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NPS Launches New Certificate Program in Implementing Technological Change

30 July 2021

From Matthew Schehl, Naval Postgraduate School Office of University Communications

MONTEREY, Calif. - The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) just took a big step forward in cultivating leaders’ ability to bring emerging technologies to the Fleet.

The university launched a new certificate program called “Implementing Technological Change” this academic quarter to hone the essential skillsets necessary for technology professionals to spearhead policy development and drive organizational change. With an emphasis on empowering leaders, the certification seeks to synchronize intellectual, communication and policy skills with complex technological change.

“Developing, educating and managing talent for the emerging technology and cyber workforce are foundational themes in the Secretary of the Navy’s [strategic] documents and planning, but the impact of that investment depends on technology professionals also having the skillsets to communicate, strategize, and lead from those domains,” noted Dr. Britta Hale, an assistant professor in the NPS Department of Computer Science, and architect of the new certification. “NPS is stepping ahead of this challenge, empowering technological leaders and not just technologists.”

In an era defined by the rapid technological advances and emerging capabilities of our peer adversaries, an aggressive technological and cyberspace response is paramount. In this, the capacity to bring not only “beans and bullets” but intellectual capital to bear will be the deciding factor in maintaining the strategic advantage of the United States.

NPS’ Implementing Technological Change certificate furthers this by inculcating students’ ability to advocate their highly-specialized knowledge to a wide audience, both up and down decision-making ladders.

“NPS has a stellar track record for designing, analyzing and customizing innovative technological solutions for the DOD in all domains, and in the current era that extends to topics such as cyber, artificial intelligence and space systems,” said Hale. “However, the value of developing know-how is neutralized if there is no transition for effect. Impact requires not only knowledge but effective communication and domain-customized leadership.”

To help achieve this, the new certificate program requires two core courses: Communication for Managers (GB3012) and a new course – Advocating Emerging Technologies (CS4926). This new course offering allows for a deeper dive into effectively communicating subject matter expertise in a way that is immediately accessible to a non-technical audience.

Additionally, two elective courses are required from Cyber Policy and Strategy (CY4410), Innovation Leadership (CS4925), Militaries and Technological Change (DA4101) as well as either Managing Planned Change in Complex Organizations (MN4125) or Management of Change (GB4015).

Taken together, the certificate program is truly multi-disciplinary in nature and intentionally designed to support students of any technological discipline. The need for this stemmed from witnessing a student struggle to explain his work to a professor from outside his discipline, Hale explained.

“The student gave a very nice and authoritative presentation, but it was ineffective: the professor clearly had no idea why he, or the DON, should care about it,” she said. “Meanwhile, as someone familiar with the quality and consequences of the student’s research, I would have advocated it to the highest levels for mandated reading. It was that important. It had the potential to have a critical impact on the cybersecurity posture of the DOD.”

The fact that the presentation didn’t have the intended results was based not on the quality or potential impact of the science, Hale stressed, but simply on how it was conveyed.

She began to observe students – and warfare center professionals – with this potential problem in mind. Time and again she watched them dedicate all their effort to advancing technology, but only to face pushback on technological change, and in some cases, even disregard.

From this, Hale developed the Advocating Technological Change course and later combined efforts with strategy and leadership faculty to formalize the Implementing Technological Change certificate. In all, the process took nearly a year to ensure that the right topics and coverage, as well as study flexibility for students, could be achieved.

“We provide the Navy not just with talent, but actionable talent,” said Hale.

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