“The ideal engineer is a composite… He is not a scientist, he is not a mathematician, he is not a sociologist or a writer; but he may use the knowledge and techniques of any or all of these disciplines in solving engineering problems.”
N.W. Dougherty, professor of civil engineering at the University of Tennessee, wrote these words in 1955. His words are just as true today. 21st Century engineers require an interdisciplinary approach to solve today’s complex problems. The more they know about engineering management degrees online, the more prepared they are to generate innovative ideas and solutions that are socially conscious and sustainable.
Learn to Manage Projects and People
Companies and organizations are invested in hiring engineers who can integrate technical expertise, savvy business acumen, and effective interpersonal communication skills. Those who can do this are prime candidates for positions in management. Successful engineering managers understand that they must take an integrated view of management in order to streamline operational activities, meet deliverables on time, and achieve organization goals.
The first step in understanding management is to be aware of the five basic functions of management which are planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and controlling:Planning
In order to reach a goal, a plan must be put into place. Deciding which steps are a part of the plan is the manager’s duty. Conceiving a plan and communicating it clearly is essential.Organizing
Having materials, resources, and finances available, and well-organized is essential. Organization leads to efficiency which saves time, money, and energy.Staffing
Recruiting, selecting, and positioning employees is the first part of staffing. Making sure the right person is assigned to the right job is integral to completing a goal. Managers must remember that they have a responsibility to lead, as well. Communication and motivation are necessary for building highly functioning teams.Leading
It is common knowledge that not all managers are leaders and all leaders are not managers. It is incumbent upon managers to learn and practice solid effective leadership skills. Being authentic and connecting with people on an individual basis are first steps in being an effective leader.Controlling
Effective engineering managers look for constant improvement. Controlling costs, schedules, and production plans are all essential to managing a project well and finishing within or under budget. Controlling that which can be controlled, and responding quickly and efficiently, to those things that do not go according to plan, are all within the purview of an engineering manager.
Learn New Skills
Engineering managers are skilled in their technical area of expertise, as well as, business, law, ethics, technology, and leading teams. Below is a partial list of what engineer managers actually do:
- Drive decisions based on a working knowledge of stocks and bonds in capital markets
- Maintain a working knowledge of domestic and foreign industry trends
- Employ technological tools of the trade such as enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and supply chain management software
- Demonstrate a holistic view of the organization including relationships with suppliers and customers and work towards using those to achieve company goals
Engineering Managers Are In Demand
According to geteducted.com the field of engineering management is expected to grow nine percent through 2020. We can most likely see increases in research and development, architectural engineering, biomedical, and environmental engineering. Competition will be high for acquiring these positions so it is likely that companies will place a higher priority on candidates with advanced technical knowledge, excellent interpersonal communication skills, and expert business management and financial skills. Jessica McKellar, successful startup founder and software engineer writes:
"When engineering management is done right, you're focusing on three big things. You're directly supporting the people on your team; you're managing execution and coordination across teams; and you're stepping back to observe and evolve the broader organization and its processes as it grows."
Those studying to become engineering managers learn how to effectively utilize technical, financial, and human resources. They also hone their conceptual skills such as critical thinking, analytical thinking, and problem-solving. Engineering managers in training are not only advancing their career, they are contributing to the goals of their organization in ways that are both sustainable and impactful to the clients they serve and the population at large.