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Engineering Engineering/Engineering Project Management

  1. Aug 14, 2009 #1

    At my university there are a few different ways to earn an engineering degree, I am having a bit of trouble deciding on which might suit me.

    One way is by completing a 4-year BE in the discipline of your choice. The other way is by completing a 3-year bachelor of science (majoring in an engineeing "system") followed by a 2-year professional masters of engineering.

    The BE way means I would be an accredited engineer after the 4-years, the BSci way I would not be an accredited engineer until completing the masters (5 years).

    The first 2 years of the two pathways are exactly the same. I am currently half-way through my second year of uni, and am currently enrolled in the BSci. I am interested in majoring in either civil (structural) or mechanical. I am fairly sure that going the BSci way would make me a better engineer, since i would be taking more classes etc, but i was unsure of how an employer might view the BSci/ME combo compared to the straight BE... Any insight here?

    I am also considering a masters in engineering management or project managemnt in order to be able to move into the management side of engineering later in my career. How important would a management qulification like this be in actually getting into mangment? As in would this masters be worth getting or is it easy enough to get into the management side of things after a few years experience simply as an engineer??

    What i am thinking is that if a management qualification is not strictly nessecary then the BSci way might be the best way since i will get to take more eng subjects. On the other hand, if it is nessecary then perhaps the 4-year BE might suit me better so as to complete management masters sooner whilst still being a qualified engineer.

    Any help would be really appreciated, coming up to decision time soon and not sure what to do :(

    Thanks alot,

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 20, 2009 #2
    Typically an accredited bachelors degree in engineering will get you into the same jobs as a masters degree from the same school. I would only suggest the 5th year if you think it will help you make up for a lower GPA. You can easily decide to go back to a 1yr masters program at the school of your choice later on, and many companies will pay you to get your masters part time while you work.

    Also, the mechanical degree is much more respected than the civil degree. Mechanical is considered "real" engineering and will get you access to most types of jobs, while a civil degree is limiting. A mechanical engineer should have no trouble breaking into civil, but the reverse is not true.

    This type of degree is usually NOT helpful. Engineering departments value engineering skills and don't require anything but an engineering degree for management positions. The management profession also values an engineering degree at least as much as a business degree. If you want to move into the business / management side of things, wait a few years and get a legit MBA or just go directly.

    Now that I think about it, there's a good paper on ENGR jobs on my school's website: http://www.trincoll.edu/StudentLife/CareerServices/students/eng_resources/ [Broken]
    Click the linked "After Trinity" paper.

    Note: I have a BS in mechanical engineering, and I am currently in the Operations Management Leadership Program at GE Energy Infrastructure.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Aug 31, 2009 #3

    So would others also agree that an engineering degree is sufficient for most engineering management/ project management positions?

    Would love some more insight,

  5. Aug 31, 2009 #4
    I don't necessarily think this is true. Taking more classes can expose you to a variety of things, however, it does not make you a better engineer.

    To tell you the truth, I don't think the path you take matters. Do whatever you think is best for you. I am opposed to spending more than the necessary amount of time just to get an engineering degree.

    Both choices have their benefit. For one thing the 5 year choice guarantees you a Bachelor and maters in 5 years. However, with this choice you do not have an Engineering undergraduate degree, which might adversely affect you when you try to apply for an engineering job.

    This is exactly why I say, it doesn't matter what you pick.
  6. Aug 31, 2009 #5
    The one thing I would add is that it depends what you mean by "project management." If you are talking about engineering projects then what I said still holds. Project management has a broad definition though. If you are looking at management positions within engineering, a master's in engineering is probably the most useful degree. If you are looking for management outside of engineering, an MBA would be the most useful degree.

    Neither degree is required though. If you look at the top business schools, about 85% of each class is interested in a career change. Those interested in management within their previous fields can generally get there without an additional degree. The bottom line is that no one will hire an engineer without experience to be a manager. Once you have experience, you will be promoted based on your work and your behavior and the impression you've made on your boss and HR. Rarely will your degree be a factor at that point (unless you are moving to a new field that your degree may help qualify you for).

    There's also a social factor involved with management degrees in engineering organizations. Few people working in engineering organizations have these degrees, and they all think they are doing just fine without them. The engineers I know with MBA's mostly talk about how the degree helped them personally to be better at their jobs. Many companies fund part-time degrees, and people who finish their MBAs do not get immediate pay increases as a result, for example. If they are lucky, the MBA may factor into their salary at the time of their next promotion. This is in contrast to outside of engineering where top MBA grads can double their salaries after finishing their degree. Despite the fact that many top MBA grads are engineers, none return to engineering. Management degrees are simply not valued as much in engineering as in other fields.

    I would honestly be worried about someone (incorrectly) thinking that I am stuck up and that I think I should be running the place with a management degree and no experience. I would also be worried that they may think my degree was less rigorous because of the added fluff management classes. A master's in engineering, on the other hand, can be valuable. Why not finish the BE and apply to higher ranked 1 year programs outside of your undergrad institution? Why not get a job and have your company pay for your education part time while you work and gain experience? These two options almost always make sense over 5 year undergrad/grad programs.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2009
  7. Sep 1, 2009 #6
  8. Sep 1, 2009 #7


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    I disagree that an engineering management degree is not helpful. The knowledge is actually quite helpful.

    Unfortunately the second part is mostly true however. Although engineering departments do not necessarily require a management type degree or minor...they really should. Most of the engineering managers I know and have met are extremely poor managers but very good engineers.

    A proper understanding of how to be a manager requires formal education in areas such as Engineering Management, Engineering Economics and Project Management, to name a few.

    Quite often people forget that being a manager means that you actually have to manage your direct reports. It's not just a promotion due to seniority.

  9. Sep 1, 2009 #8


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    Depends on your definition of sufficient.

  10. Sep 1, 2009 #9
    My brother has been a civil engineer for nearly a decade both in the US and abroad and I asked him exactly this question about and ME moving into CE a little while back. He'd never seen it happen, and knows of a few people who tried. It wasn't impossible for them to get a job, but it was difficult, and management felt they had very few useful skills. I got the impression that even if they were offered a job, it was a technical one that they really wouldn't want. While I'll certainly admit its possible to move from ME to CE, my anecdotal evidence suggests that "no trouble" isn't a good description.

    I actually asked him about it because a friend was trying to move from ME to CE. It never panned out.

    I would certainly agree that MEs have more prestige (there's that word again), and it shows up in their paychecks.

    I have a certain fondness for CE though. Not just because family are involved, but because it's the kind of job that's really hard to outsource. You can move a metric ton of work making aluminum cutting inserts overseas, but the guy who oversees the bridge being built has to be right there.
  11. Sep 1, 2009 #10
    Agreed... "no trouble" was too strong. How easy the swap is depends on the particular job. I was also talking about jobs directly out of undergrad. Once real experience is included it can definitely become more difficult to do any sort of career changing within engineering. Also, to the comment about the knowledge from management training being useful, I agree that the knowledge can be helpful, and I've heard as much from engineers with MBAs. I just don't think the degree itself is very helpful, while a master's degree in engineering can have more of a direct benefit.
  12. Sep 1, 2009 #11
    Outsourcing shouldn't be the only criterion for making career decision. Outsourcing is not even a problem IMO. People just need to continue developing their skills even after the graduation and be more flexible about the changes.
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