Engineered for Success Master's degree propels Wood to new heights

By Wes McKinzie (98)

“Diligent discipline and a lot of caffeine.”

That’s what got James Wood through OC’s Master of Science in Engineering program.

And that MSE degree in engineering management, earned in 2015, helped get him a promotion … plus recognition as “Engineer of the Year” at Tinker Air Force Base.

“Getting a master’s degree has become almost mandatory to move past a certain point in your career,” said James, now Tinker’s lead avionics engineer on the B-2 Bomber. “It helped me reengage some of those skills I hadn’t touched in a while. It helped me do better and understand more. And frankly, having the degree means something. It gave me that extra edge.”

James is a double graduate of Oklahoma Christian; he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1995. But after almost 20 years in the industry, James realized he’d benefit from a return to the classroom.

The benefits of OC’s small class sizes and the rhythm of eight-week classes helped James as he navigated through the MSE program. OC’s night class format, uncommon for graduate engineering programs, was crucial in helping him balance school, work, and family obligations.

He also loved the personal touch of regular access to his professors - the ability to email, call, or drop by the office to get questions answered.

“Whenever you’re trying to get something done, you want to be able to talk to someone,” James said. “It was nice being able to do that.”

James said three classes in particular nail what he’s doing at Tinker, and gave him the tools to solve everyday problems - Systems Engineering, Systems Management, and Failure Analysis.

And in the final analysis, James says getting an MSE degree is a no-brainer for engineers who want to succeed.

“I’ve been approached by students who want to know whether they should go to work after they get their undergrad or keep going and pursue their master’s degree,” James said. “It isn’t an easy decision to make, but I really recommend you go for the master’s now. It will make a difference in your career path overall and help you reach goals you may not know you have. Most people get to the point where they wish they had done it. Do it now.”

Spring 2017

View more stories from the Spring 2017 issue of Vision magazine.