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ABET Accredited Undergraduate Engineering Management Education in the United States
Edgar R. Blevins Mechanical Engineering Department, Southern University
Abstract Engineering management education is rapidly growing but programs are very limited across the country. This paper examines the approaches that many universities in the United States are taking to offer engineering management to undergraduate students. This survey of engineering programs, accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology (ABET), examines who, what, why and how engineering management is being taught to undergraduate students in the U.S. It includes a look at the issues in undergraduate engineering management programs and what may be driving the development of these programs. This includes defining engineering management, examining similar programs, and the justification of undergraduate engineering management education.
Introduction In recent years, engineering management programs have seen rapid growth. However, most of this growth has been at the graduate level. These programs have been created to address the fact that many engineers eventually become managers. These engineers for the most part have very little, if any, management skills at the bachelor level. Traditionally, companies have promoted engineers that have demonstrated very good technical skills to higher paying management positions. Some of these engineers have become terrible managers simply because they lack the different skills needed to deal with the human element of the job. The way engineers are perceived to manage is comically portrayed in a national comic strip. This comic strip depicts an engineer working for a manager that has no idea how to handle many of what seems to be typical office issues. This image portrays the way many view an engineering manager. The recent focus on engineering management is an attempt to address this problem. Engineering Management programs have been developed to provide both a technical and a managerial background to engineering graduates.
William Lannes (2001) IEEE Transaction on Engineering Management article titled “What is Engineering Management?” references several authors to answer this question. 7 Lannes states that several writers use a narrow definition of engineering management like Babcock’s (1996) definition of engineering management as the direct supervisor of engineers or of engineering functions. Thamhain (1992) states that engineering management is fundamentally made up of three different skill categories: leadership skills, technical skills, and administrative skills. 14 Lannes also stated that there is an increasing trend to give engineering management assignments to recent engineering graduates as soon as possible. In addition, the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has also put more focus on including engineering management education in undergraduate engineering programs.4 This growth may be the result of a better understanding of the discipline and its importance. Industry and ABET recognizes that engineers today need not only have strong technical skills, but also must have management skills to help them with the organizational, staffing, planning, financing, and the human element in production, research and service issues they will soon face. Palmer (2001) states that a different type of engineer wants a degree that
Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education
Blevins, E. (2002, June), Abet Accredited Undergraduate Engineering Management Education In The United States Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. https://peer.asee.org/10410
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