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Engineering Management: What is It and Can You Benefit from the Course?

It is not uncommon for tech professionals to complete their management degrees after gathering the necessary experience. In fact, a master’s degree in management is considered to be quite essential for any expe

rienced employee who is looking to climb up the corporate ladder. Even years of experience as an engineer might not be enough for someone to assume a leadership position because the new job requires a different set of skills. In other words, if an engineer wants to join management in a tech firm, they will need the education and training required for taking up such a role successfully.


As far as options are concerned, several different business management programs are currently on offer from both offline and online universities nowadays. This can create a confusing situation for techies who may not be up to date with the latest news regarding new management education programs. It is true that just like any other professional, engineers can benefit to at least some degree by joining well-established business management courses such as an MBA or a MIM. However, there are better-suited business management programs available for engineers to pursue today, with the best example being the MSEM.


What is MSEM?
MSEM stands for Master of Science in Engineering Management and it is one of the best-suited business management degrees for engineers who are aspiring to take up an executive position. As the name itself suggests, this is a degree course exclusively created to help engineers master the business side of what they do and assume leadership roles in their respective fields. If they have significant knowledge about the business already, a short, engineering management online course will augment that knowledge by filling in the gaps and adding new information that techies without a business management degree are unlikely to possess.


MBA Vs. MSEM
It can be argued that there are plenty of tech specializations on offer in MBA courses as well, which is true. However, the big difference between a technological MBA specialization and an MSEM degree is in how they are both designed. When you join a Master of Business Administration program, it will be divided into two primary and several secondary parts.
The first part is almost always very similar across different courses because it is designed to introduce students to the basic concepts of business management, in reference to core facets such as accounting, communication, economics, leadership, marketing, ethics, finance, operations, strategy, analytics, etc. It is not until you get to the second, elective section of your MBA program that you get to learn about more specialized and relevant topics.


Similar to MBA, an MSEM is divided into two parts as well, namely the Core and the Concentration courses. However, a Master of Science in Engineering Management course is built from the ground up for engineers training to become project leads and managers. There are general elements in between courses of course, but each course is developed by engineering leaders, for aspiring engineers. Therefore, it would be more adequate to state that while MBA does have a wider appeal to professionals in general, studying engineering management is a far more relevant and potent option for engineers in general.


Can You Benefit from an Engineering Management Degree?
If you are an experienced engineer who does not yet have a graduation degree in management, then the short answer is yes, you can most certainly benefit from joining an engineering management degree. As a cross-disciplinary course, MSEM seamlessly merges and then augments your engineering knowledge with advanced management education and training. The coursework is designed to teach engineers about building, managing, and leading teams while working with everyone both inside and outside a technical work environment.
It should be noted that an engineering management course is not just about learning how to manage a team of engineers. Any engineer with significant experience behind them can do that with a moderate success rate. It is more about learning how to lead an entire team as a project lead. The knowledge difference between technical workers and non-technical workers can make it challenging for both parties to communicate and work together when required. As you study engineering management as a techie, you will learn how to collaborate with nontechnical employees and bridge that common communication gap effectively.


Any engineer looking to join the managerial end of an organization must be trained in a manner so that they gain the soft skills necessary for communicating, coordinating, and working with non-technical personnel as well. That is a big part of the coursework in engineering management programs. There are specific lessons on functional leadership insights and people management strategies that teach techies how to be an efficient project manager to everyone. The course stresses the importance of creating common grounds for facilitating clear, interdisciplinary communication. While individual credit must be given where it’s due, it is also important for a project manager to view and lead the entire team as a single unit.


What are the Qualifications Needed to Join a Course in Engineering Management?
The qualifications required to join an MSEM program may vary depending on several factors such as the:

  • College or University
  • Certification Board
  • Accreditation Board
  • Length of the program
  • Course type
  • Course electives
  • Prior education and academic performance
  • Work experience
  • State education rules


For example, there is no universal rule that states it is necessary for applicants to produce their GRE/GMAT test scores and meet a specified standard. Consequently, the decision regarding whether to fix a minimum GRE/GMAT score as one of their standard qualification requirements for applicants, depends on the particular business school. Some consider the scores irrelevant in relation to the engineering management degree, while other establishments have made it a mandatory requirement for all management programs.


To join an accredited MSEM degree course at any reputed university, all applicants must be certified engineers with at least some degree of relevant work experience. This requirement applies to all accredited engineering management programs because the degree is designed for engineers.


How Long Does It Take to Complete MSEM?


Quite similar to how the qualification standards for applicants do vary depending on a number of factors previously stated, the course length is also variable here. In fact, that’s not just true for MSEM, but just about all management degree courses in general. If you need the maximum amount of flexibility, study engineering management online. To better explain how that flexibility works in a student’s favor, let’s look at some of the highlight advantages.

  • You have the opportunity to complete your course faster if you can put in the extra effort necessary.
  • Take a short break from full-time work to complete the course and come back more qualified.
  • It is possible to complete your engineering management online in just one year, but not at all necessary.
  • Engineers with a full-time job and/or other responsibilities can take it much slower and complete the course in 6-years instead.
  • Keep your expenses manageable by using the extra time to work a full-time job.
  • Gain practical work experience and earn a graduate degree in engineering management at the same time.
  • Pick up your laptop or even just the smartphone between breaks to start studying at any time, from anywhere.
  • You will stay at home, so there is no added cost of college accommodation to worry about.
  • As you learn your lessons from home, you will save a small fortune in daily commuting expenses.


On-campus MSEM/MEM courses have a comparatively rigid timeframe. Even traditional programs differ depending on the aforementioned factors such as the institution, the subject, prior education, etc. Nevertheless, it should take 3 – 4 years for students to complete their engineering management degree at an offline, on-campus business school.


As we can see, the online format is just naturally more suited for working engineers. Besides, an MSEM course is a graduate-level education program meant for technical professionals. So, it won’t exactly be cheap to pay the tuition. The fact that people can work and chase a better career simultaneously by studying online is great for experience and future potential. Moreover, the fact that you can keep working to pay off the tuition fees and regular bills is a very practical advantage.


What Does the MSEM Curriculum Consist Of?


The syllabus or curriculum will vary for obvious reasons that were already explained in the previous points. Even with the variation in mind, it is possible to outline some of the main (Core + Concentration) subjects that a good engineering management program should cover, irrespective of whether you are studying online or on-campus.


Although the following list is by no means all-inclusive, you will find that a good number of subjects mentioned next are present in some of the best engineering management programs in the US.

  • Organizational Management
  • People Management
  • Project Management
  • Labor Relations Management
  • Finance Management
  • Marketing Management
  • Operations Management
  • Technology Management
  • Industrial Information System (IS) Management
  • Engineering Ethics
  • Business Communications
  • Business Presentation
  • Business Strategy
  • International Business


What Kind of Equipment Do You Need to Study Engineering Management Online?
Since we are discussing an engineering management degree for experienced pros here, chances are that you already have everything you need to get started. In any case, a good laptop or desktop is pretty much all one needs to get started with studying online. It is very unlikely that you don’t have a computer already, so the initial equipment investment needed to get started with your engineering management program online is often zero!


It’s true that coursework and training will likely make a few other investments necessary, but a decent computer is truly all the equipment you need to get started as an online student of management. Thanks to how far modern smartphones have come now, they too can be used to study and connect with your professors and fellow students on the go.
Fields of Expertise in Engineering Management


After completing the coursework in your core syllabus, you will have the choice to select your concentration course. This is also a variable for obvious reasons because you will not get the same choices in all universities. However, if you are aware of the entire set of options, it should be much easier for you to make an informed choice while selecting a university program. Let’s take a brief look at some of the most lucrative fields of concentration that are taught as an engineering management elective subject.


Project Management – A project manager oversees everything from planning and execution to completion of a project. They hold some of the most important positions in any company related to IT and engineering.


Product Management – Everything from planning, prototyping, and mass producing, to prelaunch marketing and launching is organized and coordinated by the product development manager.


Operations Management – Operations management is a multifaceted, multi-stepped role that requires a lot of micromanagement. The final goal of an operations manager is to maximize cost-to-profit efficiency for the company.
Operational Risk Management – Operational risk managers are field-based specialists who identify potential risks, prepare prevention guidelines, and design contingency plans based on data, analysis, knowledge, and experience.


Information Systems & Technology Management – This is a very broad role and subdivision/delegation of duty is a high possibility. It encompasses the management of all things related to IS and IT. This includes hardware, software applications, web applications, and networking.


Supply Chain Management – Supply chain management is in some ways similar to product management and they may overlap at times. However, the core difference between a product manager and a supply chain manager is that the latter does not deal with developing products. They are in charge of delivering everything needed to develop, stock, and distribute those products.


Engineering/Technological Entrepreneurship – Since this is not directly related to a job role, the course must be defined in a different manner. A specialization in Engineering Entrepreneurship will teach you how to use your technical skills to plan, market, launch, manage, and grow your own tech firm.


Construction Management – Civil engineers are usually best suited for studying construction management as it aligns with their engineering skills. Depending on the project, it could include anything and everything related to construction planning, designing, cost management, risk assessment, risk management, safety assurance, and quality assurance.


If you find that a single concentration has two or more of these concentrations embedded into the coursework, that too is common practice. However, since this is the second part of your engineering management training, the course mustn’t deviate too much from the main concentration.


If there are too many subjects in one concertation, then it might not be delving into the main elective as much as it perhaps should. Overlapping and additional knowledge is both expected and welcome, but the elective should not lose focus as it is supposed to be a concentration by definition!

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