Master's degree offered in India through NetLink

Apr 21, 2003

NetLink Software Group is working with Kettering's Office of Graduate Studies to offer the master's of science degree in Manufacturing Operations (MSMO) for students in India, which could help foster better relations between the two countries.

Sometimes it's difficult to precisely gauge the perception of people from other parts of the world regarding U.S. based institutions,particularly in this day of social unrest and uncertainty in the Middle East. For many Americans, it's clear that some people in the Middle East view western culture and society with caution, which often makes potential market penetration of U.S. products andservices somewhat difficult.

This is one aspect of why Kettering's Office of Graduate Studies recently established a relationship with an India-based software company that could create a significant, lasting partnership with some of India's renowned institutions of higher education,especially at the graduate level.

NetLink Software Group (www.netlinksoft.net), an India-based global company with offices in Troy, Mich., is working with Kettering's Office of Graduate Studies to offer the master's of science degree in Manufacturing Operations (MSMO) for students in India, which could help foster better relations between the two countries. Founded in 1997, NetLink Software Group is a worldwide provider of professional information technology services and works with many successful companies in the U.S., including DaimlerChrysler, GM, Rubbermaid, Motorola, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. The organization also provides development, testing and implementation skills to management consultants.

With many U.S. corporations shifting manufacturing operations to such countries as India due to the relatively low cost associated with operations overseas, Kettering officials realize that organizations face specific economic realities that predicate the move ofcertain segments of operations to areas in the world that are more economically beneficial to the corporation. As a consequence, Kettering is following this need, since it provides a great opportunity for global growth of the school's graduate programs.

Kettering's MSMO degree is already the preferred program to support the manufacturing pillar of General Motors' foundation for technical education. After testing the quality of the program using stringent metrics, GM wishes to offer this degree to all of their plant professionals throughout the world.

Part of the need to provide a master's of science degree in Manufacturing Operations to students in India stems from the overabundance of MBA programs from India-based institutions and universities from the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Furthermore, no institution of higher education currently offers a niche program like the Kettering MSMO in an environment with an increasing demand for well-trained professionals in manufacturing. With many U.S. companies moving manufacturing operations to India in recent years, this advanced degree is even more attractive. As a result of these moves, Kettering has a unique opportunity to deliver high-quality education in new markets.

Kettering Associate Professor Atul Agarwal of the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering and Business Dept. will serve as program director for this effort. Some of his responsibilities in this new program include making sure that the curriculum is attuned to the needs of local students and the industry in India. In his view, this new partnership will help bolster Kettering's global reach by making students aware of the University's history and experience in training leaders in the manufacturing engineering sector, a number of whom currently lead internationally-known companies.

"Kettering is uniquely positioned to take advantage of these opportunities by leveraging its existing programs and distance learned education infrastructure with a minimum outlay of cost," Agarwal said. "This degree is considered a passport to high paying jobs within Indian and multinational companies."

The partnership with Kettering is one that makes earning the MSMO degree easy for students who live and work in India. NetLink currently has several associations with universities in India and established learning centers where students who wish to pursue the Kettering MSMO degree will take classes. For example, Agarwal said that NetLink enjoys a presence in the Indian education market with a controlling interest in the Fortune Institute of International Business (FIIB), a prestigious post-graduate institution in New Delhi. The organization also has a strong connection with the Technical Teachers Training Institute (TTTI), as well as with government and local industry. For this new offering, Agarwal explained that NetLink arranged important visits for Kettering officials and meetings with officials at various institutions in New Delhi and Bhopal.

Many students who will undertake this advanced degree opportunity will come to the program with a number of different undergraduate degrees already in hand. Thus, the program does not require students to have a manufacturing engineering background to begin the MSMO course work. What also makes this program even more opportunistic is the exposure of the University to a greater number of students and faculty at India-based universities. These professors will assist the program by proctoring exams, leading discussions of videotaped lectures given by Kettering professors, and perform other associated duties. Kettering will also deliver courses through CD-ROM and video streaming technology. Students gain by their participation because they earn a degree from an American university, especially for those individuals who do not have a manufacturing background. This is significant, because the degree program provides in-depth exposure on the latest modern manufacturing operations theories and practices used by leading companies throughout the world.

Additionally, students in India receive the option of completing their last term of study at Kettering University, thus broadening their exposure to western culture and society, which translates into an opportunity to develop a network of contacts with American engineers and executives. This aspect of the program is a departure from offerings available at other U.S. institutions, and further distinguishes the Kettering MSMO program.

Assisting the effort at Kettering's end are Sheri Curtis, coordinator for Continuing Education; David Strubler, associate vice president of Graduate Studies and Corporate Connections; and Tony Hain, vice president of Graduate Studies and Corporate Connections. Agarwal noted that without the leadership of Hain, this program many have never gotten off the ground.

The first class of the program will begin this summer. Kettering is looking into developing a master's of science degree in Information Technology (MSIT) for this market as well. If plans progress accordingly, Kettering will offer both the MSMO and MSIT by the winter 2004 term.

To learn more about this new degree opportunity, contact Kettering's Office of Graduate Studies and Corporate Connections at (810) 762-7953, or visit Kettering's website at www.kettering.edu/graduate/.

Written by Gary Erwin
(810) 762-9538
gerwin@kettering.edu