"I was getting the itch to go back to school."

Only two years out of school, Jeremy Hochstedler felt academia calling him once again. Already equipped with B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering, Hochstedler wanted to broaden his educational knowledge and learn tools that he might not have picked up at work. He also hoped additional learning would help position him for future leadership opportunities within his company, Raytheon Corporation, where he is a lead hardware engineer. Searching the Web for online degree programs, he found several of interest, including Stanford's Management Science and Engineering program. He decided on Stanford. "Stanford's MS&E program came out on top for a variety of reasons including its flexibility, course delivery, organization, and prestige."

Hochstedler liked that Stanford's program allowed him the option of trying out classes in the non-degree option (NDO) without committing to more. "Once I commit to something, I expect to finish it," he says, "so whichever degree I started to pursue I wanted to be proud when I finished." With Stanford's program, he could start taking classes immediately. If he was accepted to the master's program, he could apply the NDO credits to his masters.

All it took was one class to convince him that he had come to the right place. "I was a bit skeptical of distance education," he says. "However, one class in, and I was sold." This first class: MS&E 249 - Economic Growth & Development, was taught by Professor de La Grandville. Hochstedler calls the class "an outstanding class on economic growth theory" and says that Professor de la Grandville did an excellent job conveying course material, answering questions and inspiring thought. "He pushed me to want to learn more," says Hochstedler. The class also proved to him how easily he could learn technical, mathematical, and theoretical concepts via distance education. "When viewing the course videos," he says, "I felt like I was sitting in the back of the classroom."

Hochstedler was accepted to Stanford's master's degree program and is in the process of completing the requirements for his degree. While he loves his classes, it does take discipline to study at a distance. Especially given his already full plate. In addition to working full-time at Raytheon, Hochstedler coaches a local high school baseball team and volunteers in his community. What's more, he's a dedicated family man - sharing his life with a loving wife and a one-year-old son. He finds that the best time to complete most of his coursework is in the evenings, once his son is in bed, occasionally working on bigger projects over the weekends as needed. In addition to support from his wife, he finds help through his fellow classmates, many of who provide a wide array of their own diverse learning experiences through industry, and through Stanford. "Stanford does a great job of facilitating collaboration among distance learners."

Raytheon has provided support both with encouragement and tuition assistance. Hochstedler lauds Raytheon as an excellent place to launch one's career. In less than three years with the company he has been involved in research and development, engineering design, modeling and simulation, production processes, and supplier surveillance. He has pulled concepts from his Stanford classes on many occasions. Occasionally his supervisor asks, "Did you learn that in one of your classes?" Usually, the answer is "yes." "When it comes to decision analysis techniques and organizational behavior and structure," Hochstedler says, "I have picked up the knowledge from Stanford. I couldn't be happier with this education and look forward to the remainder of my degree."

In the short term Hochstedler's goal is to become a technical leader within Raytheon and continue to increase his responsibilities. Long term, he wants to be either a senior technology leader within a high tech company or teach at the collegiate level. "Stanford's program is absolutely helping me in my pursuit of these goals," he says. "The program is arming me with the knowledge and tools to be a successful technical leader."