Minh T. Nguyen, a software design engineer at Microsoft, is getting his master's degree in software engineering at Carnegie Mellon West. The program's unique set-up makes it a perfect fit for full-time professionals.
The program is project-oriented, with no traditional exams. Students work individually and in teams — studying online material, scheduling meetings with faculty and each other, collaborating and delivering their results as a source code, document or presentation.
"I never realized the importance of team-building and soft skills until I started at Carnegie Mellon West," said Nguyen. "Just during the first semester alone, I learned so much about how to effectively lead a team that I wish I could have applied this knowledge at my previous non-profit work."
Nguyen says he appreciates that he can be on a business trip in Seattle or a family visit to Orange County and still not miss a meeting. According to Diane Dimeff, associate dean for external relations and professional development at Carnegie Mellon West, the flexibility of the program is key.
"Flexibility makes this program ideal for full-time professionals, especially those who spend a lot of time traveling for their jobs and putting in long hours," she said.
A strong focus on solving real-world problems translates to the students being able to immediately apply what they learn to their responsibilities on the job. Teaching methods that include workshops, small group coaching and problem-driven seminars allow the students to get the most out of their learning experience.
"Carnegie Mellon West's simulation-based curriculum places me right into a context that most closely resembles a real work environment," said Nguyen. "It focuses on the strengths that will pay off the most once I graduate, if not even earlier."