Exciting Changes for EMDC

Director Shelley Finnigan reveals updates to the EMDC program that will begin with this fall's cohort of students.

Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Science in Executive Management for Design and Construction (EMDC) program is being enhanced, beginning with this fall's new cohort of students. 

EMDC director Shelley Finnigan is excited to shift the program from a fully online experience to a hybrid model that will maintain an online emphasis and also include unique opportunities for students to collaborate in person.  

The in-person experiences will foster teamwork and collaboration in an industry that can often be siloed, Finnigan said. The goal is to enable professionals from the variety of specialized companies that comprise the built environment sector to learn from their counterparts in related fields.  

“One of the intentions is to give the students a laboratory where they can explore team dynamics to learn what works and doesn't work in their own management practices,” Finnigan said. “We're creating a space where people talk about unique business practices across the built environment sector and how we can operate better as an industry by recognizing what challenges each area faces.”  

The structure of the in-person sessions is under refinement, but Finnigan is excited to leverage a wider network of leaders in the built environment sector to lead the sessions, which will take effect during the 2024-25 school year. Finnigan has already spoken with a number of industry-leading executives who are eager to contribute to the sessions. 

The EMDC program will also be condensed from a six-quarter program to one that can be completed in four. Each quarter, students will have virtual lessons and online work to complete, as well as one weekend on campus.  

While fostering greater collaboration is the main goal, there are ancillary benefits, Finnigan said. She pointed to studies that show that there is value in promoting group formation and team building through in-person meetings. For EMDC students, that value can translate to stronger bonds, which are precursors to a stronger alumni network and the potential for greater success and visibility of the program moving forward.  

The EMDC cohort will remain small, with Finnigan expecting a group of between 20 to 25 students. The application for the 2024-25 cohort is open.

The EMDC program is designed for professionals with more than eight years of progressive experience in the design and construction fields. The mission is to turn aspiring executives into senior leaders in the industry.

Finnigan said the changes to the program further align it to be an ideal option for those looking for an executive education program tailored specifically to the built environment.  

“The content of these courses is designed for people in the built environment sector,” Finnigan said. “It's going to get deep enough that they develop the knowledge they need to be successful leaders not just on projects but also in their companies.” 

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