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What is Engineering Management?

April 1, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Engineering management is the incorporation of management duties into engineering. This combination is unique, and its demand has been on the rise over the years. Engineering is a complex yet satisfying career that requires management skills to ensure projects are effectively handled, from beginning to end. Engineering management combines an individual’s technical expertise with excellent leadership skills and knowledge and prepares you for technology companies and organizations’ jobs. This career also sums up technical problem-solving skills and administrative, organizational, and planning management capabilities to supervise complex engineering operations.

Many colleges and universities offer engineering management programs in the United States. The program is designed for fresh engineers and other technical professionals and equips them with the management skills needed to take on a leadership role in the industry. As an engineering manager, you are better prepared to tackle any engineering project than a typical engineer, thanks to the additional management experience. 

To best understand the in-depth engineering management, let us examine and take a tour of the following essential aspects:

  1. The responsibilities of an engineering manager
  2. The types of engineering management
  3. The importance of engineering management
  4. The benefits of earning an engineering management degree

Responsibilities of an Engineering Manager

An engineering manager is a graduate professional responsible for ensuring that critical engineering and project duties are completed flawlessly. Their expertise allows them to solve and resolve any engineering issues bound to come up in a project. As an engineering manager, the direction a project takes depends on you. Its success or failure is directly tied to you. Therefore, you need to perform all your duties diligently to make the project a success.

Here are some of the principal duties of an engineering manager:

  • Assigning Duties to Engineers
    For a project to run efficiently, different personnel has to work on their duties with exceptional skills. Engineering managers assign duties to the engineers working on a project. These duties range from designing systems and structures, supervising operations, and writing reports, among others. For instance, in electrical engineering, an engineering manager can assign the duty of designing electrical circuits to an electrical engineer.
  • Assessing the Progress of Engineering Projects
    Every engineering project, during its construction, requires to be assessed to determine the progress. Engineering managers use the construction level to determine the progress and compare it with the set timelines for completion. 
  • Engaging with Clients
    Clients are essential since they are the financiers of engineering projects. The engineering manager must keep them updated on the project at all times. Engineering managers assemble all the project data and progress and present it to the clients in a simplified and easy-to-understand manner.
  • Partner with Sales Department To Manufacture New Products
    In manufacturing engineering firms, the constant upgrading of products is a sure way to attract more customers. Engineering managers in such firms must liaise with the sales department and develop new and better to increase sales.
  • Propose and Develop Project Budgets
    Engineering managers are also in charge of proposing and coming up with feasible project budgets. These budgets are often presented to clients to decide the funding of the projects. Project budgets are critical because it also helps in the planning of the project. You get to know what amount of money goes to every part of the project.
  • Report Writing
    As simple as it may sound, report writing is a critical and complex process in any engineering project. There is a lot of information captured in such reports, including the progress of all planned activities, money allocation to every activity, staff data, and many more. It takes the expertise of engineering managers to develop a quality project report.
  • Training New Employees
    Any team must welcome new employees and train them to work on a given project comfortably. As an engineering manager, you have to orient new employees. Still, you introduce them to the current staff, the work designs, the planned activities, the ethical codes, and the regulations and policies at hand. 

Other duties include:

  • Attending internal and external meetings and conferences related to a project
  • Hiring new staff through conducting interviews

What Qualifications Must an Engineer Manager Have?

With all these duties in mind, you are probably wondering what qualifications are required to be a competent engineering manager. Engineering managers often combine educational and interpersonal skills to become skilled in this field. Here is a list of the top qualifications that will guarantee an engineering manager whose top-notch skills.

  • A bachelor’s degree in any engineering field, e.g., mechanical engineering
  • Excellent math and analytical skills
  • Excellent problem-solving skills
  • Good leadership skills
  • Top-notch creativity in developing new products
  • A master’s degree in engineering or a master’s in business administration (MBA) is preferred 
  • Great interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work under minimal or no supervision
  • Ability to arrive at decisions fast and accurately

These are the top skills that every engineering manager ought to have to succeed in the field. An engineering manager is a whole-round individual who oversees many activities and people; therefore, possessing these skills is mandatory. These skills are shaped by the engineering profession you choose to pursue. 

What Types of Projects Do Engineering Managers Work On?

There are plenty of projects that engineering managers work on. In most cases, these projects are always massive, with a lot of activities involved. Here are the three major projects that engineering managers can work on:

  • Civil engineering projects: Civil engineering projects include constructing structures, mining, marine engineering projects, and many other related projects. Engineering managers are employed because these projects incur risks and often require massive capital investment. These need rigorous management of the project’s quality, finance, and progress, which is well-managed by engineering managers.
  • Manufacturing projects: Manufacturing projects are projects designed to produce machines or equipment such as vehicles, aircraft, tools, and many more. The process starts with the design and moves into various levels of testing and manufacturing. The project manager has to manage all steps involved to guarantee quality as well as functionality. Engineering managers with a background in mechanical engineering have the technical-knowhow to handle such projects.
  • Management projects: Management projects arise in many companies when they choose to shift how their services work. E.g., when a company relocates to another place or when it introduces new systems. These shifts are massive and often require an engineering manager to help run the processes. For example, if a company introduces a new software, an engineering manager with a software engineering background is best-suited to train the workers on its use and ensure the software runs efficiently. 

Types of Engineering Management

Engineering management is a career built by the engineering profession. Engineering management requires you to have a substantial engineering background in a specific field such as civil engineering, mechanical engineering, or electrical engineering, and many others. A solid foundation in an engineering field and management skills are the building blocks of an accomplished engineering manager.

As a result of the diverse engineering field, here are the main types of engineering management.

  • Mechanical Engineering Management
    Mechanical engineering is a vast engineering field that majors in thermodynamics, kinematics, material science, and structural analysis. Mechanical engineering projects are often large and involve many processes before a product is manufactured. The process advanced from design to manufacturing, requiring a keen eye to ensure no mistakes are made. Mechanical engineering management comes in handy to oversee all the mechanical processes handled with all workers’ skills. For example, in a vehicle assembly plant, the engineering manager will ensure the mechanical engineers design the vehicles according to standards, assemblers put together every part accurately, and the reports are written and communicated to the top management. 
  • Civil Engineering Management
    Civil engineering is also a large field that involves the design and construction of roads, Civil engineering is also a large field that involves the design and construction of roads, buildings, water systems, harbor systems, bridges, and many other structures. Projects associated with civil engineering are often large and require immense attention to ensure they run to completion. Civil engineering managers have a background in civil engineering and exist to supervise the entire operations and activities. These include actual construction supervision, assigning duties to civil engineers and other employees, writing progress reports, and communicating with clients on the project’s issues. Therefore, civil engineering management requires a skilled civil engineer with excellent management skills. 
  • Electrical Engineering Management
    Electrical engineering deals with electricity and electrical systems and is another complex field that needs thorough expertise when handling related projects. It comes with huge risks and therefore requires an electrical engineering manager to run electrical projects. The electrical engineering manager must have a degree in electrical engineering and top management skills to fit this position.

Other key types of engineering management include the following:

  • Chemical engineering management
  • Industrial engineering management
  • Software engineering management

Every engineering field has its management aspect, giving rise to a type of engineering management. 

What Types of Engineering Management Are in High Demand?

The engineering field is a lucrative field because of the high number of projects that the government and private clients are always funding. For instance, roads are always being constructed, repaired, and maintained across the United States, making civil engineering managers demand. However, some engineering fields are more pronounced when it comes to the demand for engineering management. The demand for engineering management professionals is primarily guided by the engineering field’s nature and the number of engineering projects. 

Here is a list of the top engineering management professions with the highest demand in the current market, in chronological order.

  • Mechanical engineering management.
  • Civil engineering management.
  • Electrical engineering management.

The three engineering management types are in high demand because they command many essential projects. These projects are massive, and a competent manager is needed to inspect and manage them from start to finish. 

What Fields of Engineering Will Expand Next Decade and Lead to An Increased Demand for Engineering Management?

As years move by, technology in the engineering industry continues to progress. Several engineering fields are likely to grow and develop in the next decade, positively impacting the demand for engineering management. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2019, the following engineering fields are the fastest-growing and are most likely to increase the demand for engineering management:

  • Industrial Engineering: Industrial engineering is expected to grow its employment opportunities by 10% between 2019 and 2029 as the world invests more in the growing number of industries.
  • Electrical Engineering: Electrical engineering is predicted to grow its employment opportunities by approximately 5% between 2019 and 2029.
  • Biomedical Engineering: This field will grow its employment opportunities by 5% as many medical industries are slowly manufacturing drugs and medical equipment.
  • Chemical Engineering: Chemical engineering will grow its employment opportunities by about 4% between 2019 and 2029.
  • Mechanical Engineering: Mechanical engineering will develop its employment opportunities by 4% in the next decade.
  • Petroleum Engineering: This field is expected to grow its employment opportunities by 3% in the next decade, a lower rate perhaps because of the diminishing levels of petroleum worldwide.
  • Environmental Engineering: Environmental engineering is expected to grow its employment opportunities by 3% in the coming decade.

A master’s degree in engineering management will significantly increase your chances of getting employed in these engineering fields. 

Importance of Engineering Management

Proper engineering management is a necessity for all engineering projects. A large portion of projects’ success depends on how the projects are managed and problems handled. However, there are engineering projects that have encountered poor engineering management, which came at a cost. Poor engineering management practices are the last things engineering projects need. The losses that come with improper engineering management are huge and could bring down projects in a blink of an eye. 

Below are the possible actions that can happen without proper engineering management:

  • Poor Scoping of An Engineering Project: An engineering project’s scope is used to plan finances and procedures, making it vital in any given project. As an engineering manager, you are tasked with establishing a project’s scope by considering its budget, schedule, and quality. Improper engineering management will lead to poor scoping of a project, causing the stakeholders to miss out on understanding the value they’ll get from their input. This misstep can result in stakeholders walking out on projects, stalling the projects.
  • Poor Resource Allocation: Engineering projects often use up plenty of resources to ensure the team meets project goals. For example, a road project will require a lot of cement, dense bitumen macadam, stones, murram, and many more materials to enable the construction of the road structures. Improper engineering management will result in poor resource allocation, compromising the quality of the project outcome, which results in a shortage or wastage of key resources, which is a considerable loss.
  • Poor Communication: A large number of engineering projects fail because of this simple reason: poor communication. Ineffective communication is a significant problem caused by the lack of proper engineering management. A lack of communication between engineering managers can negatively affect the overall project output and cause unnecessary delays. Different departments ought to communicate and streamline their progress for the project to run smoothly. 

Besides those actions, other results of improper project management include:

  • Uncoordinated stakeholders’ management
  • Poor management of risks
  • Poor coordination of project activities
  • Poor leadership

However, you can turn around and use these as a career ladder to perform better as an engineering manager in any project.

What Are the Differences Between Engineering and Engineering Management?

At this time, it is best to dig in deeper and understand the difference between engineering and engineering management. The difference between the two personnel lies in the job description and level of experience and expertise.

Engineering entails the designing, construction, testing, and running of the production of devices, machines, and structures. Engineers achieve these by analyzing every engineering problem and offering a feasible solution to it. Depending on the type of engineering field they work in, engineers often supervise the ongoing activities to ensure what is on paper is produced as the final product.

On the other end, engineering management entails the organizational skills in overseeing entire engineering projects. An engineering manager is more experienced than a typical engineer and also possesses excellent management skills. Most times, engineering managers have more than associate degrees – they have master’s degrees and even doctorates. Engineering managers are responsible for developing schedules and plans to drive the engineering project towards meeting its goals.

What Are the Differences Between Project Management and Engineering Management?

While both are in managerial sectors, project and engineering management differ in education, career field, skillset, scope, and work environment. Based on their characteristics, you can draw a clear distinction between project management and engineering management.

Here are the characteristics of project management:

  • A project manager will oversee the progress of a specific project.
  • A project manager has an educational background in project management.
  • A project manager can oversee any project within the jurisdiction of their skill level.

Below are the characteristics of engineering management:

  • An engineering manager supervises a team of other engineers in an engineering project.
  • An engineering manager often has an engineering education background with a master’s degree.
  • An engineering manager blends engineering and management skills to lead people in a project. 

Benefits of Earning an Engineering Management Degree

Earning an engineering management degree instills a wide range of skills in you, both technical and interpersonal. A degree in engineering management is taught using practical workshops, case studies, lectures, laboratory sessions, individual and group project work, and engineering design activities. This teaching model is designed to ensure an engineering manager graduates with all the required skills to be competent in the highly competitive field. 

Here are some of the essential skills you will learn in an engineering management degree program:

  • The knowledge and experience of engineering management strategies, methods, and theories. 
  • A thorough comprehension of engineering implications, principles, theories, and other related issues.
  • Top-notch understanding of management skills and organizational conduct to help you with managerial duties.
  • Strong understanding of fundamental business principles.
  • A clear understanding of how business management practices will interact with engineering processes.
  • Exceptional knowledge in science and math concepts relevant to the engineering field.
  • Knowledge of the current issues affecting engineering management and the global market trends.
  • The technical know-how of using different engineering design software and models to derive solutions to problems.
  • Skills in performing basic manufacturing and quality testing processes.
  • The expertise to motivate, mentor, coach, and give constructive information to other company professionals.
  • Knowledge in economic, safety and health, and ethical and environmental concerns. 
  • Skills in using computer-aided design (CAD) as well as interpreting engineering drawings.
  • Strong project management, teamwork, and leadership skills.
  • Excellent problem-solving skills in both engineering and management.
  • Quantitative and analytical skills such as engineering and business data interpretation.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Self-management skills such as planning, scheduling, and meeting deadlines.
  • Skills in performing technical oral presentations as well as write performance reports and other documents.
  • Essential IT and research skills.
  • A foreign language depending on the modules and university placement.

What Does Having an Engineering Management Degree Allow You to Do With Your Career?

Many organizations and companies are investing in hiring engineers who are capable of integrating their technical skills, interpersonal skills, and business acumen. If you can do this, you are the prime candidate for an engineering management position. But what does having an engineering management degree allow you to do with your career? Whether you attended a bachelor’s degree or an MBA program, your functions remain the same.

Here are the five functions that this degree can allow you to do in your career:

  • Planning: Planning is essential in an engineering project since it outlines the activities to be implemented to reach your goals. You will be able to decide which processes are part of the plan. Formulating a plan and communicating it to other employees will be your role.
  • Organizing: You also get to carry out organizational duties. This involves sourcing finances, resources, and materials needed to make an engineering project efficient. This will save time, energy, and money.
  • Staffing: Having an engineering management degree will allow you to carry out the recruitment and positioning of employees in a project. This ensures the right person does the right job.
  • Leading: As an engineering manager, you will be required to be a leader. You will need to be authentic in exercising leadership duties in an engineering project.
  • Controlling: With an engineering management degree, you will need to control costs, production plans, and schedules to manage a project effectively and ensure it sticks within the set budget. 

These are the primary duties you can do when you have a degree in engineering management in your career. There are more to this, depending on the exact type of engineering field you choose.

Who Would Benefit from A Degree in Engineering Management?

Engineering management is a career that benefits a lot of professionals in the engineering field. There are many engineering careers, most of which highly rely on engineering managers for effective running and oversight of projects. Below is a list of the people who would benefit from a degree in engineering management:

  • Civil engineers
  • Electrical engineers
  • Project managers
  • Computer engineers
  • Chemical engineers
  • Software engineers
  • Agricultural engineers
  • Aeronautical engineers
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Nuclear engineers
  • Material science engineers

As a professional engineer in these fields, you will hugely benefit from earning a degree in engineering management. There is a high demand for engineering managers in the ever-growing engineering projects; therefore, a degree in this field will serve you right.

In Summary

Engineering management is one of the most lucrative careers growing and taking center stage in the engineering industry. It would be the best idea for you not to be hesitant in enrolling for a course in this field because you will reap more than enough benefits from it. 

As an engineering manager, you have tons of responsibilities to manage when in an engineering project. These range from typical engineering duties to managerial duties. It is a multi-professional career, and it entails a combination of skills from both careers. You need to meet specific requirements to be a competent engineering manager. One of these is the possession of an engineering degree, which forms the backbone of the project you will get to work on as an engineering manager.

There are as many types of engineering management as there are engineering professions. Every engineering profession requires an engineering manager to help oversee as well as supervise the entire project. Each engineering management is unique and different, and they require a different set of skills to perform efficiently. Among the diverse engineering management types, there are those you should keep an eye on, owing to their high demand. Do not sit back and watch civil engineering management jobs pass you by, as it is one of the top-rated engineering management jobs in terms of demand.

Having secured a degree in engineering management, you now have the task of working and enjoying the benefits that come with it. You will get to exercise your engineering and management skills in a higher capacity. You will have the chance to ensure the success of engineering projects as long as you diligently do your duties. 

Therefore, engineering management is a career you can never regret pursuing as long as you are purposeful. Taking up this career is comparable to investing in a top business- you are guaranteed top returns, a high-end job, and vast knowledge in engineering and business management. 

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