I would like to welcome you to the monthly newsletter for August. I hope that you have managed to have at least a small break from work and studies over the summer time (or winter time for those in the Southern Hemisphere) and that you are rested for the coming period. I would like to remind everyone of the virtual ASEM International Annual Conference (IAC) that we have coming up in October – please consider attending if you have not yet registered. The conference has been organized to have several parallel technical sessions across the field of engineering management alongside many of the other usual parts of the IAC, such as expert panel sessions, keynotes and the awards ceremony. Therefore, the virtual conference should hopefully provide lots of opportunities for interacting with other attendees as well as watching technical sessions related to your areas of interest. More details on the program will be released as we become closer to the date of the conference but I am sure we will have a packed conference agenda with many highlights that will be of interest to participants.
In this introduction I wanted to reflect on how engineers can become more innovative and entrepreneurial – and why do engineers need to be enterprising. Engineers of course receive an education across a number of core academic areas, such as engineering mathematics, design, materials, thermodynamics and cycles, fluid mechanics and engineering processes. While there will be some differences associated with the particular branch of engineering that is being studied, such as mechanical, electrical, chemical and civil engineering, there will also be many common areas – especially in the numerical aspects. There is also an increasing recognition that an engineering education should include development of the necessary professional or enabling skills, including project management, team working as well as communications skills. Such competencies can, for example, be developed via a group design project. As part of this wider set of skills and knowledge, there is also a recognition that engineers can benefit from receiving an education in innovation and entrepreneurship.
The ability to translate an idea or invention into a new product or service as part of the NPD (new product development) process is a useful skill to have across a range of industrial sectors, including manufacturing (such as automotive and aerospace) as well as other sectors such as FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods). There are other cases where an engineer may need to head up a new business area within an existing company – the development of the business area will require a robust business plan in order to secure the backing of senior management. Furthermore, an engineer may want to branch out and develop a new startup offering – again there is a need for a compelling business plan in order to attract investment capital. In these cases, engineers can benefit from having a solid awareness and grounding in the skills and knowledge associated with innovation and entrepreneurship (as well as intrapreneurship).
Engineering management (EM), as a complement to other engineering disciplines (such as mechanical, electrical, etc.) and indeed other STEM disciplines, is the ideal vehicle to deliver these enabling skills related to innovation and entrepreneurship. A quick look over the domains of the EMBoK 5th Edition and we can readily see there are several areas that directly underpin innovation and entrepreneurship, namely Leadership & Organizational Management; Strategic Planning and Management; Financial Resource Management; Project Management; Management of Technology, Research, and Development; and Legal Issues in Engineering
Management domains. Consequently, EM is well suited to help all engineers, including students as well as practitioners and educators, become more innovative and entrepreneurial.
Dr. Simon Philbin