The Van Wickle Gates opened on Sunday as 22 executives and professionals convened as the inaugural cohort in the 16-month joint School of Engineering and School of Professional Studies program.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] —At the foot of Brown’s celebrated Van Wickle Gates, 22 students from a breadth of engineering, science and technology backgrounds gathered on Sunday, March 5, as part of the first cohort in the University’s new Executive Master in Science and Technology Leadership (EMSTL) program.

The students processed through the gates during the inaugural convocation ceremony for the program — offered jointly by Brown’s School of Engineering and School of Professional Studies — which aims to prepare promising professionals to become global business leaders in science and technology.

Bringing a wide mix of professional experiences that range from Fortune 500 companies to startups and industries as varied as aerospace and defense to life sciences, the members of the Class of 2018 come to Brown from 11 different states, nine different nationalities, and possess an average of 15 years of experience, according to a class profile.

"EMSTL's innovative curriculum is derived from Brown's leadership in blending liberal arts education with science and technology," said Anubhav Tripathi, academic director for the program and a professor of engineering and medical sciences. "The faculty for this program are drawn from a range of disciplines at Brown and are deeply committed to delivering a transformative experience for this diverse group of professionals."

During their first weeklong, on-campus session in the 16-month accelerated study program, students will dive into coursework, hone leadership skills in coaching sessions, meet Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and learn from guest presenters including Brown alumni Robert G. Markey, a partner at Bain & Company; Frans Johansson, author of “The Medici Effect;” and Oscar Groomes, whose career highlights include CEO appointments at G.E. Rail Services and Almatis.

Although the EMSTL program often draws comparisons to MBA programs, Program Director Sandra Smith said this program is tailored for a different audience.

“In taking a hard look at what technical professionals require to move up in a career track, it turns out that what’s really missing is a set of perspectives and skills that we think the liberal arts is perfectly positioned to deliver,” Smith said.

The impetus for the program came more than three years ago from discussions among faculty, alumni and corporate advisors who saw a gap in the training of engineering professionals around the time, Smith said — they needed a more fully developed ability to lead people.

“Throughout these discussions, Brown was thought of as having a deep tradition in developing graduates who have these capacities to look at problems from multiple perspectives and broader strategic thinking,” Smith said. “That’s how the program idea was born.”

In addition to coursework, several distinctive components within the executive master’s program — including one-on-one executive coaching sessions, 360-degree assessments and an ongoing critical challenge project, where students will develop solutions to a real-world problem facing their industry — will propel students into careers as accomplished business leaders, Smith said.

Smith said that later in the program, students will travel to South Korea to learn from executives from Samsung, Hyundai and other high-profile companies. A visit to Pangyo Valley, often cited as Korea’s Silicon Valley, is also on the itinerary. The visit is part of a larger academic and experimental endeavor developed in partnership with Brown's partner institution Sungkyunkwan University.

“Ultimately, we want students from technical silos to ascend to roles where they are more responsible for leading others and the results of a business,” she added.

The new degree is one of four executive master’s programs offered via Brown’s School of Professional Studies and targeted to executives and professionals. The others include health care leadership, cybersecurity and the IE Brown executive MBA.