"I view education as a continuum that doesn't just end when the certificate or the degree is finished; it is a continuing journey and process."
As a manufacturing engineer at Sun Microsystems, Brett Ong handles the mechanical design process of Sun computer chassis. Ong's work frequently requires him to fly to China and Taiwan where the chassis are manufactured. Despite his busy schedule and international travel, Ong still manages to find time to take Stanford courses. "I remember watching part of an Advanced Project Management course from my hotel room in Shanghai," Says Ong. "I've watched Stanford courses from all over the world."
Ong is a life-long learner who has taken numerous courses through the Stanford Center for Professional Development. While working, he has earned a MS degree in Management Science and Engineering, a graduate certificate in Product Creation and Innovative Manufacturing, and is a Stanford Certified Project Manager.
"I've continued to study and take Stanford courses because the curriculum is always evolving and it has nicely aligned with my needs and interests as they've developed," explains Ong. "For example, I started out earning my MS degree in electrical engineering, but then stumbled upon management science and engineering courses and realized they were perfectly in tune with my goals and interests. I continue to find Stanford courses that interest and excite me." Ong's most recent accomplishment is becoming a Stanford Certified Project Manager. "The Stanford Advanced Project Management program is an excellent alternative to all the other project management programs out there because it goes beyond the technical," Ong says. "I didn't need to learn about Gantt charts or specific processes. Good education is more training of the mind and not necessarily learning a specific skill. The program taught me about project management theories and I've internalized the concepts and now use them intrinsically."
When asked about what it's like to study while working, Ong explains, "When you are taking classes while you work, you apply the information immediately. You learn something in class and you relate it to what you're doing in the office. You're constantly drawing the connections." Ong also enjoyed the mix of industry students and full-time graduate students. "I always loved the project work because I got to interact with the other students. It was great working with the full-time graduate students who haven't worked yet because they have real energy and enthusiasm and it's very inspirational," says Ong. "I also enjoyed interacting with people from other industries and getting lots of different perspectives." Ong plans to continue to take Stanford courses. His next endeavor is the Strategic Decision and Risk Management program. "The Stanford courses have continually impacted my life and the way I think," he says. "Some of the professors are really tough, but you come through it all with such a sense of accomplishment."