The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Brandeis announces commitment to open source movement

Brandeis University and Open Source Initiative to launch new educational partnership
Resources designed to fill key skills gaps as open source industry matures.

PORTLAND, OR – Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) will partner with The Open Source Initiative® (OSI) to provide new educational offerings for the open source community, the university announced at OSCON 2019. 

As more companies start leveraging Open Source Software to reduce costs, decrease time to deployment and foster innovation, the organizations that have realized success as open source consumers are now extending their participation within open source communities as collaborators and contributors. This shift can create new challenges to traditional business processes and models, requiring dedicated policies, programs and personnel to ensure that the investments in open source projects produce the desired benefits while still aligning with the values of the open source communities. The Brandeis GPS-OSI partnership will help address the growing demand for expertise within organizations seeking to authentically collaborate with, and productively manage, open source resources. 

“Understanding how to assess, engage, and contribute to open source communities while also delivering value to your company is the next generation skill set employers are looking for,” said Patrick Masson, general manager of the Open Source Initiative. “We’re thrilled to work with Brandeis to help continue the incredible growth of open source software and projects.”

True to open source software process and principles, the educational offerings coming out of the partnership will be crowd-sourced and jointly developed by an advisory board comprised of university curriculum development experts and senior open source advocates from Amazon, Red Hat, Bloomberg, Twitter and other leading companies. 

“Brandeis GPS is known for developing programs that keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in technology,” said Dr. James La Creta, the university’s chief information officer and chair of the Master of Science in Technology Management program. “Much like the other graduate programs at Brandeis GPS, open source technology’s flexibility, speed, and cost-effectiveness makes it extremely desirable for organizations. It yields a better quality product, creates a culture of collaboration, and attracts curious and innovative talent that all CIO’s covet.”

Courses and other initiatives are currently in development, and the university expects to announce more information about the first open source educational program later this year. Visit www.brandeis.edu/open-source to learn more.

About Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies
Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) offers fully online, part-time graduate programs, specializations, and professional development courses in today’s most in-demand fields. With graduate programs that include Technology Management, Information Security Leadership, User-Centered Design, and Digital Innovation for FinTech, Brandeis GPS strives to provide programs that empower students to be on the leading edge of advancements in technology and innovation. 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. 

About The Open Source Initiative

Founded in 1998, The Open Source Initiative protects and promotes Open Source Software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition, and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement. The OSI is a public charity with global vision based in California. For more information about the OSI, please see, opensource.org.

Student Spotlight: Charlie D’Angelo

Student spotlight on Charlie D'Angelo from Northborough, Massachusetts. He is part of the Digital Marketing and Design Program and is a digital marketing manager at Boston Scientific. He has taken seven class. Movie theater or Netflix? Netflix. Favorite ice cream flavor? Chocolate almond chip. If there were 25 hours in a day, how would you use that extra hour? Learn to play the piano. Mr D'Angelo says, "Digital marketing expertise is so important in today's business world, and my goals include being the most knowledgeable digital professional I can be to help Boston Scientific continue to grow."

Meet the newest GPS faculty members

Our July session is just around the corner, and we are excited to welcome the newest faculty members to Brandeis University. These industry leaders come to Brandeis GPS with expertise and established networks within their fields. We have no doubt that the knowledge and experience they bring will provide for meaningful learning opportunities in their online classrooms.

Michelle Venezia: Foundations of Project Management

Michelle Venezia is the Director of the Information System Division’s Project Portfolio Office at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She has 20+ years of global experience in business development and project management, spanning the  IT, healthcare, medical device and defense industries. She received an MBA from Pennsylvania State University, a BS in Industrial Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo and holds the Project Management Professional (PMP), Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP), and Portfolio Management Professional (PIMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). Learn more about Foundations of Project Management here.

Timothy Song: Bioinformatics Scripting and Databases with Python

Timothy Song, MS, is a bioinformatics engineer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. He works on creating tools for the cancer informatics pipeline and aiding oncologists in their research. His prior work includes analyzing Influenza viral diversity in human populations from next generation sequencing data. Learn more about Bioinformatics Scripting and Databases with Python here.

David Swiniarski: Perspectives on Information Technology

David Swiniarski, MBA, is a Managing Consultant with Norima Consulting where he leads strategic information technology programs and projects for clients in alignment with their firm’s business strategy. Leveraging his business architecture skills, he has successfully delivered programs and projects related to the strategic competencies of IT governance, transformation, risk management and regulatory compliance in the Financial Services industry. He received a MBA from Suffolk University. Learn more about Perspectives on Information Technology here.

Robert Lipscomb: Agile Software Development

Robert “Kirk” Lipscomb is a Technology Manager with 40 years of experience in software development. Currently API Development Manager for Fiserv, a major FinTech company, Kirk has owned a software consulting firm and has managed development teams in a variety of industries. He has a strong track record of successful agile transformations, even in industries like defense contracting where he managed a team supporting military operations on-site in Baghdad, Iraq. Kirk has a BS in Computer Science from Texas A&M and an MBA in Technology Management from the University of Colorado. Learn more about Agile Software Development here.

Sarah Pagliacio: User Experience Design

Sarah Pagliacio, MA, ALM, is the Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at Black Pepper, a digital strategy consultancy that provides customer research, user experience design, and usability testing services. Sarah leads a team that delivers award-winning large-scale content-managed websites and complex mobile and desktop web apps for higher education, financial services, not-for-profit, and healthcare organizations. Her research interests include artificial intelligence and machine learning in Shakespeare and the user-centered design process. She received her BA and MA in psychology from Boston University and an ALM in English Literature from Harvard Extension School. Learn more about User Experience Design here.

Daniel Pineo: Machine Learning

Dr. Daniel Pineo has over 15 years of broad expertise developing advanced machine learning, computer vision, and artificial intelligence algorithms. He specializes in developing robust, high-performance algorithms for bespoke hardware platforms. He works as Director of Algorithm Development for L3 Technologies, and prior to that was Senior Principal Research Engineer for BAE Systems. Learn more about Machine Learning here.

Dragan Grigorjev: Risk Management in Projects and Programs

Dragan Grigorjev, MBA, PMP, CSM, is a Senior Technical Program Manager in Information Technology Services Industry. He leads all aspects of program management for strategic initiatives that transform the global enterprise business systems. His responsibilities include establishing best practices, governance frameworks, PMO standards, procedures, and quality objectives including metrics and KPls for assessing progress of strategic technology programs. Learn more about Risk Management in Project and Programs 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.

 

How to balance sunshine and studying

To many graduate students who follow a more traditional academic schedule, summer means pressing pause on their journeys toward an advanced degree. For part-time, online graduate students in programs designed to run all year, summer provides students an opportunity to continue the momentum and complete a degree in less time than they would if their program followed a conventional dual-semester model.

Students enrolled in these types of programs may wonder how their course commitments will impact summer travel and vacation. But taking a summer course does not need to mean the end of your summer fun. Here are some tips for balancing your course load while still enjoying your family, friends, or solo beach time.

Create a realistic plan

As soon as your summer course syllabus is available, read through it. Make note of any big assignments, exams, and final projects. If you know that you are going to be vacationing or having a busy week, then plan to complete your assignments ahead of schedule. Be honest with yourself about how much time you are going to need for your course. One of the worst things you can do when trying to be efficient with coursework is not planning enough time for your assignments; it creates more stress and can lead to work that is not up to par with your abilities. Make time for your assignments by creating a weekly routine that is practical for you. Here are some time management apps that can help you do just that.

Make use of technology

Make use of Wi-Fi and the portability/mobility that comes with an internet connection. Brandeis GPS is an example of a school that allows you to take online classes from any location. You can download course materials directly to your mobile device or laptop while traveling, and also access your classroom while on the go (or by the pool).

Utilize the small moments

Whether you are hanging by the beach or travelling to Japan, there are always small moments when you are on the move but can find a break. There may be no Wi-Fi on a plane or in a car, but you can use the travel time to prep your next discussion response, read through feedback from your instructor, or jot down ideas for your final project. By taking advantage of these spare moments, you may not even realize you’ve chipped away at school-related deadlines.

Find a program that sets you up for success

Brandeis GPS’s upcoming 10-week session runs from July 17 to Sept. 24. Courses are fully online and designed with a learning experience that supports adults working full-time.

Students interested in a Brandeis GPS graduate program can take courses before starting the application process. View the July course schedule here. To speak with an enrollment advisor, contact gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

The Power of Learning Experience Design

By Carol Damm

Carol DammHow would you like to go on a week-long retreat to Hawaii, all expenses paid, with your colleagues to put together a framework to enable programmatic changes to how you offer your courses? This was what we termed an outrageous solution presented by a team of instructional designers and instructional technologists at a recent workshop I organized on Learning Experience Design in Higher Ed. We challenged the attendees to move outside of their comfort zone and to not let existing practice within higher ed to frame their thinking.

Featuring Brandeis University’s Brian Salerno, Gary David from Bentley University, and Melissa Kane at Brown University, the NERCOMP workshop’s goal was to show participants why and how they should be integrating learning experience design as a practice in higher ed.

Learning experience design applies user-centered design methodologies along with a deep understanding of cognitive psychology and learning sciences to creating impactful and transformative solutions for learners and the wider ecosystem within which learning happens. User-centered design methods have been adopted across industries because the approach effectively enables out-of-box thinking to identify problems and generate new solutions. At the same time, the approach remains grounded by keeping primary stakeholders — whether users or learners — at the center of the process.

So, while an all-expense paid trip to Maui would not be happening, these creative minds hit on an essential component of bringing about mandated change within a department: the faculty would need to work together to determine how to meet the mandate and the university would need to provide support for this effort by contributing to an attractive experience or focused time frame within which they can shape how they will meet this challenge. In order to improve the learning experience, those who construct that experience will need support.

The solution that the team provided incorporated other innovative practice as did all of the presentations made that day; whether supporting a faculty member who needed to revise a course based on student feedback, creating a professional development course for a diverse population of working professionals, or creating an IT solution to improve the student experience in a learning management system.

If you are interested in reviewing the slides of the presentation or reviewing some of the resources, you can find out more here.

 

Carol Damm is the Director of Programs and Assessment at Brandeis GPS and an adjunct faculty in the MS in Learning Experience Design program.

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

Hiring in an Ever-Changing Landscape

By Jesse Mazur

The New Hotness

You can’t go a month without hearing about the latest new framework or language that will solve all of your coding problems. In the mobile and front-end worlds it feels like last year’s state-of-the-art project is next year’s crufty legacy code. In this ever-changing landscape, engineers are always trying to learn the latest technique, attend a new bootcamp, or crank out a new personal project in order to keep up. The result can be piles of resumes that contain every new buzz word under the sun, and applicants painting themselves as the best candidate for just about any engineering position. How can hiring managers ensure that they find the right person? How can aspiring engineers land the right job?

The answer: fundamentals.

Back to Basics

There will always be a new way to do things. In the iOS world we saw a major shift from Objective C to Swift. In the Android world we are seeing a shift from Java to Kotlin. In the web world, we saw jQuery take the JavaScript world by storm, then Google’s Angular was the only way anyone wanted to write web apps. Now, it seems like Facebook’s React is leading the pack. What has not changed are the basic building blocks of software: data structures and algorithms. Minor differences aside, an array is always an array and a for loop is always a for loop. What many new engineers are missing when they go after “the new hotness” are those fundamentals. It’s not just about knowing how to set up an Action/Reducer in React that makes someone a good engineer. That skill will make them relevant right now, in the world where React is king, but in a few years there will be a new player in the game and that skill will be yesterday’s news. The engineers that will continue to shine will be those who understand the fundamentals of programming so that they can adapt to the next wave of short-lived must-have tech stacks.

The Current Process

There are certainly valid criticisms of common tech hiring practices. Long interview loops with difficult coding problems written primarily on a whiteboard inevitably leave something to be desired. The reason for this process is often misunderstood and can lead to dissatisfied candidates complaining about unfair, puzzle-like questions. “When was the last time anyone actually used a red black tree on the job anyway?!” Not all of those complaints are unwarranted. An engineer, at her core, is a problem solver. The programming language is simply one of many tools she uses to solve the problem. The spirit of these questions is to reveal the candidate’s problem solving skills in order to understand if she will be able to solve similar problems on the job. Coding interviews shouldn’t be vocabulary tests or mind bending trick questions. A well-worded question will challenge the candidate, but it will also be practical and relevant to the work they will be doing on the job. It will have several possible solutions, each of which may leverage different data structures and algorithms. Its difficulty will also scale, so that a more seasoned engineer will solve it more elegantly, while handling more edge cases right off the bat. An experienced interviewer should be able to gauge that skill early on and know what curve balls to throw the candidate to calibrate the questions to the candidate’s level.

Talent vs Skill

A final piece of the puzzle is the ability to recognize and balance the difference between talent and skill. In this context, talent is defined as an innate ability or trait the candidate possesses— something that cannot necessarily be taught. A skill, on the other hand, can be defined as something that can be mastered with practice over time. Finding the correct engineer should start with identifying which talents she needs to embody in order to be successful in the role, then defining the ideal skillset. For example, a candidate with a natural drive to deliver results, who is a quick learner with good fundamentals, might not need to be 100% familiar with the bleeding-edge framework being used on a given project. She can probably join the team, learn quickly, and get a project to the finish line on time.

Conclusion

The engineering world is always changing and there will always be some new way to solve the same old problems. Finding candidates with innate talents that are necessary for the role, who also have a strong grasp of the fundamentals, will set up any dev team for longer term success. Trying to hire a team of engineers who only know the latest and greatest means having a staff that will not outlast the ever-shortening lifespan of tech stacks. What’s more, trying to find that unicorn-ninja-coder may actually take longer than simply finding a solid engineer who can learn on the job.

Jesse Mazur is a Senior Director of Engineering at Meredith Corporation, the largest US media conglomerate (People, Sports Illustrated, Real Simple, etc.), and a member of the Brandeis GPS Master of Software Engineering advisory board.

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.

Rabb School 2019 commencement ceremony celebrates commitment to having it all

The Rabb School of Continuing Studies awarded diplomas to 117 Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) students at its 2019 commencement ceremony this morning. Approximately one-third of the graduating class attended the event, which took place from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the Faculty Club on campus.

One of four schools at Brandeis University, the Rabb School is dedicated to developing innovative ways to deliver a Brandeis education to non-traditional communities. The GPS students graduating today have earned their masters of science degrees fully online, often while holding down full-time jobs and balancing other professional and personal obligations.

“You embody the larger mission of Brandeis, which is distinguished by academic excellence and the pursuit of truth and knowledge,” said Karen Muncaster, Vice President of the Rabb School, in her opening address. “The entire University community has great respect for what you have accomplished and how you have done it.”

Keishalee Shaw, a graduate of the Strategic Analytics program and this year’s student speaker, encouraged 2019 graduates to embrace life’s curveballs.

“Today we celebrate our success … and remind ourselves that our desire to learn was and will always be greater than any obstacle we have faced along this journey or will face in the future,” said Shaw.

Commencement speaker Michael Figueroa, president and executive director of the Advanced Cyber Security Center, challenged the graduating class to consider the value their advanced degrees can bring to situations beyond individual professional accomplishments.

“Go ahead, dream big,” Figueroa said. “Perhaps your dream is about literacy, providing people with the education they need to overcome poverty. Or, perhaps you’re concerned about global health, preventing the spread of virulent diseases and providing basic healthcare services to underprivileged peoples. Maybe climate change drives you. Whatever it is, hold on to it.You have already invested in your degree. Now, put that investment to good use.”

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

  • Master of Software Engineering (11 graduates)
  • MS in Bioinformatics (7 graduates)
  • MS in Digital Marketing and Design (8 graduates)
  • MS in Health and Medical Informatics (12 graduates)
  • MS in Information Security (6 graduates)
  • MS in Information Security Leadership (2 graduates)
  • MS in Information Technology Management (5 graduates)
  • MS in Instructional Design & Technology (6 graduates)
  • MS in Project and Program Management (31 graduates)
  • MS in Technology Management ( 2 graduates)
  • MS in Strategic Analytics (26 graduates)
  • MS in User-Centered Design (1 graduate)

View a recording of the commencement ceremony here. Congratulations to our graduates!

Countdown to Commencement 2019

It’s that time of the year! A new set of students from Brandeis University’s division of Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) are gathering their friends and family and preparing to travel to Waltham, MA to walk across the stage and receive the master’s degrees they so diligently worked toward. This year’s Rabb School of Continuing Studies commencement ceremony will take place on the Brandeis University campus on May 19, 2019. Graduates and their families unable to attend in person can stream the ceremony on Facebook or  here: http://www.brandeis.edu/streaming/rabb.html

The ceremony will feature the following speakers:

GPS Commencement Speaker: Michael Figueroa

Michael Figueroa HeadshotMichael Figueroa, CISSP, is President and Executive Director of the Advanced Cyber Security Center, a Boston-based nonprofit that organizes the private and public sectors to operationalize collaborative defense, strengthening each member’s cybersecurity posture and preparing the region’s response to large-scale cyber threats. Michael has a diverse IT background, serving at times as an executive technology strategist, chief architect, product manager, and disruptive technology champion. His past work has spanned a broad spectrum: preparing cyber technologies for transition, managing research and development, applying non-security emerging technologies such as deep learning and human analytics to security problems, and serving as the Principal Investigator for a DARPA-funded effort to design and develop an innovative secure network and communications platform for cloud and mobile applications. Michael has served as a CISO for a late-stage financial services startup, was a strategic program advisor for CISOs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the World Bank Group, and has managed consulting teams securing large-scale systems integration efforts at DHS. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Brain and Cognitive Sciences and received his masters degree from the George Washington University (GWU) in Forensic Sciences, concentrating on High Tech Crime Investigations.

Student Speaker: Keishalee Shaw

Keishalee Shaw HeadshotKeishalee Shaw is a native of St. Ann, Jamaica, and was raised in Maryland.

Her passion for healthcare began at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. where she shadowed the Hospital’s CEO and learned what it takes to run such a large operation. Soon after completing her graduate studies, she worked as a technical program assistant at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD. In 2006, she worked as an analyst for New York State’s Bureau of Medicaid Statistics and Program Analysis in Albany, NY.  In 2008, she was selected to be the reimbursement system senior policy analyst at Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy in Boston. In 2011, she accepted a technical program leader position at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, where she was eventually selected for one of Blue Cross’s competitive leadership program. There, she spent four years receiving executive mentorship and training throughout different departments within Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA.

Keishalee holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in English and Literature with a minor in Political Science from the University of Maryland College Park; a Masters of Science in Healthcare Administration Management from the University of Maryland University College; a Masters in International Healthcare Management, Economics and Policy from Bocconi School of Management in Milan, Italy; and a Certificate in Public Sector Management from Cornell’s School of Industrial ad Labor Relations in Albany, New York.

Keishalee resides in Milton, Massachusetts with her husband Steven and her children, Katherine, Kristianna, William, and Alexander.

Congratulations to all of our graduates, we can’t wait to celebrate your accomplishments with you! For more commencement-related updates, follow along with us here on the blog and at #GPSClassof2019.

GPS at UXPA Boston 2019

The Boston Chapter of the User Experience Professionals Association will be holding their 18th Annual User Experience Conference on Friday, May 10, at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

Eva Kaniasty, chair of the User-Centered Design program at Graduate Professional Studies, will participate in the Innovation Fishbowl (9:15 a.m.), a debate-style panel session that will cover several controversial topics around UX and innovation:

  • What’s the state of UX design for emerging technologies (voice, IoT, etc)?
  • Are we inventing new processes and methodologies, or just re-branding the old?
  • When we creatively adapt a method or process to fit project realities, are we losing its core benefits/value?
  • Are standards and design systems good for UX, or are they forcing us to design to the least common denominator?
  • Can design collaboration and reliance on user feedback devolve into groupthink and rejection of new ideas?
  • Does UX foster or kill innovation?
  • Have we finally found a way to make Agile and UX play well together?

The Fishbowl format is designed to facilitate discussion in large groups, making it ideal for an advanced conference session. First the panelists will discuss a topic while the audience listens. Next, the audience is invited to join the discussion with questions and comments. The fishbowl round continues for 10-15 minutes, at which point a new topic is introduced and the process repeats.

Eva will also be facilitating a lunchtime discussion at the conference. If you’d like to learn more about the event and programs offered, check out the website and follow along with the hashtag: #UXPABOS19.

GPS FinTech instructor editorial featured in Boston Business Journal

Sarah Biller HeadshotIn a recent editorial in the Boston Business Journal, GPS FinTech instructor Sarah Biller discusses Boston fintechs and their unique position to be able to transform the finance industry and solve some of America’s most pressing financial challenges. Biller is co-founder of FinTech Sandbox and founding advisor of MassChallenge FinTech.

Read the full article here, and request more information about studying FinTech at Brandeis here.

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