Home / Blog / SMU Gives You the Foundation to Adapt and Thrive in an Evolving Industry

SMU Gives You the Foundation to Adapt and Thrive in an Evolving Industry

Headshot of Ranjit Bhatia.

Ranjit Bhatia has been in the telecommunications industry long enough to witness profound innovation and transformation. After graduating with his bachelor's in electrical and computer engineering, Bhatia joined the networking and telecommunications firm Ericsson. He has been with them ever since.

It wasn't long before Bhatia became very interested in the innovations happening in telecommunications. He began looking for a graduate program that would give him an end-to-end perspective and a more comprehensive view of the field. He wanted to understand where telecommunications was headed.

During his search for the right graduate program, Bhatia came across Lyle School of Engineering's network engineering master's program. What caught his eye was how closely the program's interdisciplinary curriculum aligned with his desire to learn more about telecom. That plus the program's flexibility made SMU's Master of Science in Network Engineering (MSNE) a perfect fit.

Today, Bhatia is Vice President of Sales Development at Ericsson. He represents the digital services business unit for North America and works closely with sales teams to sell products related to its digital services portfolio. He enjoys being in the business of connecting people.

Bhatia generously took time out of his busy schedule to share how his experiences in SMU's MSNE program helped him advance in his career and navigate adeptly in an ever-evolving network engineering and telecommunications landscape.

How Did SMU's Network Engineering Program Prepare You for Industry Change?

The network engineering master's program was fantastic. When I reflect on my experience, three things come to my mind about how it prepared me for changes in the industry.

First, I think the program gave me a solid foundation from the perspective of the fundamentals. When I joined the program, courses such as Introduction to Telecom helped me to understand the complete end-to-end telecom side of the business.

Second, the program addressed forward-looking topics. When I joined, wireless was just starting to come up. Wireless didn't yet exist in its current capacity, but the program addressed wireless quite a bit. It also addressed all of the management systems and elements critical to wireless.

Third, the program pulled it all together for me from an end-to-end perspective. It helped me thoroughly understand what was happening with the network from a regulatory standpoint, what was happening with networks from the technology side and what could happen in the future of network engineering.

All three of these things came together, and I think it set a strong foundation for me. Over the years, I have had the skills to leverage what I've learned in the program because of those fundamentals. I've continued building on them over the years as the industry changed.

How Did the Pandemic Impact the Industry, and How Did the Program Prepare You to Navigate the Challenges?

Things changed overnight. We all started to work from home and we couldn't meet face-to-face with our customers anymore. Business travel stopped. We had to learn how to work through Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Another challenge was that trade shows stopped. Telecommunication was classified as a critical resource or a critical industry. The business had to go on, so we had to adjust our working methods. We needed to keep the safety and health of the employees in mind and the safety and health of our customers in mind.

The pandemic brought the importance of telecommunication and communication into focus. It has also given us new ways of working. People now prefer working in a hybrid environment or working from home. The work goes on, but the ways of working have changed.

I don't think I could have imagined that this would have happened in my lifetime so there was no way to prepare for it exactly. But by having that background from this program, my fundamentals were strong, which helped me navigate these challenges and changes. My confidence has increased because of how much we add value to people's lives. Telecom Networks are critical to making sure that business is happening and people talk to each other. This reinforced my view that I am part of a very important industry.

How Did the Program Most Impact Your Career?

SMU's MSNE gave me the foundation to succeed. Even though I started on the wireline side, I've been able to transition to the wireless side of the business because of the program. I now work more on the wireless side because the industry has changed. The program gave me the skills and knowledge to make that transition.

The program was also an excellent experience for me because it set the foundation for the rest of my career. It helped me understand what was happening at the time and prepared me for what would happen in the future. When I was in the program, wireless technology was the future. The future is now.

I also give a lot of credit to the Lyle School of Engineering faculty. They were fantastic. When I was in the program, there were several faculty members with a good, first-hand understanding of the industry. That gave me a lot of confidence that what I was learning was relevant. The program wasn't just about reading books. It was about getting relevant experience.

What Else from the Program Has Stuck With You?

One of my first classes was Intro to Telecom, taught by Dr. Baker. That class profoundly impacted me and set the foundation for me to keep going in my career. Dr. Baker taught us the fundamentals of telecom networks. He did a lot of consulting in the industry at the time. He knew what he was talking about and was firm with us about what we needed to learn. I think that class started me on the right path and allowed me to excel in the different parts of the program.

From an end-to-end perspective, I was able to understand what was happening with telecommunications – what the industry issues were and what challenges we were facing. That is something I've taken with me throughout my career.

What Makes SMU's Online Network Engineering Master's Standout?

The program sets you up to adapt to future technologies. It prepares you for what's coming up, and it also gives you that end-to-end perspective. Even the regulatory elements of the program were powerful for me because I did not understand all the regulatory challenges of this industry at the time. Today, when I look at this program, it is as powerful as it was years ago. The program foundation stays the same but courses continue to evolve with the industry. When I look at the new things that the program covers, from cloud infrastructure to open networking, it's forward-looking. It covers things that are very relevant today. At the end of the day, the program brings it all together from an end-to-end perspective and sets the stage for you to succeed in this business.

The 30-credit online master's in network engineering program at SMU Lyle School of Engineering offers the flexibility of remote learning paired with a student experience similar to that enjoyed by graduate students on campus. MSNE candidates work with the latest network engineering technologies in labs and projects with leading organizations such as CITI, AT&T and Verizon. Graduates exit the program with in-demand network engineering skills, real-world experience that translates into opportunity and the adaptability to succeed in this changing industry. If you're ready to advance in your network engineering career, read more about the MSNE admissions requirements or apply online today.