Master of Infrastructure Planning
and Management (MIPM)
A Distance Learning Program
Qing Shen
Department of Urban Design and Planning
University of Washington, Seattle
[email protected]
ACSP Administrators Conference, Columbus, 11/15/2013
I. Introduction to the MIPM Program
II. What Makes the Program Viable?
III. What Are the Challenges?
I. Introduction to the MIPM Program
II. What Makes the Program Viable?
III. What Are the Challenges?
The Predecessor: The MSPCI Program
After 9/11, Professor Hilda Blanco led the effort to
create the Master in Strategic Planning for Critical
Infrastructure (MSPCI), an online program focusing on
the protection of critical infrastructure
2004: First class
Partnership agreement with the Washington National
Guard did not materialize; enrollments fell
2008: Change in department/program leadership
2009: Graduate School review; program on hiatus
Creation of the MIPM Program
Autumn 2009: Review Committee recommended continuation
of MSPCI after a strategic planning effort to improve it.
Winter 2010: Department Chair and College Dean responded
to Review Committee report, expressing the wish to revive the
program; Chair appointed a strategic planning committee.
Spring 2010: Department faculty voted to support strategic
planning committee’s proposal for launching a new version of
the program; A curriculum committee was formed.
Autumn 2010: UW PCE conducted a questionnaire survey of
demand; Graduate School and UW Board of Regents approved
the revised and renamed MIPM program; MOA signed.
Autumn 2011: MIPM program was launched with an
enrollment of 30 students.
The MIPM Program
Mission and Curriculum
An online master degree program that provides
professionals with an understanding of infrastructure
systems and core skills required to ensure resiliency
of major infrastructures against both man-made and
natural disasters (climate change, terrorism, etc.)
The degree requires 45 quarterly credits (15 courses)
and takes two years to complete on a part-time basis
(2 courses per quarter).
Teaching and learning is done via Internet.
The MIPM Program
Mission and Curriculum (continued)
The curriculum consists of four sets of courses:
1. Four core courses introducing key concepts about
infrastructure, systems thinking, sustainability,
financial planning, and policy analysis.
2. Four methods courses—geospatial analysis,
epidemiology, emergency management, and business
continuity planning
3. Six systems courses (each student chooses five) on
key infrastructure systems (energy, water,
transportation, communications, and more)
4. Two capstone courses aimed at synthesizing and
applying knowledge to a real-world project
The MIPM Program
MIPM faculty consists of over a dozen experts in
diverse fields, including planning and policy
analysis, infrastructure finance, public health,
emergency management, transportation and
communications systems, and cybersecurity.
They are from 5 colleges at the University of
The MIPM Program
The program is designed for mid-career professionals;
virtually all students work full-time.
The program attracts public-sector planners, private
company employees, as well as military personnel and
About 75% of students are from the Pacific Northwest;
there are a few international students.
The program currently has about 40 students.
The MIPM Program
Students (continued)
In June 2013, first class of 21 students graduated.
Examples of capstone projects:
• Cloud Computing Considerations for Municipalities
• Formulation of Research Continuity Best Practices
• Virtual Planning for Disasters (focusing on medical
information management needs at hospitals)
• Incorporating Resiliency along the Seattle-Everett
Rail Corridor
Graduation ceremony with capstone presentations by the students:
Part 1:
Part 2:
I. Introduction to the MIPM Program
II. What Makes the Program Viable?
III. What Are the Challenges?
There is a real demand for the program (because of
its content and its flexible schedule).
It is not an online duplication of our MUP program;
rather, it captures a niche market.
(In some ways it is complementary with our existing
programs, e.g. MUP students are allowed to take
MIPM classes, and additional faculty can be
Faculty Resource and Curriculum
There are qualified faculty who can meet the demand
by designing and delivering a multi-disciplinary
In this case a large public research university shows its
comparative advantages, because the program faculty
are from many colleges and departments.
By filling a significant gap in pre-existing education
offerings, the program adds value to students and
Institutional Support and Leadership
There is institutional capacity for making financial
investment and managing financial risks.
e.g. PCE covered the initial costs of developing the
program and courses, and absorbed the financial
loss of the sunset program.
There is institutional capacity for market research,
program management, and technical support, so that
the program can take full advantage of distance
learning while minimizing its disadvantage.
Relevant administrators and faculty are committed
and devoted.
Schools and departments retain any net revenue after
expenses are covered.
In the case of MIPM, the Department achieved a
modest net revenue after two years. The funds are
used for faculty conference attendance and student
financial support.
Faculty are adequately compensated, or given an
equivalent relief from their regular teaching load, for
teaching MIPM classes.
I. Introduction to the MIPM Program
II. What Makes the Program Viable?
III. What Are the Challenges?
Remaining Challenges
Declining applications: Number of applicants
decreased from over 50 to fewer than 30; enrollment
dropped from 30 to 17.
Impact on faculty workload: MIPM program (initially)
draws from existing faculty for teaching and student
Weak social network and academic community for
students in MIPM program because it is a distance
learning program?
Department’s Responses
Greater efforts in recruiting students, such as marketing,
involving advisory board members in distributing program
information, and exploring partnerships with relevant
government agencies.
Developing specialization tracks to expand the market,
while generating economies of scale for the existing core
and methods courses.
Improving coordination and faculty resource allocation
among programs in the Department.
Encouraging MIPM students, especially those living in
Seattle metropolitan area, to participate in Department
I. Introduction to the MIPM Program
II. What Makes the Program Viable?
III. What Are the Challenges?