Going back to school, it can be easy to believe you're simply a student again. But after six weeks it's clear the MS-TM program will make sure we don't slip into this mindset.
Every Friday we convene for our "Frontiers in Technology" seminar course, a catch-all for speakers, events, and professional development sessions. What's the purpose? To provide a weekly reminder that, despite our backpacks and dressed-down attire, we are working professionals who are here to become better managers. In my view, the seminar course has thus far been the best example of the value-added of attending the MS-TM program, as opposed to other tech management or generic MBA programs.
Today I'll give you one example of what I mean. A few weeks ago, we visited the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) here on the Univ. Illinois campus. There, we met with Merle Giles, head of the Center's private sector program. Merle has the incredibly cool job of taking some of the world's most powerful computing systems and figuring out how to make them as useful as possible in as many ways as possible to private organizations doing cutting-edge science and engineering work.
Merle's presentation conveyed that working in supercomputing is equal parts magic and pragmatism. On one hand, it's clear everyone working at NCSA is beyond excited about Blue Waters, a project to build the world's most powerful sustained supercomputer. A system of this scope, power, and potential is, in technical terms, really damn cool.
But as awestruck as we were by the implications of Blue Waters, Merle focused at great length about the importance of developing software that puts the brainpower of such a system to best use for industrial applications. The mantra was clear: big problems require big solutions.
To me, it was a really great lesson in what being a technology manager is all about. You must have a real passion for the technology you work with, but also demand those tools provide maximum practical value.
OK, gotta go. Class starts soon. But I'll post more on the Frontiers in Technology seminar as the semester progresses.