The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance


New Online M.S. in Engineering Management: Shaping the Future of Continuing Professional Education

The College of Engineering is planting a foot in the future by offering an online M.S. in Engineering Management. Many alumni may recognize elements in the new online program that resemble the highly successful Video Instructional Program, known affectionately as VIP, which was a mainstay for three decades in the College of Engineering. The times have changed, and the capabilities have dramatically increased since the VIP program was first started. Using what Continuing and Professional Education Research and Development Coordinator Victoria Matthew calls “more sophisticated distance learning technologies and an updated curriculum,” the new online M.S. in Engineering launches this spring.

Donald Fisher, Professor and Head in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, says: “Participants graduate ready to lead engineering and interdisciplinary teams, analyze the wealth of information (big data) pervasive in most industries, manage risk, make better decisions, design better products, and develop more effective processes.”

Fisher previously taught in the VIP program and is excited about the new potential that is represented by the advances in technologies over the last 30 to 40 years. 

A special benefit to alumni is the 10-percent discount available for the online engineering classes that form part of the program. 

The VIP program originated in 1974, when a grant was awarded to the College of Engineering by the Digital Equipment Corporation, and was spearheaded by Andrew Knowles. VIP allowed students across the country and around the world to experience the UMass engineering program without stepping onto campus. The program video-recorded various engineering classes in which faculty members taught an actual on-campus student “audience.” The video tapes were then sent to VIP students around the globe.

VIP was a big hit well into the 21st century, when the technology became outdated. “The instructors were the highest quality academics, and the program provided all the learning resources and student support necessary for a complete educational experience,” remarked Mark A. Urbanek P.E., a technical manager at General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems (GDAIS). “I would recommend the UMass Engineering Management program to anyone."

“When I graduated from UMass in 1991 with a M.S. degree in Engineering Management from the VIP program, little did I know I would be using the tools and skills I learned at UMass in the far corners of the world,” said Gregory Leo Dressel, principal and founder of Dressel Technologies LLC. “Since graduating from UMass I have had the opportunity to use the Engineering Management tools in such diverse places as Northern China to Central Peru. Right now I am in Saudi Arabia managing the hot-end melting and casting side of a major steel plant. I have found Engineering Management to be the perfect graduate degree for running a manufacturing operation.”  

Now VIP goes digital, high-tech, and online, utilizing much the same pool of expert professors from both the College of Engineering ( and the Isenberg School of Management. The 10-course curriculum starts with five core courses for everyone in the program: Human Factors Engineering; Introduction to Systems Engineering; Multiple Criteria Decision Making & Decision Analysis; Economic Decision Making; and Network Optimization. Then participants customize their program by choosing from a variety of electives.

The corporations served by the College of Engineering’s distance learning programs included ALCOA, AT&T, Boeing Defense & Space Group, Digital Equipment Corporation, Honeywell, IBM, Intel, Kimberly Clark, MITRE, Motorola, NASA, Raytheon, Siemens Medical Instruments, Texas Instruments, and Whirlpool.

To learn more about the online M.S. in Engineering Management, including the 10-percent discount available to alumni, visit, or contact Caanin Manson at (413) 545-1537 or (October 2013)