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NPS, AFIT Partner on Development of Cost Estimation Certificate Program

Three students, from left to right, Brad Ellis, Thomas Campus, and Joseph Edwards, are awarded certificates in cost estimating and analysis by NPS Senior Lecturer Greg Mislick, right, during a brief ceremony in late September.

A joint educational effort between the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) and the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) celebrated the completion its first cohort of students in the cost estimating and analysis certificate program.

Students completed a rigorous set of four cost courses from the institution’s Master of Cost Estimating and Analysis (MCEA) curriculum, focused on advanced methods and techniques for cost estimating and analyses.

The program, led by Visiting Professor Dr. Daniel Nussbaum and Senior Lecturer and retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Greg Mislick of the NPS Department of Operations Research, along with AFIT Professor Alfred Thal, prepares students for the demanding field cost estimating and analysis field within the DOD.

“This is the first time there has been a joint master’s degree in cost estimation and analysis, and we are very pleased with that distinction and with the wide reception and demand for the program,” said Nussbaum. “The collaboration and partnership with AFIT has been outstanding and we hope to continue working together in the future.”

In March of 2011, AFIT and NPS launched the first cohort of a part-time distance learning program in MCEA. A year later, the program launched its second cohort, and officials says demand for the program continues to grow and develop as applications come in for the next cohort scheduled to start in March of 2013.

Sponsored by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the MCEA was implemented in an effort to train government employees in cost estimation to meet the demands of the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 (WSARA 09).

“Every so often, we're asked what we're doing to develop our people into better cost analysts. In years past, all we had was a certification program from DAU (Defense Acquisition University),” said Dane S. Cooper, Technical Director of Cost Engineering and Industrial Analysis within the Naval Sea Systems Command. “We wanted a program that would go beyond what DAU provided, and in a big way. We asked NPS to work with AFIT to develop this program.

“This master’s program tells Congress, the contracting world, and the public that we're very serious about cost estimating,” Cooper added.

As the demand for qualified personnel in cost estimating and analysis increases, students note the MCEA degree has been of great value because of the flexibility and applicability of its teachings.

“My experience in the MCEA program thus far has been … directly applicable,” said MCEA student, Brad Ellis of Cask Technologies. “Not a week goes by that I don't apply something I've learned in my coursework during my day-to-day cost estimating work.

Ellis is a previous graduate of NPS in the financial management program while he was on active duty, and cites one significant difference between his previous experience at NPS, and his current studies off site.

“A major difference in studying for any degree through a DL program, as compared to a resident program, is time management. As a full-time student we're all there on orders with a mission to focus on nothing but school,” said Ellis.

“The DL program requires one to constantly balance competing priorities among school, work, community involvement and family. In the end, it's like most endeavors in life ... It requires trade-offs, but I feel confident in saying the sacrifices required in studying for the MCEA degree will be well worth it in the long run.”

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