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Recommended Business Courses

Professional track students may want to choose MBA 504 to learn the basic fundamental of accounting and how to manage budgets. Although most physics students are quite familiar with data handling, and all MSI alumni certainly will be, the procedures and practices of budgeting and accounting may be quite unfamiliar. One needs to learn the terminology, as well as standard practices and their legal implications.

Students may also want to select MBA 506 to learn about group dynamics. It's often taken for granted that people work in groups and therefore necessarily know how to participate, lead, and otherwise manage their activities. This is simply not so. There are certain underlying features that make teams effective, that enable high-quality communication among team members and inspiring everything from cooperation to innovation.

A third choice might be MBA 574 to learn about project management. The scientific literature is written as if projects proceeded along a straight monotonic course toward the results communicated in an article. But anyone who has been part of a research group, and MSI students certainly will be, know that this is not what happens. In addition to laboratory setbacks, there are bureaucratic delays, financial issues, personnel changes, and a host of other problems that leaders need to manage. Planning and implementation of the plans are vital to success and the recipes for doing these things are not always intuitive.

Other possible choices are MBA 511 dealing with technological innovation and intellectual property issues, as well as the strategy for bringing ideas developed in a laboratory to the commercial product stage. Also, MBA 589 for umbrella information about coordinating all the myriad processes that constitute a business plan, and to assure that the organizations' capabilities can be translated into marketable products. Different courses may be available subject to approval.

A more general and broader course in the business area is taught in the Applied Math Department as AMS 441. The course explores the strategy and operations of globalized enterprises that either manufacture a product or provide a service. It integrates the practice of engineering with the operations of a global business whether it is product development, manufacture, financial measurements, ethical considerations or the use of the internet to facilitate rapid and efficient business communications. There is an emphasis on strategy developed from the mission statement, the financial objectives, and the action plan.

Students may want to take a journalism course, especially one that deals with news literacy and communicating science. News literacy is the ability to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports and news sources. Students today are bombarded with blogs, "tweets", rumors, gossip, opinion, punditry, hype, spin, bias, propaganda, and advertising, all of which are vying with journalism in their claims to be credible. Another possibility is the course on Communicating Science that addresses the process by which research becomes news, reporting on risk assessment, translating scientific jargon, and many other topics relevant to the interface between scientists and the media.