Expanding his Skill Set: Degree Equips Alum to Become Better Project Manager

Michael Addis (MEng’15) said that the most critical lesson he learned while working toward his degree in project management at University of Maryland was to manage himself. “As intuitive as it sounds,” he said, “I learned how emotional intelligence and a person’s humanity is ultimately the most important skill in managing people. That’s a powerful lesson.”

Currently a project manager for a weather satellite at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Michael’s main role is to manage the work between the company building a satellite and the Navy Research Laboratory. He is tasked with tracking, controlling and collecting the data from the weather satellite post launch, which is slated for 2023. The best part about being a project manager is identifying and resolving issues with high impact,” he said.  “I seek those high ROI areas as puzzle pieces.”

The advantages of his graduate school training have been numerous. “It bought me two years of time with professors who have a cumulative sum of over 100 years of hard-earned project management experience,” he explained. “Being able to tap into the minds of people with the wealth of experience that the UMD project management professors have has been extremely meaningful.”

Michael recalled that he was beginning his own research project as he began the project management program. “I was able to apply what I was learning immediately in my real life,” he said. “The practical utility of the classes was vital!”

The classes were challenging for him. “The density of information in some of the courses felt a little overwhelming at times, but it was actually an important lesson,” he explained. “That taught me how to traverse those feelings of being overwhelmed, which are actually pretty common when you start a new project.”

Each professor, says Michael, gave him something valuable. “Professor Jocelyn Davis was particularly incredible in how she created waves in the classroom and channeled that energy to create a deeper learning experience for each student.”

Creating that energy in students inspired Michael and a few of his friends to start a summer camp that provides kids with fun activities related to STEM topics. The camp, called BeSTEM!! Summer Camp, offers full immersion camps designed to create an authentic engineering experience. “The goal was to create an environment where campers could see how science and math are used to make decisions about engineering design elements while simultaneously meeting the requirements of the problem,” he said.  See article about the BeSTEM! Summer Camp.

Campers at BeSTEM Summer Camp, Summer 2019.

Michael Addis (far right) with BeSTEM co-founders Omari Sarjeant (center) and Jurgen Tabaku (far left). 

Expanding his skill set in project management and acquiring his master’s degree has been an advantage both personally and professionally. “For anyone else who’s thinking about enrolling in UMD’s Project Management program, I’d definitely tell them to do it,” he said.

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About Michael Addis

Job

Project Manager

Organization

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

Program

Master of Engineering (MEng)

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