Many engineering fields and jobs surrounding engineering are in high demand right now in the US, and one sector currently experiencing a huge boost in demand is engineering management. Schools can barely keep up with the demand, and it is further pushed by innovations in the industry. Not to mention that the engineering management degree continues to be so elusive to many students who want to work in engineering. Let’s take a look at some of the factors behind this trend and how it could affect the future of the profession.
Leaders are Stressing the Importance of the Degree
One director of a management engineering program stated that there wasn’t a single field that didn’t have to deal with engineering in one way or the other. And this is only going to be exacerbated when we’re seeing more and more automation and integration with smart sensors, more data being processed, and the ever growing Internet of Things (IoT).
According to a director in the medical device industry, what makes engineering managers so valuable is that they’re exactly qualified to help engineers look at their projects from the business side. Businesses hire people with engineering management degrees because they not only understand the business aspect of a project, but can also oversee the technical part and provide insight.
There was a time when engineers were presented with a particular problem and had to find a way to solve it. They often worked in silos and viewed issues from a purely technical standpoint. And many programs still reflect this by presenting a series of problems with fixed solutions.
But things have changed now. Engineering issues can reach far beyond engineering and become a stakeholder, client, or organizational issue. People with engineering management formations are the ones that are formed to understand how engineering problems and solutions have to satisfy all these different aspects and reached with them in mind.
Not only that, but engineers now have to be able to make decisions fast, even if the data isn’t complete and blurry. This often can be difficult to do without a full scope of the consequences of a decision. Those with MEMs, however, will be able to give their advice on certain decisions, and show how they could or could not work, even though the solution might seem viable from an engineering standpoint.
The MEM program equips student with a wide array of different logistical, managerial, technical and leadership skills that they can carry in many other fields and positions. More companies are going to look for engineering managers that can understand problems and solutions beyond pure engineering.
Engineers aren’t always the most flexible, and need certainty to do their job. Engineering managers, on the other hand, are trained to make decisions on the fly since they have a big picture view of any project, and can understand the repercussions of decisions more than engineers on the ground level, allowing them to make more informed executive decisions. The degree is also a great way for engineers to become better employees, and become more autonomous in their functions as well.
The Great Recession is Partly Responsible
Another factor that pushed demand in the sector was the great recession, which drove away many would-be engineers from the academic field and into the industrial one. The classic engineering degree is usually a pathway to a doctorate, while an engineering management degree is more often a terminal degree, as it is more of a fusion between the MBA and engineering.
As a result, many universities have started beefing up their programs and there are now more than 100 universities worldwide who are offering the degree. Students can also get their masters in engineering management online, with institutions like Kettering offering some of the best online MEM programs out there. Students get to learn everything from engineering ethics, financial management, and how to manage people and organizations. This program also allows engineers to add feathers to their cap while they are working so they can extend their field of competence and get advancement. Furthermore, these courses being midway between an MBA and an engineering degree allow students to fast track their MBA if they ever want to get one, and they can get their masters after taking only 4 additional courses, which is another great benefit.
Prospects and Salaries are Promising
Students also have the opportunities to specialize and get a special formation in healthcare management, global leadership, supply chain management, and operations management, which opens the door to all sorts of opportunities. The degree is viewed as a great investment for students, as they can expect to earn anywhere from $70,000 to $105,000 upon graduation, which is impressive.
The Degree Gives Access to a Wide Variety of Jobs
Another great thing about the program is the wide array of different positions graduates can fill. Those with a masters could work as mechanical engineers, and oversee the development, research, and design of various mechanical and thermal devices, tools, machines, and engines. Or they could work as costs system analysts and evaluate the costs needs for particular project and find ways to fill these needs in a more cost effective way.
Or they can simply decide to work as engineering managers and get great salaries straight out of the gate. Engineering managers are responsible for supervising processes and teams to make sure that projects stay on track and are completed in time. Their job is to delegate employees, plan, execute, and facilitate collaboration between various departments. They play an essential role in the engineering, research and development process and are the relay between production and development and upper management.
The growth in demand for engineering managers isn’t showing any signs of slowing down and the future looks promising for current students. The field is a great one for anyone with great leadership and organizational skills who want to merge the world of engineering and business.