More than engineering skills
Whether you graduated 10 days ago or 10 years ago, your engineering degree places you in an elite group. Less than 5% of undergraduate degrees earned in the US are in engineering and yet engineers represent 33% of the CEOs of S&P 500 companies. Obviously, there is a spark of leadership in engineering that should be nurtured in today’s world.
There are also leadership lessons we can learn from years past. Consider the building techniques of a 12th century engineering marvel, the Duomo atop the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy.
This amazing structure was built from 25,000 tons of brick hundreds of feet above the streets of Florence. Bricks were lifted by wooden cranes and gearing centuries before Young's Modulus explained the relationship between stress and strain in materials. Engineers selected materials based on the humors of the wood—whether it was hard, soft, wet or dry.
Unfortunately, this lack of fundamental knowledge led to many accidents and many were injured or killed as this equipment failed.
The Duomo can also serve as a cautionary tale about the need for engineers to act as leaders. Rather than focusing on solving for just the next task at hand, today’s management theory developed by scholars such as John Kotter can provide insights into connecting the real budgets, plans and the people in an organization to a leader’s vision.
Leaders have more than engineering skills, they can see a path and build a contributing coalition that helps them get there. Your advantage can come from your technical experience but putting management principles into action takes this to the next level. In other words, as an engineer, you can see all 25,000 bricks, but as a leader, you can see how the project fits into the success of the entire organization.
The focus of engineering management in practice is the creation of a balance between theory and the applied knowledge of what really happens in industry every day. As an engineer, executive and management scholar the best reward has been the cultivation of these best practices in management in the technical and scientific professionals I have worked with.
The Master’s program at Temple Engineering includes respected researchers and experienced professionals with years of leadership behind them. The courses work to develop an engineer’s skills and abilities to lead for innovation, productivity and most critically, the leadership of people and teams.
I invite you to learn more about Engineering Management by contacting me, or joining me at an upcoming information session. I look forward to meeting you and learning about your path to leadership.
Associate Professor of Instruction
Director of the Center for Engineering Management & Technology