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Engineering Executive Program

 

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Executives from many of the Southern Californian aerospace companies graduated from the Executive Engineering Program at UCLA. Inside TRW's Integration and Test Facility in Redondo Beach, engineers work on the Orbiting Geophysical Laboratory.

The Engineering Executive Program was offered beginning in 1955 (Class of 1957) and was phased out after 1984 (Class of 1986). It was directed toward those engineers who expected to have leadership roles in high-technology industries. The program was designed for graduate students in engineering with at least five years of work experience who desired to improve their general knowledge of management functions, their ability to make decisions in complex situations, and their effectiveness in working with people. More than 700 men and women completed the part-time, two-year master's degree program. The alumni include presidents and CEOs, general managers, consultants, entrepreneurs, and academicians.

The program emphasized both individual study and projects that developed leadership skills and the ability to work as a member of a team. The assignments stressed sensitivity and flexibility when dealing with ambiguity, uncertainty and individual differences. In addition, students worked on projects based on their work situation. Classes were held one afternoon and evening per week for two academic years. In addition, there were significant summer assignments prior to the beginning of each fall session.

It was the first engineering-management program to incorporate the computer, a Bendix G15, into the lecture and laboratory exercises. There was laboratory training in human relations, leadership, and organization theory. Professors from the Graduate School of Management, the Psychology department, and executives from industry and government augmented the engineering faculty.

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Circa 1962, Hughes executives enjoy the view from a Hughes 300 helicopter manufactured in Culver City.

A distinctive element of the program was the class project. Some particular need of modern industry, government or society was selected by the faculty as a general problem area for a class project. The class defined a specific project, established objectives and formulated and compared alternative solutions using the systems engineering approach.

Professor Joseph Manildi was given leave to consult with industrial leaders, especially in the local aerospace community, in preparing the program; therefore strong industrial support was maintained from the beginning. Faculty who made major contributions included Morris Asimow, John Lyman, William Van Vorst, Bonham Campbell, Alexander Boldyreff, Russell O'Neill, and Jacob Frankel.