‘Experience and education are unstoppable’
By Julie Stricker
In the early 1970s, Charlie Dexter was ready to drop out of college when his dad gave him some advice.
“Stay in and get a degree because you never
know when the perfect job will come up, and
if you don’t have the parchment, you can’t
get it,” Dexter recalls his father telling him.
Now a professor emeritus of applied business
at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Community and Technical College, Dexter says,
“I would not be where I am today if I didn’t
have my MBA degree.”
Education Builds Careers
While starting a business doesn’t require a
degree, an MBA is a necessity for moving up
in the corporate world, Dexter says. The University of Alaska is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and students can get degrees at both the
Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses. Most
courses are available online, which provides
more opportunities for those already working
who are looking to expand their education.
“From my vantage point as a community
college teacher, the best way to do it is to
get a bachelor’s degree in whatever interests
you, then go back and get the MBA on top
of that,” he says. “If someone is an engineer,
they would be very smart to go back and pick
up a graduate business degree on top of their
engineering degree. I would not be where I
am today if it wasn’t for my bachelor’s degree
in tourism and my MBA.”
Today, thanks to online courses, anyone
can find classes to keep up their accreditation or learn a new skill, but local education
entities such as University of Alaska also offer opportunities for continuing education.
Packet Networks for Industry
Professionals at UAA
The University of Alaska also offers several un-
dergraduate and graduate programs designed
to offer training for real-world business needs.
For example, the University of Alaska Anchor-
age (UAA) is setting up a professional devel-
opment course for network and information
technology professionals, according to Terrie
Gottstein, special projects officer with the UAA
College of Engineering. At the University of
Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), the School of Manage-
ment offers a degree in emergency and disaster
management tailored to the needs of business in
a global landscape that sometimes includes nat-
ural disasters, potential pandemics, and terror-
ism. Both programs are aimed at working pro-
fessionals as well as more traditional students.
UAA’s Packet Networks for Industry Professionals is a collaboration between business and
the university, Gottstein says. It came about
because Mark Ayers, a GCI engineer and adjunct professor in UAA’s Computer Science
and Computer Systems Engineering Department, recognized a need for formal education
in today’s network systems. The class will focus
on computer network engineering and design,
a big-picture look at today’s network systems.
“There’s a lot of electrical engineers and
working IT professionals that need this
training to help them do their actual jobs be-
cause technology has advanced so quickly,”
Gottstein says. “It’s not just GCI and Alaska
Communications and telecommunications
companies: things like computer networks
are in banks and hospitals. Just about every-
body in business now has major computer
networks and IT professionals.”
Ayers says he’s been thinking about the need
for a class that gives a broad perspective on the
intersection of technology and engineering.
“I’m an engineer by education,” he says.
“One of the places I continue to see a lack
of depth in both academic and industry re-
sources is this field. You have people who go
into computer science, who have IT experi-
ence from a computer science perspective,
who may have a missing piece of information
and lack the academic background to put it all
together. [This course] really ties everything
together in my mind. It’s so critical to every-
thing we do anymore. You can’t have any kind
of business without a network connection.”
Packet networks are widely used in larger
companies, including utilities and health-
related industries, Ayers says.
The course is focused on industry profes-
sionals and will meet twice weekly this fall
during the lunch hour; its structure is still be-
ing worked out, he says. “We’ve discussed vid-
eo delivery and having it live-streamed, which
is really appealing to me. It would be appealing
to people who didn’t want to get into their car
and drive across town. They could sit at their
desk and eat their lunch and still participate.
“You could also market it to rural areas where
it’s not cost-effective to fly someone out there.”
It will count as continuing education cred-
it, which may be required for professionals in
fields such as electrical engineering.
Gottstein says the course is a new direction for UAA.
“The exciting thing about it is people think
of UAA for undergraduate degrees,” she says.
“This is something that came out of an industry need and the College of Engineering
is helping to meet that need.”
Security and Emergency
Management at UAF
Real-world applications are behind the UAF
School of Management’s bachelor’s degree
program in Homeland Security and Emergency Management and Master of Security and Disaster Management, according to
program director Cameron Carlson. He is a
former combat medic and EMT who served
as an Army infantry officer in the Middle
East, Africa, Europe, Haiti, and Central Asia.
Other faculty members are police officers,
firefighters, military veterans, or have experience with government agencies in homeland
defense and emergency management. UAF is
the only university that offers homeland security and emergency management through its
business school, Carlson says.
“There’s a lot of electrical engineers and working IT
professionals that need this training to help them do their
actual jobs because technology has advanced so quickly. It’s not
just GCI and Alaska Communications and telecommunications
companies: things like computer networks are in banks and
hospitals. Just about everybody in business now has major
computer networks and IT professionals.”
—Terrie Gottstein, Special Projects Officer
UAA College of Engineering, University of Alaska Fairbanks