare, why would our interactions with money be any different? Investment dollars have been pouring into FinTech the last few years ($17.4 Billion in venture backed funding in 2016 alone), which means that there are some very smart people trying to revolutionize every aspect of the financial services you use every day. While not all startups will be successful in this endeavor, the few that do will continue to transform the financial services ecosystem. And let’s not forget about big banks, top financial institutions have taken notice of the FinTech boom and taken action. These companies are building innovation labs, hiring top tech talent and investing / acquiring startups to ensure they stay relevant for customers in what has become a rapidly changing and competitive environment.

Technology rules

With all of the technology now available to create smarter, faster, and cheaper products and services, no corner of the financial industry will be left static. Take the rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether – could there be a day in the not-so-distant future where physical currency becomes obsolete? You may think that sounds crazy, however, the next time you make a purchase, ask the company if it accepts bitcoin as a form of payment – the answer may surprise you. Technology will continue to change and be applied to financial services at a pace that we could never have imagined just a few short years ago. Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, not to mention a little technology called “distributed ledger” will all play a role in fueling the next evolution of FinTech innovation for both institutions and consumers.

Global dominance

FinTech isn’t a regional, socio-economic or generational phenomenon. FinTech is global, and it will impact the entire financial ecosystem, from central banks to the unbanked. Get ready, because FinTech has only just begun changing your life.

Ashley Nagle Eknaian, program chair of the MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech at Brandeis University

Brandeis GPS announces new Information Security Leadership program chair

GPS recently named Joseph (Joe) Dalessandro as the Information Security Leadership program chair. In this new role, Dalessandro, who previously served as an instructor in the program, will recruit and mentor faculty, oversee course quality, and advise students on program and course requirements.

Joseph (Joe) Dalessandro

Joseph (Joe) Dalessandro, the newly-appointed Brandeis GPS Information Security Leadership program chair.

Dalessandro was selected for his extensive experience in information security, technology audit, and risk and people management. After graduating cum laude with an MS in Information Security from Norwich University, Dalessandro spent four years in Australia as the Head of Internal Audit for the Asia-Pacific region comprising Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan for Vanguard, the largest mutual fund company in the world.

Eventually, Dalessandro transitioned to Vanguard’s US information security team, where his role was part advisory — serving as a liaison with the firm’s Asia-Pacific offices — and part operative, performing information security risk assessments of Vanguard’s vendors and partners.

Brandeis GPS’s online Information Security Leadership program seeks to create the security leaders we need in the ever-advancing digital age. The program equips students to:

  • Develop a business case for investing in security and risk management.
  • Inform and influence senior executives to commit to obtaining and maintaining this investment.
  • Oversee the planning, acquisition and evolution of secure infrastructures.
  • Assess the impact of security policies and regulatory requirements on complex systems and organizational objectives.

We are so pleased to channel Joe’s global perspective and extensive experience into the Information Security Leadership program at Brandeis!

Brandeis GPS analytics program ranked in U.S. top 30

Brandeis University’s MS in Strategic Analytics program ranked 28th on College Choice’s list of the 50 Best Big Data Degrees for 2017.

Best Online Big Data ProgramsThe College Choice rankings were based on a combination of academic reputation, student satisfaction, affordability, and average annual salary of graduates. Strategic Analytics at GPS was selected for the breadth and depth of its coursework, the strength of its online learning model, and the success of its alumni.

From the College Choice announcement:

Strategic Analytics listing in College Choice's 50 Best Online Big Data Programs

View College Choice’s full list of schools here, and click here to learn more about Strategic Analytics at Brandeis.

Brandeis GPS student to receive national award for achievements in health and information technology

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) will award GPS Health and Medical Informatics student Jill Shuemaker with the Richard P. Covert, PhD, LFHIMSS Scholarship for Management Systems, a national award recognizing her contributions to the field of health and information technology in 2016.

The award coincides with Shuemaker’s emergence as a national expert in health and medical informatics. As a registered nurse with Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Shuemaker developed a patient-centered, analytic, teamwork-based approach that single-handedly ensures her organization’s electronic quality measure program fully meets federal regulatory requirements. She also advocates on a national level for advancing patient care through sound measurement design, implementation of quality program changes and vendor accountability.

Jill Shuemaker

Jill Shuemaker, a Brandeis GPS Health and Medical Informatics student

“HIMSS is proud to honor individuals that have made significant contributions to our mission of improving health through the use of information technology,” JoAnn W. Klinedinst, M.Ed., CPHIMS, PMP, DES, FHIMSS, vice president, professional development, HIMSS North America said in a press release. “Congratulations to all of the award and scholarship recipients for their achievements and for their skills and expertise focused on improving health and healthcare through the best use of IT.”

Shuemaker is currently enrolled in the Health and Medical Informatics graduate program at Brandeis University’s division of Graduate Professional Studies. As a part-time, fully online student, Shuemaker continues to advance her career as she works to improve and transform the healthcare industry.

In addition to her work as an RN, Shuemaker is a Certified Professional in Health Information Management Systems (CPHIMS) and Co-Chair of HIMSS National Quality and Safety Committee, where she interacts directly with clinicians, technical staff, and even federal officials on a routine basis.  She will officially receive her award later this month at the HIMSS annual Awards Gala in Orlando, Florida.

About Brandeis GPS

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to bringing an exceptional graduate education experience to adult learners across the country and the world. The division’s catalog of 12 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and certificates represents today’s most innovative industries, offering students opportunities to advance in management, technology, data informatics, marketing and other fields. With small classes, a convenient and flexible approach to online learning, and faculty who are leaders in their industries, GPS fosters a community that is mindful of its students’ professional, academic and personal commitments. As a leading research university and member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Brandeis fosters self-motivated, curious students ready to engage new experiences and global endeavors. The university is widely recognized for the excellence of its teaching, the quality and diversity of its student body and the outstanding research of its faculty.

GPS student wins big at Brandeis Innovation’s SPARKTank competition

Brandeis Bioinformatics student Donald Son and his team of entrepreneurs took third place in last Sunday’s university-wide SPARKTank competition, an annual live-pitch event hosted by Brandeis Innovation.

Competing against 12 other groups seeking seed funding to bring their startups to market, Son’s team received $10,000 to further their work on Green Herb Analytics (HerbDx). The California-based facility uses analytical chemistry, software integration and medicinal cannabinoid biology to provide quality assurance lab testing and ensure that the product entering the market is safe for human consumption. The startup also seeks to establish an innovative, cutting-edge brand with affordable prices.

While Son himself does not use cannabis, he has a personal connection to unregulated supplements and medicines and their impact on public health.

“I take herbs to manage my chronic fatigue syndrome and was initially concerned about what I was putting into my body,” said Son. “During my own research, I came across cannabis just as it was being voted on for recreational use in California. I felt the need to ensure the safety of this product to the consumer.”

HerbDx plans to put its seed funding toward a small lab space, a mass spectrometer to optimize pesticide testing, and to advance production and marketing efforts. Outreach efforts will include an increased digital and social media presence, partnerships with special interest groups, and visibility at trade shows and conferences.

About SPARKTank
SPARKTank is a live pitch event where Brandeis entrepreneurs compete for seed funding in front of a live audience. Thirteen teams comprised of Brandeis students, faculty and staff pitched their innovative ideas to a panel of industry judges with the hopes of receiving a portion of the $50,000 grant pool. The pitches included startups, technologies and entrepreneurial ventures, which demonstrated the extensive breadth of entrepreneurial spirit at Brandeis University.

Analytics and tech dominate 2017 top jobs list

If you’re a data scientist, you’re lucky enough to possess what Glassdoor calls the best job of 2017.

The online recruiting site released its annual top jobs list earlier this week, and it’s no surprise that data analytics dominated the majority of the positions in the top 10.

“We suddenly have a new and abundant resource that previously didn’t exist on such a scale: data — big data,” said Ellen Murphy, director of program development at Brandeis University’s division of Graduate Professional Studies (GPS). “Individuals with the skills and knowledge on how to mine this resource, refine this resource and use it strategically, are what industries are demanding. The need for data specialists will only continue to grow and expand.”

According to EAB, Glassdoor researchers examined user data and member profiles and assigned job ratings based on three primary criteria: median annual base salaries, overall job satisfaction and the number of openings for each position. Here’s Glassdoor’s top 10 jobs with median base salary and job score:

  1. Data Scientist, $110,000, 4.8/5
  2. DevOps Engineer, $110,000, 4.7/5
  3. Data Engineer, $106,000, 4.7/5
  4. Tax Manager, $110,000, 4.7/5
  5. Analytics Manager, $112,000, 4.6/5
  6. HR Manager, $85,000, 4.6/5
  7. Database Administrator, $93,000, 4.5/5
  8. Strategy Manager, $130,000, 4.5/5
  9. UX Designer, $92,500, 4.4/5
  10. Solutions Architect, $125,000, 4.4/5

View Glassdoor’s full list of the 50 best jobs in America here.

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