Spotlight: Graduate Ambassador Peter Varma

Peter Varma

Meet Peter Varma, a 2022-2023 ambassador from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering in the College of Engineering. Varma is the product development director at S&P Global and a member of the Global Executive Track (GET) Ph.D. program at Wayne State. 

Below he talks about the unique opportunity of GET and why Detroit is an inspirational place to learn. 

What inspired you to attend graduate school at Wayne State?  

I have an insatiable curiosity, so I love learning and looking for new ways to challenge myself. I am especially interested in innovation and novel thinking. Embarking upon a Ph.D. in systems engineering was a natural extension of realizing these passions and interests.  

The GET program is unique in that it is specifically designed for experienced technology and engineering professionals and provides unparalleled access to world-class business leaders and professors. I know of no similar engineering doctoral program. 

What are your research interests?

My thesis will focus on organizational learning during the concept phase of product development from the context of both knowledge retention and innovation. Since learning is a highly complex phenomenon with many abstract variables, my intention is to generate a practical framework to better create and retain organizational product development knowledge. 

I am impressed by my faculty’s extensive expertise in machine learning and artificial intelligence. I believe there is an exceptional opportunity to marry my faculty’s technical expertise in these fields with my engineering product development background. Together we will collaborate and generate some truly novel and intriguing knowledge management research discoveries.

What do you like most about the Detroit community?  

Detroit is diverse, upbeat and energetic. Everyone is welcome here, and there is always something new happening whether it be a new restaurant opening or an eclectic concert venue. I am continually inspired by the amazing architecture both on campus and throughout the city. There is no place in Michigan quite like it. 

What makes you proudest to be a Warrior?  

My Wayne State network is fantastic. My classmates are captains of industry, frequently CEOs, CTOs, vice presidents and directors. My peers are not only experienced executives, but also passionate about learning, research and especially about bettering our society. My professors are accessible, supportive and incredibly open-minded. The learning environment and culture at Wayne State is fun, collaborative and collegial–I am proud to be part of this community. 

What made you want to become a graduate ambassador?   

I know of many working professionals who have pondered completing a Ph.D. but are discouraged by the many obstacles prevalent in traditional doctoral programs. The GET program avoids these obstructions while providing a highly collaborative culture in which the Ph.D. candidates are empowered and cherished as invaluable learning partners. As an ambassador, I can not only market this amazing program but also dispel negative myths surrounding doctoral studies.  

How do you envision your career after Wayne State?  

My career is already in a good place, so my intention is for my research to be intriguing and germane to others in industry. Ideally, my thesis work will benefit my own firm or wherever I happen to be in industry. I have also considered venturing out on my own with my thesis research serving as the foundational element of my business model. Whatever the case may be, I will recurrently benefit from the collective wisdom of my supportive and talented Wayne State network. 

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