Perspectives on Engineering Management in South Africa

19 Feb 2017 6:00 AM | Anonymous
By Dr Arnesh TelukdariePrTech Eng


South Africa (SA) is considered the powerhouse of the African continent.  SA is home to some of the largest engineering companies in Africa with the best engineering skills and infrastructure. Key considerations for engineering management in SA include both historic and current demands. The engineering courses on offer include: chemical, mechanical, civil, aeronautical, metallurgical, agricultural, industrial, and mining engineering.  There isn’t a core undergraduate Engineering Management course although industrial engineering is considered a close match.

Historically, SA has delivered engineering through universities and universities of technology.  All institutions are State funded with very little private institutions in engineering. All programs are reviewed every four to five years by the Engineering Council of SA (ECSA). Graduates of these institutions follow a rigid development programme to be registered at ECSA once their undergraduate degree is completed. Engineering schools have been at the forefront of research with significant government funding and company funded projects. Research is diverse and researchers are globally recognized.

With the transitioning out of Apartheid, the student demographics and requirements have shifted significantly. The universities have diversified and grown into recruiting students from the rest of Africa. Engineering Management is considered a specialized form of management providing core expertise and concepts. Solutions are offered at postgraduate level across different institutions in SA.

Engineering in South Africa

In SA Engineering Management is not a core engineering qualification requirement but serves as an alternative to business leadership programs. The South African core engineering employment industries include: petrochemical, rail, energy, engineering consulting, IT, construction, manufacturing, automotive, pharmaceutical, mining, and agriculture. The Engineering Council of SA is the only registration body with over 26,000 Professionals registered (link: 2014/15 Annual Report).  The delivery of engineering qualifications is through 16 universities and universities of technology with 97% of South African engineers graduating in SA.  Indeed the ECSA survey from 2014 also indicates that 42% of all undergraduates further their studies to a masters or PhD level. Most engineers (37%) choose an MBA as their post-graduate degree with engineering management clustered as a second option (25%) under other post-graduate options.  The majority of engineers are employed at the economic hub of SA Gauteng.  Gauteng also hosts 6 campuses of the major universities.

Engineering Management Education in South Africa

A synopsis of universities offering several qualifications in Engineering Management specific to South Africa inclusive of portfolios, research areas, and contact persons is provided below.


The university of Johannesburg has a postgraduate school of Engineering Management under the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment. The Engineering Management programme at UJ has existed since 1996 and presents two masters and two doctoral programs. The master’s programme makes provision for course work and full research programs. The programs are offered on a full-time and part-time modular basis over a minimum of 12months.

Degree portfolios

MPhil, MEng, DPhil, and DEng degree portfolios are offered respectively in UJ, all undertaken in English as a medium of communication. The delivery of the MEng and MPhil programme is split into two different models either full research or course work (50% coursework abd 50% minor dissertation).  

Research domains

Research domains offered include product development, manufacturing, construction, design engineering, industrial engineering, technology, electrical engineering, systems, production or any other field that employs personnel who perform an engineering function.


The University of Pretoria offers Engineering Management under the Graduate School of Technology Management.

Degree portfolios

The programme is offered on a part-time modular basis over two years. Qualifications awarded include MEng and MSc depending on the undergraduate qualification of the student and all are offered in English as a medium of communication. Programme structure, content, and duration are nominally the same in both cases.

Research domains

Research domains include asset and maintenance management, sustainable development, engineering services management, and systems engineering.


Stellenbosch University offers Engineering Management under the Department of Industrial Engineering. The department hosts two post graduate study domains: Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management.

Degree portfolios

In each study domain, there are three different programmes, i.e. the Post Graduate Diploma in Engineering (PGDip), the Masters in Engineering (MEng) and Philosophy Doctorate (Ph.D.).

The delivery of the MEng programme is split into two different models, namely structured and research. These options add up to eight different possible post graduate qualifications for students in a variety of research areas.

Research domains

Research domains include asset management, engineering and sustainable systems, enterprise engineering, health systems engineering and innovation, manufacturing, resource efficient production engineering, supply chain management, systems modelling, operations research and decision support, and value capture systems.


Northwest University offers development and management under the Faculty of Engineering, Centre for Research and Continued Engineering Development (CRCED). CRCED is located on the Potchefstroom main campus located in NWU (Vaal) and a satellite campus at Pretoria. 

Degree portfolios

CRCED hosts two post graduate study domains: MEng. Development and Management, and Philosophy Doctorate (Ph.D.) Development and Management. The MEng programme comprises 50% coursework and 50% research-based dissertation.

Research domains

Energy management:  Research at NWU includes domains of Industrial energy simulation, optimization, and systems development, control systems and energy systems.

Bio-engineering:   Research domains include metabolic and energy-related conditions.


The University of Cape Town offers Engineering management under the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment.

Degree portfolios

Qualifications awarded include post-graduate diploma (PG. dip) in Engineering Management which runs for a minimum duration of 18 months, comprising 120 credits course work.

MPhil Engineering Management with a minimum duration of 12 months comprising either 60 credits course work and 120 credits research dissertation or 180 credits research dissertation is also offered.  .

Finally, DPhil Engineering Management with a minimum duration of 24 months comprising 360 credits.

Research domains

Research interest undertaken at UCT engineering management include energy research, manufacturing, bio-engineering, and absorption, industrial aerodynamics, design and aerodynamics.


As can be seen there is a significant need for engineers and engineering managers in South Africa and this is accompanied by an established university provision for engineering management teaching and research.  In conclusion, there is much scope for ASEM to make a positive impact in South Africa.

Dr Arnesh TelukdariePrTech Eng

Post Graduate School of Engineering Management
Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment 
University of Johannesburg 
+27 11 559 1736 
061 450 5948

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