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UVA Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program
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Kenneth J. Pittman, graduate (attended classes at Virginia Commonwealth University):

Kenneth J. Pittman, PE graduated from the University of Virginia in December 2004 with a Master of Civil Engineering-Structures through the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP). Through the University and CGEP, Mr. Pittman was able to obtain one of his academic goals. In three years Mr. Pittman was able to obtain his degree while working and taking distance learning live broadcast classes at the VCU Site, on-grounds classes, and distance learning transfer classes from other engineering schools. Mr. Pittman is neither the first Wahoo nor the first Virginia engineer in his family. It is a "family affair" with both his sons being recent UVA engineering alumni. Jonathan M. Pittman graduated in May 2001 with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering and Justin D. Pittman graduated in May 2003 with a Bachelor of Systems Engineering.

Mr. Pittman is a Professional Engineer and Principal of the Structural Engineering Consulting firm of Dunbar, Milby, Williams, Pittman & Vaughan, PC and has been with the company since 1974.   The firm continues its Virginia connection with five of the current seven principals being UVA alumni.  The University connection is further enhanced by the numerous University of Virginia projects for which Mr. Pittman's firm has provided engineering services.

Mr. Pittman appreciates the University for his academic, professional and business connections and will strive to maintain a continued relationship.

Chuck Warren, Graduate (attended classes at the Lynchburg Center for Advanced Engineering):

How can industrial engineers broaden their technical knowledge when they become managers of people from various technical disciplines? Fifteen years ago, Chuck Warren faced such a challenge. As a project manager at Lynchburg- based Wegmann USA, Inc., a manufacturer of mechanical and electro-mechanical components for the defense industry, he decided to pursue a master's degree—and a certificate in manufacturing systems—from U.Va. “I felt it would round out my technical knowledge,” he recalls.

Warren enrolled in the Engineering School 's distance learning program, hosted by Lynchburg College.  It took about six years to earn his master's degree, but Warren believes the effort was worth it. Now president of Wegmann USA , he says the “technical focus” of U.Va.'s program has helped him more fully understand a broader range of technical and management issues within the company.

Under Warren 's direction, Wegmann USA is recognized for quality, professionalism, and customer service. “These attributes keep us competitive,” he says. They also mean success for the company, which recently started production on an important $3.75 million contract manufacturing components for the M777, a new lightweight artillery system for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.

Dewey Spangler, current student at the Roanoke Valley Graduate Center:

I have been involved with the CGEP since the Fall Semester of 2003 through the University of Virginia (Roanoke - Higher Ed. site) and have completed six graduate hours in Mechanical Engineering delivered through a distance learning format. I have a Master's Degree from Virginia Tech in Civil Engineering (Structures option) from 1989 and have found that the courses through CGEP have the same high quality as those taken in a traditional, on campus, format.

The professors in the CGEP have been very cooperative as far as returning emailed questions in a timely fashion. I usually receive a detailed answer within 24 hours after submitting a question. In many cases, professors have office hours that allow me to converse with them real time via telephone. This is a tremendous help.

I currently teach full-time at Virginia Western in the engineering transfer program and hope to start developing compressed video classes similar in format to those offered through CGEP. I hope to continue with CGEP, eventually earning a Master's of Engineering in Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering

Susan Donohue, Graduate (attended classes at Virginia Commonwealth University):

I was investigating master's programs in 1996, trying to find a program where I could develop my interest in quality studies, when I discovered CGEP. Everyone with whom I spoke, whether it was at VCU, my first point of contact, or at the participating universities, was very informative and supportive. I hadn't considered engineering studies as a way to gain the knowledge I wanted; as it turned out, studying systems engineering was one of the best choices I've made. CGEP was a perfect fit for me; I could attend a prestigious program at a prestigious university without disruption in my business and personal life. CGEP caters to the non-traditional student, which meant that I wasn't the only mid-life student attending classes, nor the only student with a full-time job. I believe that having a mix of the traditional and non-traditional students in class provided an enriched experience for everyone. I treasure the friendships I made during my studies, and am appreciative of the excellent education I received.

I enjoyed my CGEP experience so much that I decided to apply for Ph.D. studies in my program, Systems and Information Engineering. I've enjoyed those studies as well. I've been able to develop my research and academic skills further, and have had the opportunity to exercise the skills learned during my years in teaching and industry. My studies and my skill set compliment each other very well. I'd like to remain in the educational sector after completing my degree. I've been a free-lance technical writer, editor, and consultant for almost a decade. That position has given me the ability to set my schedule to accommodate my studies and the means by which to fund the studies. I recognize I've been blessed with such a position. I also believe that “giving back” is the best way to acknowledge a blessing. I would appreciate the chance to pass my knowledge, skills, and abilities on to others in a university setting.

Kenton Meland, Graduate (attended classes at the ODU Peninsula Center):

In 1982 , Kenton Meland became the first student in Tidewater to earn a M.S. through Virginia Tech's off-campus program (CGEP). He later pursued additional graduate studies from UVA, completing his M.E. in Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering through CGEP in 1993.

Mr. Meland has a long career at Northrup Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding where he is presently Manager of Aircraft Carrier Program Support. As such, he is responsible for engineering, subcontracting, workload and roll planning, and financial analysis.

About his experiences with CGEP Mr. Meland says, “I found the professors to be very professional and willing to work non-standard hours to accommodate their students. They were extremely well organized, and they handled the additional challenge of needing a ‘television presence' well. The professors were genuinely interested in feedback from the students as representatives of industry.

“When I started my first masters in 1985, I had to travel to either Richmond or Norfolk for courses, and the selection was very limited. When I was in my second program, the courses were available locally, and there was a much greater selection. There were numerous benefits in pursuing graduate coursework while working since I could continue my career without interruption. Additionally, my company has a generous tuition reimbursement program making the degree programs very affordable.”

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