QUEST: 20 Years of Quality
Each year, for the past 20 years, some of the University of Maryland’s best business,
mathematics, engineering, computer science, and physical sciences students enter
QUEST, a competitive multidisciplinary honors program that focuses on innovation,
quality systems management, and teamwork. More than 300 alumni and corporate partners
joined current students, faculty and staff to celebrate program’s 20th anniversary
at a dinner and awards ceremony hosted by the Smith School at the Riggs Alumni Center
on April 26.
When the program started in 1992, leaders at the University of Maryland and IBM
laid a foundation for a cross-disciplinary undergraduate learning experience in
technology and business. The goal was to improve quality and the program’s mission
was to apply quality improvement and innovation practices to the program itself.
The university won a competitive grant from IBM to launch IBM/TQ, a multidisciplinary
program that evolved into QUEST in 1998. It’s a true cross-campus partnership of
the Robert H. Smith School of Business, the A. James Clark School of Engineering
and the College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences.
“At the time it was very innovative and really radical in the education space
-- it brought together a team-oriented action-learning approach across disciplines,”
said Joseph Bailey, associate professor and the current executive director of QUEST.
“Since then we’ve held to the goals of the original vision of the program and we’ve
really tried to create an incredible learning experience for our students across
the engineering, science and business disciplines.”
Students enjoy a rich learning community and learn to solve problems through
systemic thinking and a team approach, ending with a real-world project their senior
year. The outcomes for students today echo those of the first cohort 20 years ago.
“In addition to the skill sets I learned in the program, the exposure to engineering
courses and working cross-functional teams is something I never would have experienced
as a business major at the time,” said Debbie Feinberg, an alumna of the program’s
inaugural cohort and now a member of the alumni board that helped plan the anniversary
celebration. “It’s made my career – I’ve used the tenets I learned in the program
over and over again.”
The large turnout of past and present QUEST participants to celebrate the program’s
anniversary is evidence for the legacy the program leaves and the impact on alumni
career paths. The ballroom at Riggs Alumni Center was ringed with posters displaying
photos from each of the 20 student cohorts. The alumni and students mingled before
taking their seats to hear from former and current program leaders, enjoy dinner,
and witness the current class of graduating senior receive medals to honor their
This year’s graduating 55 seniors are part of the program’s 17th cohort. Many
have landed jobs with top employers, including Amazon, Booz Allen Hamilton, IBM,
Deloitte Consulting, Ernst and Young, and Microsoft.
QUEST by the numbers …
About the Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader
in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the
University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate,
full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive
education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The
school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning
locations in North America and Asia.