Terry Scoggins: Small Town Athlete Makes Career Out of Lifelong Learning

Graduate Certificate, Management Science and Engineering, Biodesign

Growing up in the small town of Cleveland, Tennessee, Terry Scoggins' focus was football. A star athlete recruited by several major college teams, he gave more thought to his routes on the gridiron than to his academic plan. But when a serious injury stalled his football aspirations, he found himself redirecting his focus into academics. Some 35 years later, Scoggins is a serious student, both on and off the job.

"Stanford does an excellent job delivering challenge to remote students and integrating them in with the on-campus students."

  • IT Manager, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Stanford Certified Project Manager, Stanford University
  • Graduate Certificate in Management Science and Engineering, Stanford¬†University
  • Graduate Certificate in Biodesign, Stanford University (started 2011)
  • MS Industrial Engineering, University of Tennessee
  • BS Business/Information Systems, Tennessee Tech

After having already completed a master's degree in industrial engineering at the University of Tennessee and an executive program at the University of Notre Dame while working at ORNL, he recently completed a graduate certificate in Management Science and Engineering through the Stanford Center for Professional Development distance learning program and is now enrolled in the Stanford Biodesign program.

"I love learning, even as I ease into my middle-age years," says Scoggins. "I also like challenges and that is one of the reasons I chose Stanford. The rigorous academics and the competitive students make Stanford a very attractive and rewarding challenge."

Scoggins is IT Policy, Process, and Performance Manager in the IT department at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, TN. ORNL is a multi-program science and technology laboratory managed for the Department of Energy by UT-Battelle, LLC. Scoggins' responsibilities include the analysis and improvement of IT processes and contingency planning for ORNL IT resources.

The professional culture at ORNL encourages learning and development. In some ways Scoggins says the ORNL campus feels very much like Stanford, with world-class facilities and a highly intelligent workforce. ORNL offers an education assistance program and was very supportive of Scoggins' academic pursuits.

He first enrolled at Stanford in 2007, earning a professional certificate in Advanced Project Management. His experience was so positive, and the learning so valuable, that he subsequently enrolled in a graduate certificate program in the Department of Management Science and Engineering. He was eager to learn up-to-date methods for analyzing problems and processes. "Stanford's management science and engineering program provides an excellent mixture of engineering, business, and organizational science," he says. "The combination of these disciplines provides increased career flexibility and focus for a wide range of career paths." The curriculum appealed to him because it encourages an awareness and proficiency in both technical and organizational aspects of engineering and business.

Now that he's completed the program, he approaches problems and projects from a more holistic view. "Instead of approaching a problem from a purely quantitative perspective, I now consider the impact on the organizational dynamics," he says. "In most IT and engineering organizations, personnel are often the most expensive assets so it is important to consider the impact on them when making technical decisions. Conversely, even purely organizational issues can sometimes benefit from quantitative analysis."

Scoggins was impressed by the quality of teaching and the approachability of the faculty, even for distant learners. He worked on numerous group projects with students from around the world, which added to his learning and enjoyment. He also enjoyed the option of attending the classes live on the Stanford campus when possible and meeting his classmates and professors in person. One of his most memorable experiences was a project for Professor Kosnik's class, Global Entrepreneurial Marketing. Scoggins was the only remote student working with a group of four on-campus students who were all from different countries. "We had many late-night online Skype meetings due to the 3-hour time difference, but we had fun and completed a very successful project. This experience provided valuable insight into how people from different nations and cultures approach business decisions and negotiations."

He also particularly enjoyed Professor Pietzsch's class, Technology Assessment and Regulation of Medical Devices. His personal research topic in the class was on the treatment of cerebral aneurysms. While this topic may be quite different from information technology, Scoggins found the application of engineering, regulation, and policy to the field of medical devices an excellent guide for formulating process and policy for IT-related issues. He enjoyed the topic so much, that he subsequently enrolled in Stanford's Biodesign program.

Blending work and personal life into a lifelong career, this small town former athlete works with researchers on issues affecting the world. His love of learning has resulted in his acquiring quite the reputation. "Many of my friends and coworkers insist that school is my hobby, and I can't say that I disagree with them," he says. "I highly recommend Stanford's program to anyone who is willing to meet the challenges and grow professionally and academically. Stanford does an outstanding job of making this experience available to working professionals worldwide."