Mini-MBA at Rutgers

Beginning on Monday, September 29, the Piscataway campus will kick off an intensive 12-week mini-MBA program in pharmaceutical and associated biotechnology, dubbed “BioPharma Innovation.”

New Jersey’s position as the main home for the biopharma industry compelled the school to launch the new program, which is designed to enhance the business acumen of professionals in these fields. According to Abe Weiss, director of Center for Management Development (Rutgers’ continuing education arm), the program is tailored to professionals who are confronting serious industry issues ranging from layoffs and global competition to patent expiration and government regulation.

“The challenge for today’s pharmaceutical leaders is to develop new business models that address the needs of the industry and the needs of the overall health care system,” Weiss says. “We’re going to lift professionals out of their silos and expose them to the entire process, from drug discovery to commercialization.” The course will concentrate on strategic business decision-making, legal and regulatory issues, the industry in the global context, understanding the marketplace, supply-chain development, alliances and acquisitions, business ethics, and social responsibility.

The program will use a case study format to teach problem solving and allow students to analyze issues germane to the industry. Overall, says Weiss, the program is intended to teach innovative business models that promote sustainable revenue growth, stakeholder cooperation, and cost management.

The program is available to companies at their corporate locations, in addition to the Piscataway campus. Weekly modules are three hours long and graduates will receive a Mini-MBA certificate. They also will be eligible for a three-credit waiver for Rutgers Business School’s MBA program. For more information go to, call 732-445-5526, or

Locomotive Engineer and Conductor Training at MCCC

The most ambitious course at Mercer County College this fall is its locomotive engineer and conductor training certificate course, a primer for the in-demand (and highly demanding) field of train driving. Led by Mark Mattis, a trainer with NJ Transit, the course is designed to familiarize prospective engineers with the vast and complex set of rules and regulations needed to operate trains.

The eight-session course begins on Saturday, November 15, at Mercer’s West Windsor campus. Cost: $350. Mattis will be on hands at Mercer’s “Back to School Night for Adults” on Thursday, August 14, at 5 p.m. to answer questions about the course.

To become a licensed engineer takes about 800 hours of study over two years, Mattis says. And a major trouble that railroads across the country have had is the fall-off rate of trainees. The field draws applicants because it is one of the few avenues left in which a high school graduate can make $65,000 to $100,000 a year, but getting through training involves a lot of memorization. There are 900 miles of track in New Jersey alone, and conductors have to know all the speed limits (there are no signs) and the degrees at which the tracks bend. Training also takes a head for science, math, and navigation, which is why the field draws a number of ex-pilots, but to most, “it’s like reading Greek,” Mattis says.

Even those who have been through military training are often shaken by conductor training. “I’ve had guys who’ve been through Marine Corps boot camp who say this is tougher,” Mattis says. Even those who manage to finish the training (about 64 percent of applicants) are sometimes unaware of the lifestyle engineering requires. Schedules are erratic, you’re on three-hour call at all times, and you could be assigned to any of those 900 miles at any time. And in the post 9/11 world, there is a great deal of ever-changing security that all engineers and mechanics need to know about. “It’s not for everybody,” Mattis says. But the benefits are tremendous — good money and job security.

Nancy Nicholson, coordinator for community education at Mercer’s College of Continuing Studies, says the school wants to entice trainees but also wants people to know the course is not a lark. “It takes a lot of stamina,” Nicholson says. But this course opens the field not just for NJ Transit, but for 600-plus railroad companies in the United States.

Nicholson says the college became interested in the course because it fits the school’s requirements for providing education for practical jobs and because the timing is right. Amid the gas crisis, more people are turning to public transit, generating a growth in demand for engineers. Mattis adds that major freight lines like CSX are building hundreds of miles of track around the country. “Nationally, there’s a need for conductors” he says.

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