George Wrenn has accelerated his career with knowledge and experience gained at MIT’s Advanced Study Program (ASP). The cybersecurity expert and vice president of a global energy management and automation company regularly immerses himself in the program, which allows working professionals to tap into MIT’s full course catalog in pursuit of academic and professional goals.
Wrenn has been an ASP Fellow at MIT since 2001. Over the past 15 years he has taken 11 semester-long courses, expanding his knowledge in various areas of technology and business through doctoral-level studies and directed-research projects with faculty at the Media Lab and the Sloan School of Management.
“It was very intense,“ Wrenn said of his first several semesters as an ASP Fellow. “As someone who was working while taking classes at MIT, I could really apply what I was learning one day into the next day at work. It really had a lot of parallels.“
Wrenn relished the opportunity to work on “real projects” such as development of new product strategies. He fondly recalled a product design and development course at the Sloan School in which he and his fellow students researched accessories for a future Cadillac model through a General Motors-sponsored project. At the time, Wrenn was working for a financial services firm that was in the midst of a new product development life cycle.
“It worked out very well,“ Wrenn says. “I was able to help our executive team with best practices and connect them with the academic expertise of MIT. We also had access to Sloan graduates who were expert in new product development.“
More recently, Wrenn challenged himself intellectually in a security studies course with political science Professor Barry Posen. The students were tasked with reading and analyzing 13 tomes on military strategy and theory in 12 weeks. “It was critical to understand foundational security theory in order to frame cyber warfare in the proper context and better protect critical infrastructure in light of recent cyber attacks.”
Wrenn considers himself a lifelong learner – a lifelong student, in fact, given his near-continuous connection to MIT academics and his adherence to the school’s “Mens et Manus“ (mind and hand) motto.
“MIT really excels in this area of practical application of theories,“ Wrenn said. “Not all schools provide that. A lot (of them) will provide the theory and then leave it up to you to figure out the application. MIT really demands that you understand the application and the implications of that knowledge.“
Wrenn added, “It’s a very interactive, dynamic educational environment. I like it so much that I have stayed with the ASP Program for 15 years!“