“Everybody that I’ve encountered, including my professors, fellow students, MSD administrators, and MIU staff, have all been absolutely the sweetest people on the planet and unbelievably supportive and helpful. I love the environment that I am in. You could not ask for a better environment as a student.” ~ Rick Rudloff
Interview by Christine Albers (CA)
CA: You have such a diverse background, Rick. When did you first arrive in Fairfield, and how did one career evolve into the other over the years?
Rick: Rick: In 1999, when my daughter was a teenager, I moved to Fairfield, Iowa, and started teaching Mathematics and Physics at Maharishi School, where my daughter was a junior. These were the last two years of my daughter’s high school education, and I was her Math and Physics teacher. That was lots of fun and it was my first foray into teaching. When she graduated high school, we moved to Florida for three years while she attended the University of Florida, and I was an investor and real estate developer.
My mom was living in Fairfield, and she had some health issues. So, in 2012, I moved back to look after her and returned to Maharishi School. Then, in 2018, I started a pastry business. Trying to do the pastry business while teaching Math, Physics, and Rocketry was a total burnout so I decided to continue with the pastry business and cut back to only teaching competition rocketry. Eventually, I let go of the pastry business because it wasn’t generating enough income and required many long hours. I figured, if I was spending so much time on something, I should be well-paid, and that was the start of my interest in MSD.
CA: What specifically drew you to MSD?
Rick: I was thinking about going back to a normal job in a corporate America technical field and I always wanted to get a Master’s degree. I had some programming experience back at HP with the HP 41C, which was an assembly type of programming language tool, and I loved programming then, so that was one important draw for me to pursue the Master’s in Software Development.
Perhaps the biggest motivation for going through MSD centers around my daughter because she lives in Nashville, TN, and has two six-year-old kids. They’re twins, and I have a strong desire to be close to them, and I also love the Nashville area. I was motivated to join MSD so I can gain a great occupation in software development and live and work anywhere, including Nashville.
CA: How are you doing on MSD so far?
Rick: I always do my level best to get the absolute highest score possible and have no problem taking as much time as needed to learn and master the material. With MSD, I love the material and enjoy learning all I can.
But I will tell you, this is not a cakewalk. I chose the 12-month Accelerated Program instead of the 18-month program which provides more foundational courses. When I looked at both paths, I could see pluses and minuses to going down either one. If I chose the 18-month program, where my level of knowledge was already strong in some courses, it would be relatively relaxed for the first 3 or 4 months. That would have been an easier path for me to get back into school.
However, I have this urgency because I’m a little older than most of my classmates and I want to move to Nashville to be near my daughter and her family as soon as I can. So that was the driver to join the MSD 12-month program.
CA: What inspires you most about MSD?
Rick: Everybody that I’ve encountered, including my professors, fellow students, MSD administrators, and MIU staff, have all been absolutely the sweetest people on the planet and unbelievably supportive and helpful. I love the environment that I am in. You could not ask for a better environment as a student.
CA: What do you like best about the MSD approach to education?
Rick: I really appreciate the Block System versus traditional education with 5 or 6 classes a semester. For example, with traditional education, four math courses would take two years. With the block system, we can take all four classes in one semester and each course builds on the previous course.
I also like the Final Projects a lot. We had our first team project during our second course, and I loved it. In software development, each person works on a particular part of the project and is responsible for keeping the rest of the team updated, so we complement each other. No one person can complete the project on their own. I chose to work in an area where I needed more experience and that helped with my final grade. The final projects prepare us for the corporate world, where software developers work in teams and it’s very rare to not work on a team.
CA: How do you like the international culture at MIU?
Rick: It’s great to meet people from so many different countries and cultures, but the cool thing is being surrounded by people who are super sharp. We all help each other. We learn from our smarter classmates and help those who don’t understand. I love everyone in my class. It is super sweet.
CA: How does your Transcendental Meditation (TM) practice fit in with the MSD program?
Rick: I learned TM when I was 13 years old, so my history with TM is a bit different from the other students because I have been meditating regularly for many years. Now that I’m on MSD, I appreciate TM more than ever and see how extremely powerful the technique is for minimizing stress. It takes my mind off the urgency of the moment by providing some peaceful time to check out, rest my mind and refresh my body, and come back to work feeling clearer and ready to take it on. I think the other MSD students like it too. We meditate together in class, and I notice everyone takes it seriously.
CA: Do you have any advice for prospective MSD students?
Rick: I bumped into an acquaintance who was interested in joining MSD, but he didn’t have much computer background, so I recommended the 18-month program, which I recommend to anyone who doesn’t have a strong computer background.
CA: Any last comments on the program?
Rick: If you love learning, this is the program for you. There are so many ways to approach a problem and get a solution, but programming is an opportunity to use your creativity and knowledge, so when you do find the solution, it is super rewarding.