June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.300.1 - 11.300.13
Business and Management in the Engineering Curriculum
The rate of change of the nature of employment in UK engineering industry and commerce has greatly increased in recent years. The large ‘bureaucratic’ organisations and the large public utilities of the 1970s have been replaced with small, dynamic and flexible organisations which might only exist for several years. This change clearly requires that we produce graduates who are equipped with, not only technical engineering skills, but also with skills which are business-orientated. Here, we outline the six key areas which must inform the content of our engineering curricula.
In recent years, engineering industry has moved from a Machine Age to an Information Age where a culture of innovation is fostered, requiring an ability to manage change and develop strategies to respond quickly to competition. Clearly, with this change comes a need for a similar change in the skills of engineers. Richardson1 tells us that ‘traditionally engineers and scientists in the UK have seen themselves only as inventors or creators of systems and have left businessmen to worry about the possibility of their commercial exploitation’. Thus, there is now a need for a shift in the mindset of engineers, from seeing themselves as ‘just’ engineers, to being people who have a well-rounded understanding of, and an ability to make decisions within, the commercial environment. They must be businessmen and businesswomen as well as inventors and creators. It is logical, then, that if our businesses need a different type of engineer, then these new skills must be fostered, developed and learned by our engineering students. This paper aims to introduce the institutional and industrial context in which this necessity for a different engineer has developed. We then proceed to outline six factors which can be isolated as key areas for current engineering education. Of these six, two - Strategic Management and Knowledge Management - are introduced in this paper. Knowledge Management can be defined as the development and exploitation of an organisation’s information held on databases, staff skills, experience and knowledge and the inter-relationship of the different types of knowledge resource. Strategic Management can be defined as understanding where are you now, where you want to be and how you are going to get there. This paper suggests that engineers need to be developed in these areas.
Changes In Business that Call For a Change in Graduates
In the past, organisations tended to recruit from traditional universities, using the ‘knowledge base’ of the student as evidence that graduates could undertake tasks, or learn, in a ‘compliant, dutiful and reliable manner’2. However, in the context of the changing nature of the engineering industry, contemporary graduates will be required to be equipped with skills to accommodate these changes. Indeed graduates will have:
Bramhall, M., & Lawson, S., & Robinson, I. (2006, June), Business And Management In The Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1111
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