HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Representatives from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Massachusetts Military Asset & Security Strategy Task Force joined Hanscom leadership here Aug. 8 to recognize the second cohort of military and civilian students to complete the program manager seminar.
Catherine Kendrick, dean of the Division of Online and Continuing Education at UMass Lowell, presented certificates of completion to the 28 students who participated in the 16-week seminar.
The seminar is part of an Education Partnership Agreement between Hanscom and UMass Lowell. The original EPA was signed in 2014 and was expanded to include the program manager seminar in 2016.
Funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts enabled the partnership to move forward.
“The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is investing in Americans and professionals,” said John Beatty, the Massachusetts Military Asset & Security Strategy Task Force executive director. “It’s a bold concept and I’m proud that it’s continuing today.”
While the structure of this partnership is uncommon, UMass Lowell sees it as a model for collaboration between higher education, state and federal partners.
“I think our partnership is very innovative,” said Kendrick, addressing the students and other ceremony attendees. “It’s really a three-way partnership between Hanscom Air Force Base, the university and MassDevelopment. I think it represents a new model for workforce development and how it should be done nationally.”
Kendrick went on to explain that UMass Lowell strives to work with companies and organizations to customize programs, rather than offering “off-the-shelf” courses. And based on feedback from Hanscom’s program executive officers, that objective has been met here.
“This program aims right at the heart of what we do here every day,” said Steve Wert, Battle Management program executive officer. “It’s more than a résumé item. This coursework applies very directly to our business and this program is a force multiplier to what we do here at Hanscom.”
During his remarks to students and ceremony attendees, Patrick Marr, the senior site functional for acquisition at Hanscom, highlighted how the program is evolving to better meet the needs of the students and directorates benefiting from it.
“Improvements to this program included the incorporation of Defense Acquisition University online training as a prerequisite to starting the UMass Lowell program,” Marr said. “Additionally, we leveraged the Air Force Institute of Technology’s training course to better prepare our graduates for the upcoming Project Management Institutes’ Project Management Professional certification exam.”
As a prerequisite, students completed 20 hours of online training in program scheduling and work breakdown structures, as well as cybersecurity and agile software acquisition studies.
Hanscom division chiefs nominated students for the program, which was held on Hanscom and led by UMass Lowell instructors.
“I was encouraged to apply to the program by my supervisor,” said Mona Wheeler, a Battle Management deputy program manager and one of the 28 students to complete the seminars. “My supervisor attended the same program and highly recommended it. I was very fortunate to be one of the program managers selected to attend.”
Capt. Taeyoung Lee, a program manager under Battle Management and one of the seminar students, agreed that students are leaving the program with essential skillsets and connections.
“The most meaningful parts of the program were networking with folks outside of my immediate program office, listening to different perspectives, sharing in similar experiences and problem solving,” Lee said. “Having more tools and techniques to identify and manage risk is invaluable.”
The acquisition community at Hanscom hopes to continue the program’s success with a third cohort of students in the next fiscal year.
“Denise Williams, AQ’s focal point for the PM Workforce Certification Program, in conjunction with Adam Freudberg, Hanscom’s partnership POC, are compiling lessons learned and student and PEO feedback to continue to improve the next instantiation of the course in late FY19,” Marr said.