Online Student Spotlight: Keyshawn Phelps

Keyshawn Phelps master's in systems engineering student at Stevens Institute of Technology

Currently a Systems Engineer at Northrop Grumman, Keyshawn Phelps is pursuing his master's degree in systems engineering through our Corporate Education program.

Why were you interested in pursuing an online degree?

I decided to pursue an online Systems Engineering master's degree for a myriad reason. First, the flexibility of online programs was a big factor. It meant I could manage my studies alongside my job duties and commitments more easily. Plus, with online education, I didn't have to worry about where I lived – I could access quality education from anywhere. An online degree at this magnitude can open more career opportunities for me in the engineering field. By focusing on Systems Engineering, I could learn valuable skills and knowledge that could be applied to my current position, making me a great asset to my team and company.

How did you learn about Stevens?

I was born and raised in Newark, NJ. During my sixth-grade year, I had the privilege of being a part of an after-school robotics Lego club where we constructed and programmed a Lego boat to navigate an obstacle course for a competition. Remarkably, this competition took place at the esteemed Stevens Institute of Technology campus. Although my team and I secured a respectable third-place position, it ignited a profound interest in engineering within me. I remember returning home that day, and when my mother asked about the event, I responded with unwavering determination, stating, 'If I don't pursue a career in sports, I will attend Steven's to study engineering.'

Briefly describe why you chose the Systems Engineering program?

I chose the Systems Engineering program because it offered a blend of practical skills and academic knowledge that I believed would greatly enhance my career. The multidisciplinary nature of Systems Engineering appealed to me, as it allowed me to explore various aspects of engineering while also developing strong problem-solving and project management abilities. Additionally, the program's focus on systems architecture and optimization aligned well with my interests and career goals, making it an ideal choice for my professional development.

What made you choose Stevens over other schools?

Growing up in Newark, NJ, I've always been surrounded by talks of great academic institutions, and Stevens Institute of Technology was no exception. Its reputation for excellence in engineering was well-known in my community. Choosing Stevens over other schools felt like a natural decision for me because of its strong academic standing and would be a full circle moment for me.

While circumstances did not align for me to pursue my undergraduate studies at Steven's, fast-forward to the present, I had an opportunity to make that dream come true and when the opportunity arose like this I didn’t hesitate. Knowing that I could receive a top-notch education while fulfilling a dream of mine was a significant factor in my decision. Additionally, Stevens' faculty expertise, industry connections, and flexible online learning options made it the perfect choice for me to pursue my Systems Engineering master's degree.

What is the demand for someone with your new skills and education?

The demand for individuals with skills and education in Systems Engineering is consistently high and continues to grow across various industries. Systems Engineers play a crucial role in designing, optimizing, and managing complex systems and processes, making them highly sought after by companies seeking to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and innovate, in fields such as aerospace, defense, automotive, healthcare, telecommunications, and information technology.

How has the program's flexibility been beneficial to your career and lifestyle?

The Program's Flexibility has been super beneficial because it allowed me to balance my everyday job duties and personal commitments. The online format has allowed me to connect with a diverse cohort of fellow company employees from different locations and backgrounds. This exposure to varied perspectives and experiences has enriched my learning experience and expanded my professional network, opening up new opportunities for collaboration and career growth.

What surprised you the most about your online experience?

One of the most surprising aspects of my online experience was the level of engagement and interaction that I was able to achieve despite the virtual format. Initially, I had some concerns about feeling isolated or disconnected from my professors and peers. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how interactive and collaborative the online learning environment turned out to be.

Through video lectures, live discussions, virtual group projects, and online forums, I found ample opportunities to actively participate in class discussions, seek clarification on concepts, and collaborate with classmates on assignments. The use of various digital tools and platforms facilitated seamless communication and collaboration, allowing me to build meaningful connections with my peers and instructors. Additionally, I was surprised by the level of support and accessibility provided by the faculty and support staff. Despite the physical distance, I always felt supported and valued as a student. Whether it was through virtual office hours, email correspondence, or online resources, I found that the faculty and staff were readily available to assist me whenever needed. Overall, the level of engagement, interaction, and support I experienced in my online learning journey exceeded my expectations and dispelled any doubts.

What would you tell someone who is considering an online degree at Stevens both as someone who is working at your company and then someone outside of your company that you know on a personal level?

Yes, I would eagerly recommend Stevens Institute of Technology to both my friends and colleagues at my company. In fact, I have already successfully recruited individuals from my company who are currently pursuing their master's degrees at Stevens.

Would you like to share anything else about your time in the program?

I am profoundly grateful to Stevens Institute of Technology for the wealth of knowledge gained, the invaluable connections made, and the unforgettable memories created during this transformative journey. It has been an honor to be part of such a dynamic and nurturing community, earning my master's degree from a prestigious institution. I am excited to apply the lessons learned and the skills acquired as I embark on the next chapters of my career.