Each student must demonstrate competency to complete the program successfully.
Michel, who was an AMP teaching assistant and is now the program manager, said the teamwork reflects many current collaborative work environments. And working in teams helps the AMP students bond, a camaraderie that Scherer said survived the COVID interregnum.
“The entire year of COVID, they did not get as good an experience.” Scherer said. “We had biweekly cocktail hours where I would get online with them at about 5 o’clock on a Wednesday night and we would just chat. We did a lot of events throughout the year – virtual events, because that is what the times required.”
Scherer said the students got to know each other even while working virtually on case studies, so they weren’t strangers when they came together at the end of their year for a graduation luncheon.
“It wasn’t as good as it is in-person, but they do so much teamwork and we have top faculty who know how to engage the students,” Scherer said. “We were able to replicate about 80% of that, but not all.”
Scherer said this year AMP has its smallest cohort – 15 students, about half the typical class size – which he attributes to uncertainty over COVID. The size of the class gives the students room to spread out in their Darden classroom, socially distanced in tiered semi-circles in front of the instructor. The masked students follow along on two screens in the front of the room, or on the identical material that appears on their laptop screens, as professor Greg Gerling, associate professor of systems engineering who studies applied human factor engineering, discusses successful product design.