Happy 15th Anniversary, QUEST
Each year, some of the best business, mathematics, engineering, computer
science, and physical sciences students enter a multidisciplinary,
reality-centered academic program that focuses on innovation, quality systems
management, and teamwork. Quality Enhancement Systems and Teams (QUEST) began
fifteen years ago when the University of Maryland launched IBM/TQ, a
multidisciplinary program with IBM. The program became QUEST, a special honors
program, in 1998.
Dr. J. Gerald Suarez, executive director of QUEST, says that businesses and
academic institutions need to look at problems, possibilities, and opportunities
from multiple perspectives. “QUEST is a community of learning that values all
the aspects of teams— collaboration, synergy, trust, quantitative and
qualitative methods—and combines them to help people achieve their aspirations,
pursue their collective goals, and translate theory into action,” he says.
To celebrate the program’s 15th anniversary, the Smith School caught up with
QUEST alumni to hear how they remember the program and how it affected their
Debbie Feinberg ’95, president, Maximize! LLC
There were tangible things I learned in the QUEST program, additional
statistics, additional engineering concepts, additional marketing concepts.
There was also the really intangible—how to work in teams, how to work in
cross-cultural teams, cross-functional teams, and bringing that attitude of ‘yes
you can do anything’ to the workplace. I think that’s what makes a successful
employee and I think QUEST students come out with that.
Michael Schaffer ’06, consultant, Deloitte
I think that QUEST is really where I found my interest in consulting. It was
while working in teams to solve client issues that I really learned that was
something I wanted to do. Those were the things that I believe my company looked
at and said, ‘Yes, this person has shown the capacity to learn the things that
we need him to do. So let’s hire him.’
Matt Brumberger ’07, consultant, Booz Allen Hamilton
The QUEST program provided me with valuable lessons both inside and outside
the classroom. The constant interaction with my fellow students, staff and
faculty, as well as the stimulating curriculum, enhanced my ability to
assimilate within the workforce and enriched many aspects of my life.