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Engineering Degree Planning for Engineering/Business. Please Help.

  1. Sep 15, 2008 #1
    Hey Guys.

    I'm a freshman EE and have been thinking about what my plan of work in terms of class schedule should be. I want to work as an engineer, but eventually would like to move up into management (not upper-level management because I still want to work be involved in projects) or a senior engineering position. I'd be a liar if I said that money had nothing at all to do with it, but I know that its definitely not everything. I'm not the most outgoing, energetics type of person, but I like to solve problems and budgeting money comes naturally to me (in my opinion lol) So basically, I'm planning to stick with my EE degree but am considering additional business courses so if I do manage to break into management/an MBA program) eventually, there wont be such a steep learning curve. I have several options.

    Just take a couple business classes as electives

    Minor in business administration or economics

    Apply for my school's BSEE/MSM program (Bachelors of Science in EE/Masters of Management dual degree)

    Complete a double degree in EE/CE (3 extra classes) + a minor in Mathematics (1 or 2 extra classes) and just focus on that until I get a job and ask to get an MBA after some years of work)

    I'm trying to roughly plan things out so that I don't unnecessarily waste time/money/opportunities that could have been used more wisely. By the way, I am also hoping to get into the co-op program..and will most likely stay in that for the whole 12 month duration if possible.

    By the way, I know that a degree doesn't necessarily 'entitle' me to a job, but I fell that it increases chances.

    SORRY FOR THE LONG READ but as you can tell, I am a tad bit confused on what to do so any input/comments/suggestions (etc) are appreciated.

    Thank You For Your Time!
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 15, 2008 #2


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    What type of management (i.e. middle or top-level management)?

    Most of the engineering managers I know (middle management) don't have MBA's, just a BS in engineering (and a lot of experience).

    For top-level management (Vice-president/executive type roles), MBA's are a great help for an engineer. Most MBA's programs require some bridge courses to prepare you for that program. Take a look at some of the programs online and see what you might need and consider taking them as electives.

    The BSEE/MSM program at NC State (I presume that is where you go based on your screen-name) is a great choice for what you are interested in. I personally would do that…but that’s just my opinion.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Sep 16, 2008 #3
    I aiming for middle to perhaps upper level management (considering I can make it that far, of course). To me, anything past that isn't engineering at all and is strictly business (Correct me if I am wrong).

    Just to clarify, would someone care to elaborate on the levels of management as far as engineering goes? It would really help me out. I suppose they would be a little different from a traditional business...maybe something like entry-level engineer, project leader, team leader, senior engineer, manager, department manager, Director, VP, President? Also, I know that it varies, but about how long does it usually take for someone with an engineering/business degree (such as that bsee/msm..and yes, I do go to NCSU) to work their way into a management level role?
  5. Sep 17, 2008 #4


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    It wouldn't be engineering in the sense you are thinking. The duties would entail budgeting, strategic planning, etc.

    There are generally accepted terms that describe management levels. However, they are not usually specific to departments. I've worked for four companies since I've been out of college and they all had just about the same layers of management. As far as the engineering department goes there is typically an Engineering Manager, a Director of Engineering, and then a General Manager of Engineering or Vice-President of Engineering (depending on the company).

    Senior engineers, project engineers, etc. are not managers per se, but they can perform some managerial functions. A project manager on the other hand is definitely a manager specifically tasked with the success of the project (engineering wise and financial wise).

    The amount of time it would take to move into a management level can vary significantly depending on the industry and company. Based on my experience, I would say around 10 years in an average size company should put you in the position to make the upward move. Some companies have specific management trainee programs that can accelerate it as well.

    Additionally, if you are interested in moving into management (in particular top-level), an MBA would be a better choice than a Masters in Management due to the stronger emphasis on the financial side. BTW, UNC-CH has one of the better MBA programs in the US and it is just down the road from NCSU.

    Hope this helps.

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