Silicon Valley Veteran

Silicon Valley Veteran, DEAN and CEO…Northeastern University-Silicon Valley

PK Agarwal chats with Positive Phil…Positive Podcast

Experiential learning has been adopted by primary, secondary, and higher education institutions across the nation and, in fact, the globe.

In as early as the 4th century B.C., Aristotle said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” This embodies the essence of experiential learning—that theory is not comprehensively understood until it is applied.

Since then, the concept of experiential learning, and the research supporting its benefits, have evolved. Through the 1960s and 1970s, many psychologists, sociologists, and educators dedicated resources to prove what we innately knew to be true: Doing is the best way to learn. Research results confirm this; children acquire knowledge most effectively when they have hands-on learning opportunities and experience facts within specific and structured contexts.

Coincidentally, our adult brains work the same way. That is why, for more than a century, Northeastern has infused experiential learning components into all curricula. The launch of Northeastern University—Silicon Valley in March 2015 is simply the next step in demonstrating the university’s long-standing commitment to experiential learning. Since announcing this hub, we have received several questions; below are some of the most frequently asked ones.

As the first in a series of educational hubs embedded directly in companies across the Bay Area, Northeastern University—Silicon Valley was conceived to educate more working professionals in the Silicon Valley region and beyond in science, technology, engineering, and math.

How is this hub different from what Northeastern has already been doing?

It is the first hub to be co-located with an entrepreneurial and widely respected industry partner, Integrated Device Technology, a company led by a Northeastern alum who understands the importance of facilitating real-world tech education in this region. Northeastern has 8,000 dedicated square feet and plans to serve as an incubator for top-tier talent, producing students with graduate degrees and certificates who have real-world, marketplace relevance.

What degrees are offered at the hub?

Students can choose from degree programs in growing fields related to the region’s powerful technology sector. Northeastern faculty members teach these courses online and in a hybrid model that integrates online and classroom learning. The first programs to be offered in a hybrid format are the master’s degree in engineering management and two certificates: one in in data science and one in leading and managing technical projects. Students can also choose from more than 100 online degree and certificate programs.

The hub lies on 8,000 dedicated square feet within IDT’s facilities. Students can choose from an online, on-campus, or hybrid format—whichever best suits their educational path and professional obligations. Students will partner with regional businesses to enhance the educational experience.

How will students benefit?

Students will work with learning experts and industry partners as part of an education model that is driven by cognitive science, informed by employers, and powered by experiential learning. Students have the added benefit of the university’s 220,000-plus local and international alumni who serve as resources for mentorship, corporate residencies, and career trajectory advice. In addition, students enrolled at Northeastern University—Silicon Valley will be able to bring their real-world work projects and challenges into the classroom to discuss and dissect with fellow students and industry-leading faculty members.

Why this matters: Silicon Valley and other tech-focused regions throughout the nation have significant needs for uniquely educated tech professionals. These companies—and the technology market as a whole—need professionals with real-world work experience and an education tailored to today’s challenges. At Northeastern University—Silicon Valley, we are dedicated to meeting these companies’ needs. P.K. Agarwal serves as the Dean and CEO of Northeastern University–Silicon Valley.

He also serves as the Chairman of Future 500, a Bay Area-based pioneer in the area of global sustainability. Formerly, he was the CEO of TiE Global, an organization dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship across 61 cities in 18 countries. Prior to TiE, P.K served as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Chief Technology Officer for the State of California. He has also been in executive and management roles with ACS (now Xerox), NIC Inc., and EDS (now HP).

PK (as he is famously known) helped pioneer the use of Internet in government and shaped the national and state policy in this area, dating back to Al Gore’s National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council in 1995. He had the unique distinction of having a U.S. national annual award named as the “P.K. Agarwal Award for Leadership in Electronic Government.” He also served as the president of the National Association of State CIOs and the National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council (ec3). He is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and an adjunct faculty at USC and USF.

PK is an alum of IIT Delhi and UC Berkeley. Explain the vision of Northeastern University’s Silicon Valley campus, why did the  Boston-based university decide to open a campus in Silicon Valley?

What are some of the most innovative programs your school offers?

For someone without a technology or technical background, how does Northeastern’s programs help them bridge the gaps?

You recently conducted a survey on the IoT and how education plays a role in it. What were your findings?

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