"The best thing about Stanford is the people; they inspire me to push myself harder and aim for the next rung in the ladder of success."

Over ten thousand miles away, Partha Murali is pursuing a master of science degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. "Studying at a distance can be extremely challenging, especially since I am in a completely different time zone," explains Murali. "Thankfully, the courses I am taking online at Stanford directly relate to the work I am doing at my job, and therefore, I have a strong grasp of the material."

Murali works full-time for Redpine Signals Inc., a semiconductor company that specializes in wireless convergence products. Murali, a project leader, works at the company's research and development center located in Hyderabad, India, where he manages a team of bright, young engineers. "Redpine Signals is very supportive of my decision to pursue a degree from Stanford on a part-time basis," says Murali, "They strongly believe that career development, while being actively involved in work, is the largest contributor to employee satisfaction. Plus, a lot of the research being done in my field is a collaborative effort between industry and universities, making education a crucial component."

When asked about why he decided to study at Stanford, a university located across the globe, Murali explains, "I love the entrepreneurial spirit at Stanford and the large amount of industry links; aspects that I believe put Stanford far ahead of any other university. The course content, the faculty, and the research facilities are also superior."

Since he began pursuing his degree at Stanford, Murali has noticed a definite change in the work he produces for Redpine Signals. "The quantity of the work I am able to produce has decreased slightly because I'm not able to work as many weekends, but the quality has improved. It is refreshing to learn new things and this reflects positively in my work, especially since all of my coursework directly relates to the projects I'm working at on the job." Murali's advice for anyone considering pursuing a graduate degree from Stanford at a distance: "Earning the degree should be your dream. You won't be successful if it's a half-hearted attempt."

Update: in 2011, Partha Murali fulfilled his dream of earning a Stanford master's degree in electrical engineering.