Navy veteran boosts his career in nuclear energy with engineering management master’s degree

Master of Engineering: Engineering Management

After more than 20 years in engineering, Dave Pearson started feeling stagnant in his career. He wanted to advance his education while maintaining work/family balance. Pearson decided to pursue a Master of Engineering: Engineering Management (MEM) (Now called: Master of Science in Engineering Management) degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and he’s glad that he did.

“This online program is geared for the real-world engineer with a relatively busy life,” said Pearson, a veteran who served as a nuclear reactor operator and electronics technician for six years with the Navy. “My career path has changed significantly as a direct result of this program.”

Master of Engineering: Engineering Management
Dave Pearson was impressed with the quality of the MEM program, the faculty, and his fellow students.

Shortly after completing MEM in 2014, Pearson accepted a new position in Dominion Energy’s corporate office. He’s the course designer, instructor, technologist, and administrator for their nuclear training department, responsible for meeting the training needs of 150 engineers.

The MEM program provides an MBA-style education in the business of engineering. It’s geared toward engineers ready for leadership positions or leaders looking to strengthen their effectiveness. Working professionals can stay in their jobs while earning the degree online, along with optional, brief residencies on the UW–Madison campus over two summers.

The program offers engaging and applications-focused learning from senior faculty who have broad industry experience and strong academic credentials. Students learn to analyze corporate financial data, build leadership and communications skills, and synthesize information to make sound engineering and business decisions.

Prestigious, practical program

Pearson was already a Badger. He graduated from UW–Madison in 1997 with a degree in Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics.

“I wanted an excuse to come back to Madison, and more importantly, the UW–Madison online engineering graduate programs were rated very highly,” he said. “I was confident they would do it right.”

Pearson was impressed with the quality of the program, the faculty, and his fellow students.

“The instructors were second to none. They took time to know the students,” Pearson said. “They promoted learning from each other while providing the facilitation required to ensure we did not veer off track.”

Pearson said his MEM experience allowed him to keep his job, continue to be engaged with his family, and apply new knowledge to better his career at Dominion Energy. Headquartered in Richmond, Va., Dominion is one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy. Pearson’s been using the tools from MEM to make positive changes to the Dominion training program, to develop a better working relationship with engineering leaders, and to manage various projects across their nuclear fleet.

Pearson has recommended the program to people because of the focus on application of knowledge and the flexibility.

“Because the program tries to make the education part of one’s career, it is very possible for work and school to take place at the same time,” he said.

Read more about the Master of Engineering: Engineering Management program.