Fueling a Researcher and Entrepreneur

MIT Professional Education’s Advanced Study Program (ASP), which gives working professionals the opportunity to take virtually any class at MIT, bills itself as “self-directed.” It’s proven to be a perfect match for Ralph A. Rodriguez, a man who describes himself as “self-driven.”

Rodriguez has logged an unprecedented 20 consecutive semesters of diverse studies (and a 4.9 cumulative GPA) in the ASP program even as he’s started and run several companies, been awarded 11 patents with more pending, and served on multiple boards.

“I really appreciated that MIT Professional Education didn’t look at me and say, ‘you’re in computer science so that’s what you should study,’” recalls Rodriguez, whose background in information technology, communications, and software had led him to C-level positions at a number of publicly held tech companies. “My studies here have helped me become both a researcher and an entrepreneur, thinking simultaneously about intellectual property and what’s described in patent lingo as ‘reduction to practice,’ which is really about taking a novel idea, fleshing out a concept, and actually building it. It’s the MIT ‘mens et manus’ spirit, and it’s an understanding that helps develop unique concepts that create value.”

Adds Bhaskar Pant, Executive Director of MIT Professional Education, “In the 52 years of the ASP program, a diverse set of bright professionals from around the world have taken advantage of the program’s unique feature of allowing access to regular MIT courses without having to enroll in a degree program. Some have spent several semesters doing that, but Ralph stands alone as a quintessential “lifelong learner” in his record 20-semester association with us. We are so proud to have been able to play a continuing role in Ralph’s decades-long learning and entrepreneurial success.”