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Military to Teach MIT-Designed Course in Product Development

May 19, 2000|INDRANEEL SUR | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Striving to bring private sector expertise to frequently expensive and delay-ridden military contracting, the Defense Department said Thursday it will offer its managers a special master's degree in product development designed by professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Instructors at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey will teach the course beginning in the fall, with lectures beamed electronically to military installations in San Diego, Washington, and Patuxent River, Md., among others. As many as 20 uniformed officers and civilians who make decisions about defense-system development and procurement will enroll in the two-year program this fall, said Carson Eoyang, a management professor at the naval school. The enrollment could be expanded in coming years.

"We're hoping to develop a cadre of people who can learn what the best practices are from the private sector and bring them to bear on the acquisition of defense systems," Eoyang said.

On average, it takes the military 12 years to develop a single weapons system, he said.

Faculty at MIT's Sloan School of Management and its engineering departments created the degree several years ago to train mid-career employees from corporations in systems design and executive leadership, said Paul Lagace, an MIT aeronautics professor leading the program.

Variations of the degree are now offered by universities in Detroit for workers at Ford Motor Co. and in Rochester, N.Y., for Xerox Corp. and Eastman Kodak Co. employees.

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