QUEST Honors Fellows Program

The QUEST Honors Program is a specialized program for undergraduate students at the University of Maryland, College Park. The program accepts students from the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, the Robert H. Smith School of Business, and the A. James Clark School of Engineering.[1]

The name QUEST is an acronym for Quality Enhancement Systems and Teams. The QUEST curriculum covers quality management, process improvement, idealized design, and systems design. In the capstone course, QUEST students conduct consulting projects for corporate clients and present their results at a conference.[1]


In 1990, the University of Maryland, College Park began a total quality initiative on campus. President William E. Kirwin and senior staff spent a year in total quality training, examining both administrative and pedagogical processes on campus to address the challenges of a dim financial forecast and declining enrollments.[2] In October 1991, 18 months into the University of Maryland's efforts, IBM launched a grant competition for universities to improve total quality in higher education.[3] IBM offered eight awards in the amount of $1,000,000 cash and $3,000,000 of IBM equipment, and received 204 applications.[4] Of the eight universities to receive awards, the University of Maryland was the only school to include an undergraduate program as part of their total quality initiative, a program which began as the IBM-TQ program and continued in 1998 as QUEST.[5]


QUEST students begin the program in their sophomore year, and continue in the program through their senior year. They must take three QUEST courses: Introduction to Design and Quality, Systems Thinking for Managerial Decision Making, and the QUEST Consulting and Innovation Practicum.[6] QUEST students also take two elective courses from a list of courses related to quality management and process improvement, operations research, and production and operations management.

Executive Directors

The current Executive Director of QUEST is Dr. Joseph P. Bailey, Research Associate Professor in the Decisions, Operations, and Information Technology department at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.[7][8]

Dr. J. Gerald Suarez, Professor of the Practice in Systems Thinking and Design, served as Executive Director of QUEST from 2005 to 2008. Building on the academic heritage of the program he was instrumental in accelerating QUEST’s ascent. He instituted Systems Thinking and Design Thinking in the program as well as established the senior consulting conference as a public event to showcase the contributions of the students, among many other accomplishments. This event has become a staple in the program and a point of pride for the families of the students.

During his tenure student teams translated imagination into action and action into tangible impact. For example, a student team gained patent-pending status on an innovative product, other became a top ten finalist in a national green technologies challenge sponsored by GE and MTVu, another team developed a nonprofit organization to support the children living in orphanages throughout Ukraine and another team developed the weBike[9] station-less bike sharing system. [10]These projects reflected the new social consciousness of students today. Dr. Suarez continues serving in the QUEST program as faculty of Systems Thinking as well a member of the QUEST Quality Guild, offering strategic guidance.[11]


  1. What is QUEST? Program Information Archived May 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  2. Olian, J. "Total Quality and the Academy: Problems and Opportunities." in eds. Ruben, B. Quality in Higher Education. Transaction Publishers, 1995. p. 243 & 248.
  3. Ibid.; Zairi, M. "Total quality education for superior performance." Training for Quality 3(1) 1995 Link to article
  4. Zairi, M. "Total quality education for superior performance." Training for Quality 3(1) 1995 Link to article
  5. Assad, A. and Olian, J. "Total Quality and the Academy: Continuously Improving the University of Maryland." in ed. Roberts, H. Academic Initiatives in Total Quality for Higher Education. ASQC Press, Milkwakee, Wisconsin, 1995.
  6. QUEST Curriculum Archived February 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. Dr. Joseph P. Bailey, Faculty Profile.
  8. QUEST Staff Archived May 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
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