The engineering profession is growing, as is the demand for capable leaders. The transition into business administration is not easy, however, as many engineers are not taught the necessary business skills in their traditional curriculum. For those looking to make the leap into leadership positions, a master’s in engineering management (MEM) may be the solution for bridging this knowledge gap and building the skills necessary for long-term success.
MEM programs, like the one at Stevens University, focus on the three main skills an engineering manager needs to support upper management: understanding the problem, assessing the data, and making a business decision. These programs also tend to operate more like they’re for an MBA than an engineering degree. For example, the Cockrell School at the University of Texas stresses that a successful engineering manager requires leadership, legal, financial, and marketing training.
According to Dr. Koonce, the Associate Dean at Ohio University, the reason for the MEM’s focus on business is that “After a couple of promotions, [an engineer’s] job doesn’t require so much technical skill anymore… Instead, they need new skills to help them successfully lead and manage technical teams.”
As shown in the table below, all the schools researched offer their MEM program online, though not always on-campus. This makes a lot of sense, as many engineers will want to continue working as they complete the program so they can still pay their bills and put the time in to earn further promotions. This mentality has also created quite a boom in the online market for engineering master’s degrees, providing students with many more options than there ever were before.
If you are considering an MEM program, keep in mind that they are generally targeted at working professionals. In fact, many programs require you to have at least 2-5 years of experience before they’ll even consider your application. The reason being that most engineering teams will want to know you’ve earned your chops technically before they will be willing to trust you as a manager.