Engineers, at the beginning of their career often focus on mastering the technical aspects and responsibilities of their job. After establishing an effective skill set and a firm work ethic, some engineers feel ready for more – more responsibility, more variety in their daily tasks, and more of a desire to contribute to their company’s ability to achieve its strategic goals.
One way to accomplish this is by becoming a manager. The Master of Science Engineering Management program from Kettering University Online delivers the holistic leadership and communication skills needed to manage a high technology, cross-disciplinary team.
Engineering management lies at the intersection of applying sound engineering principles to projects and having the savvy business acumen necessary for all financial, administrative, and planning activities that support project development from conception to completion.
Engineering managers lead research and development teams working on new products, processes, or designs, or working to improve existing ones.
Engineering Management: Areas of Responsibility
Engineering managers typically have responsibility for:
- Supervising engineers or engineering technologists
- Managing projects
- Working with clients
- Providing leadership, motivation, advice and resources to their team
- Keeping abreast of industry changes and regulations
In addition to supervising engineers, engineering managers work across departments.
Organizations place a high value on engineering managers who have the ability to listen well, negotiate conflict, and effectively communicate. A graduate degree can help hone those important and valued skills.
New Skill Sets
Courses such as International Business, Financial Management, Managing People and Organizations, among others, showcase the combined academic and industry experience of Kettering’s faculty.
They also highlight Kettering University Online’s mantra “learn today- use tomorrow.” In addition to the academic content, students are challenged to stretch beyond their comfort zone and learn how to:
- Be better prepared to navigate human resource issues
- Look at the big picture and motivate their employees to do the same
- Delegate appropriately
- Provide clear expectations to employees
- Seek advice from other leaders and alumni who have made the successful transition from engineer to manager
- Lead by example
- Weigh in on budget recommendations and insights
- Be prepared to take risks
- Solve complex problems regarding change management
Personality Traits of Engineering Managers
It can be argued that there are several specific personality traits that most engineers and engineering managers share. Among them are curiosity, critical thinking abilities, a creative spirit, effective communication, and a collaborative spirit.
Engineers are curious because they want to know how and why things work as they do. For many engineers, once they have this understanding, their thinking morphs into how they can make it better, faster, and more efficient for less money!
2. Critical Thinking
Engineers rely on their critical thinking abilities in every stage of their work, particularly when it comes to decision-making. Engineers, who can think critically, are able to navigate the wide variety of technical, administrative, policy, and interpersonal communication challenges that arise within a day’s work or a project’s timeline.
3. A Creative Spirit
In addition to having technical experience, engineers also must be creative. At first glance, it would seem that in a field structured by math and logic there would be little to no room for a creative spirit but when one looks more deeply, the creative engineer is changing the way we live and work as creativity often spurs innovation.
4. Effective Communication
An engineer, in any industry, can have brilliant ideas for a project but if he or she cannot articulate those ideas to management, teammates, clients, and other stakeholders they are of no use. Effective engineering managers understand that clear concise written and verbal communication is the key to giving ideas life.
Succinct communication becomes even more important in today’s global business context where language and meaning can become lost in translation. Furthermore, understand how to research and communicate from the experts in the field takes an engineer to the level of a true engineer manager.
5. A Collaborative Spirit
Engineers do not work in a vacuum; they work with other engineers, supply chain management professionals, financial and project managers, and others. In stark contrast to the traditional development method of a product, concurrent engineering embraces both iteration and collaboration.
Using cross-functional teams at the start of the development process, including representatives from manufacturing, hardware and software design, and marketing, ensures integrated development aimed at satisfying a particular customer need. The more easily an engineer can collaborate with a team, the more likely the project will be successful.
Many professionals in the engineering field are deciding which path to take to reach their next level of professional development. If you are an engineer, scientist, or computer scientist wanting to add management and leadership expertise to your already established technical skill set, enrolling in Kettering University Online’s Master of Science Engineering Management program allows you to combine your engineering knowledge and apply it to a project management context, distinguish yourself among your colleagues, and add to your salary.
Below are current salary expectations for those who graduate with an engineering management degree:
- Corporate Executive Management: $179,929
- VP, Manufacturing/Production: $183,400
- Director, Manufacturing/Production: $137,100
- Engineering Management: $106,400
- Research & Development/Product Development Management: $110,700
Remember that it is your technical skills as an engineer that get you hired but your managerial skills that get you promoted!
Contact Kettering University Online for more information about taking the next step in your engineering career by getting a masters in engineering management online.