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Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. Grand Central Publishing: New York (2016). 303 + xv pages. US$28.00 (hardcover).
Like many companies today, ExxonMobil’s new campus at The Woodlands, Texas, features an open work space without traditional offices. The theory behind open work spaces is to drive collaboration and the chance encounters that will trigger an idea that leads to the next great thing.
Unfortunately, as Cal Newport argues in his new book, “Deep Work,” such open work spaces not only fail to drive magical chance encounters but are indeed quite harmful to the productivity of workers. Newport defines “deep work” as “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit” (pg. 3). He contrasts deep work with “shallow work,” defined as “non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted” (pg. 6).
The full book review (PDF) is available here: ASEM_Book_Review-Deep_Work-TJK.pdf
Please note that there is still time to register for our last webinar in the four part webinar series on Management Practices of Learning from Errors in High Risk Industries. Details below.
August 8 - Management practices of learning from errors in high risk industries (Nicolas Dechy, Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire) - 1:00 PM EDT. Register here: https://www.asem.org/event-2568621
August 8 - Management practices of learning from errors in high risk industries (Nicolas Dechy, Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire) - 1:00 PM EDT. Register here: https://www.asem.org/event-2568621
As part of our selection process of the annual ASEM Eschenbach Award for the Best Engineering Management Journal (EMJ) Paper, I recently reviewed all papers in the 2016 volume (28) of the EMJ. There is a great array of current EM topics covered in this issue including a special issue focused on military applications in engineering management. I know selection of this year’s best paper will be difficult for the selection committee as the quality of the papers in this issue is excellent. Thank you to our co-editors, Toni Doolen and Eileen Van Aken, for their outstanding leadership of EMJ. The 2017 Volume 29, Issue 2 is now available at Taylor and Francis online.
We are terribly saddened by the death of one of our past leaders of ASEM. Joette Sonnenberg made significant contributions to the engineering management field and to ASEM as a Society. She will be missed by all who knew her.
As I reviewed this month’s eNews, I was struck by ASEM’s tagline, Serving Engineering Managers Worldwide. I am very proud of ASEM and how we have expanded our global reach while continuing to preserve our EM community. No matter how much we expand, I continue to interact with and grow from my interactions with EM pioneers, practitioners, and students. I believe it is the diversity of our membership that bring a unique professional opportunity to our members. ASEM is an organization of practitioners and academics, diverse technical skills, many generations, and wide array of cultural backgrounds. All of the makings of a great team. ASEM strives to bring value to all of its members. If you would like to get more involved with ASEM or have ideas on how we can increase value to our members, please let me or any other members of the ASEM leadership team know.
By Paul Kauffmann
A delegation from ASEM recently visited China as part of our ongoing collaboration efforts with the Division of Engineering Management of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE). The CAE is a highly-regarded organization and is roughly equivalent to the National Academy of Engineering in the US. Details on the meetings and the various initiatives will be provided in the next E-news. The purpose of this article is to provide one global perspective (in this case, China) on engineering management and the scope of areas generally considered under our EM umbrella. This question is an important one for the society since we are currently working on the next editions of the Engineering Management Body of Knowledge (EMBOK) and the Engineering Management Handbook. It is critical that these revisions reflect the global views and implementations of our profession.
Photo credit: Simon Philbin
The meetings with the CAE were held in the context of an international conference covering several critical topics: Engineering Science and Technology Development Strategy- Clean Energy Technology and Engineering Management.” Along with the CAE, the other co-sponsor was the Shenua Group. If you Google this firm you will see it is the largest integrated coal and mining organization in the world with 210,000 employees. So what is the first “take away” from this basic information? Considering that the CAE has a Division of Engineering Management and the Shenhua Group (a major industrial presence in China) supports a major conference (attended by three Nobel laureates) with engineering management as a focus, a logical conclusion is that the importance of EM is well recognized and has a high profile in China.
The second take away is based on a sample size of n=1 (this conference) and involves the question of what China considers to be engineering management. We have this good-natured debate within the society. Some of our members are “people and team” oriented, some are “systems” oriented, and still others might be “quantitative methods” oriented (e.g. risk, decision science, etc.). I was curious if there was a particular spin at this conference. Based on the papers/ presentations, one could make the argument that this group sees EM covering these key areas:
This conference appears to be an indicator that the China perspective of EM is doing well and is big picture oriented: innovation, strategy, project management, and broad science related disciplines. We look forward to growing our collaboration and involvement in China. Globally, it is critical the society stay abreast of these evolving views and we particularly need our practicing professionals from all countries and parts of the world to get involved and provide input to the next editions of the EMBOK and Handbook. Please contact me or Hiral Shah if you want to become involved.
Registration for our 2017 ASEM International Annual Conference is open! I realize as I look forward to our conference each year that it feels like a family reunion where I get to catch up with old friends and meet new colleagues who are also passionate about EM. I hope to see each of you there. Huntsville is a great town, especially for engineers! Our IAC committee has planned an excellent technical program coupled with lots of opportunities to enjoy yourself with fellow EMs.
Our ASEM Delegation to China received a warm welcome from the Chinese Academy of Engineering. I love the photo below of our Executive Director Paul Kaufmann and Associate Executive Director Dave Wyrick on stage discussing the importance of EM towards building clean energy sourcing around the world. What a distinguished panel! More details about our partnership will be published in our upcoming issue of the Practice Periodical.
Please take the time to nominate your fellow ASEM members for a 2017 ASEM award. Nominations are due June 30, 2017 and are summarized below. As summer approaches, I hope you are able to relax and rejuvenate as we work to make the world a better place through EM practice.
ASEM’s tagline is Serving Engineering Managers Worldwide. I have been a member of ASEM for almost 20 years and it has been exciting to watch our Society’s global research expand tremendously over the past two decades. Just a quick glance at the membership of ASEM’s International Committee is clear evidence of this as our committee includes members from Belgium, Brazil, China, Denmark, Great Britain, South Africa, Spain, and the United States. This committee under the leadership of International Director Simon Philbin has increased ASEM’s service to our global members through formation of new international ASEM sections, support of more expansive, online professional certification, focused international activities at our annual conference, and international engineering management conference planning efforts. Just last year our international student membership increased 210%! Our Society has made great strides in creating an inclusive global professional network for all of our members, and I look forward to seeing where our reach expands in the coming years.
Please consider nominating your peers and colleagues for a 2017 ASEM award. Each year ASEM recognizes our members, chapters, sections, and community leaders who have made significant contributions to the engineering management practice and to ASEM itself. Nominations are due June 30, 2017, and are summarized below and detailed on our website.
We received a record number of abstract submissions in response to our International Annual Conference call for presentations, tutorials, workshops, and panels. I hope you are making plans to join us in Huntsville, October 18-21, 2017. The conference program is shaping up to provide interesting and value adding content for industry and academic engineering managers worldwide. Our conference committee is planning dynamics keynote speakers, interactive panel sessions, professional development workshops and several networking events.
I am pleased to announce a new ASEM Student Chapter at Northeastern University. According to their chapter advisor Dr. Mohammad Dehghani, their Master of Science in Engineering Management offers graduate students an opportunity to develop both technical expertise and business competence that is in high demand among prospective technology-based employers. The new chapter will focus on helping develop student skills outside of coursework by participating in professional development activities with their peers, alumni, employers, and the ASEM network. The chapter will be led by President Neel Dalal. New ASEM student chapters are always welcome. Inquires can be sent to Bill Schell at StudentMembership@asem.org.
This month the ASEM executive committee and board of directors held our semi-annual meetings in Huntsville, AL at our conference venue. Celebrating engineering success is prevalent throughout the city, and Huntsville will be a great place to hold our annual conference in the fall. The conference team is building an outstanding program featuring engineering leaders in accordance with the engineering management and systems engineering conference theme.
During our meeting, the board of directors approved a new strategic plan for ASEM which includes a new set of society objectives and metrics that work towards our mission to advance and disseminate the engineering management body of knowledge, develop engineering solutions to management challenges, and promote professional development and networking among members. You can see the new plan here .
Other meeting discussions focused on professional certification online delivery and best practices, building new domestic and international collaborations with society, industry, and academic partners, and annual conference planning. The underlying theme throughout the meetings was bringing value to our ASEM membership.
Interview of the ASEM 2016 Engineering Manager of the Year
"I never said I cannot do something."
One thing is clear when you get a chance to meet Major-General (Belgian Air Force) Albert Husniaux, ASEM’s 2016 Engineering Manager of the Year (EMOY) - he is a passionate man. His passions include his family, his colleagues, and the field of engineering management. When nominated for the EMOY award, he reported that he expressed disbelief. He visited ASEM's website to learn more about the society and to look over the list of past award recipients. Then, he shared, he realized the commitment that the award represented, that this was an important honor, and he knew that he needed to be in attendance to receive this honor. "It is an obligation to use your talents," he told Alice Squires, ASEM’s Functional Director for Product Development, and me, Tricia Simo Kush, ASEM’s Director for Communications.as we interviewed him. Over the next hour, it became clear how his sense of entrepreneurship, ingenuity, innovation and collaboration has guided his work and shaped his talents.
Trish: Do you sometimes have difficulty getting folks to share knowledge?
Major-general Albert Husniaux: I try to evolve, I shift based on what I hear. Knowledge and governance are the keys – start with governance and then shift to knowledge. The DNA of our organization is to share our knowledge. If you are not willing to share your knowledge, you are not part of the game. (click to Tweet) People see the benefit of contributing. In a cooperative setting, it’s no good if you are not having fun. I’ve been having fun for 41 years now.
T: What went through your mind when you received the Engineering Manager of the Year award?
AH: I thought why me, there are many engineering managers in the United States? This is the cherry on the cake at the end of my career. I took the time to come here. If you get the award, you need to show up. Most of the time, if there is a will there is a way. I made the necessary arrangements to take care of my family and I am here. I wish my wife could be here, as my partner in crime.
T: Who else or what else do you draw your motivation from?
AH: I come from a very modest family but I’ve always been lucky. I have met a lot of beautiful inspiring people who believed in me, challenged me, inspired me, and pushed my boundaries. I was born in 1957 – the year Sputnik I orbited the Earth before falling back into the Earth’s atmosphere. In 1969, there was the man on the moon. My childhood was dominated by space. When I saw Neil Armstrong putting his foot on the moon, I wanted to be an aerospace engineer. We could not afford school so I joined the military and became a Master of Science in Engineering and from there I got a lot of opportunities to do a lot of things.
My country has 50 nationalities. In northern Belgium, they speak Flemish. Since my father was French speaking, I went into the 1B group. My teacher in my first class gave me extra work – I spent time with their family, as my mother was ill. Next year I moved to the 1A group. At 14, I wrote letters to two members of parliament and one of the members agreed, and I received a grant to go to high school. I have many stories, I should write a book; many hurdles to overcome. The results of my work marketed myself. I would just do the work and move onto the next thing. You should be results-oriented and the career will come. (Click to Tweet)
T: Like one of my favorite quotes from Stephen Covey: “Begin with the end in mind.”
AH: I had a dream, I wanted to become an aerospace engineer and I surpassed my wildest imagination. It’s will, it’s work, it’s many things, but not selfishness, you will not get there. In the end, you work with people, they notice it.
T: If you could talk to your younger self as you were entering a leadership and management role in engineering, what would you say? What advice would you give?
AH: What I would tell to young people is that you need to have dreams, and you need to work how to get there. And believe in yourself. That would be my second message. You have will, you have talents, use them to the best extent and people will discover them. But it takes dedication, it takes a lot of work.
T: Sometimes you have to choose. It can be overwhelming.
AH: I agree, it’s like a falling star that appears and soon it’s gone over the horizon, so you have to see it when it’s there. Do what you believe in. You make a decision with the elements you have in mind at that time. Why bother to look back at that decision? You took the decision with what you knew at the time, so make the decision and move on. You need to look backward to learn because we make mistakes but it’s in order to move forward.
T: Some folks spend a lot of time looking back.
AH: I suppose that when you are younger that is true but when you are older, you know you cannot control that and you do your best. I never said I cannot do something. Professionally, when it comes to work, I have accepted all of the challenges that have been given to me. It’s crazy, I know. I like challenges.
T: If you cannot see how to accomplish something, it can be a challenge.
AH: As you go through your career, you are good at one area but as you extend your comfort zone, you become good at broader areas. So you have to go out of your comfort zone to go beyond. Some folks are not comfortable with that. It attracts me. I am a scientist, I am curious so the unknown attracts me like a magnet. I think that we need to be curious people.
T: What significant changes have you seen in the field of engineering management over your career?
It’s a difficult question. First is the time element. As a junior engineer, I was young, but now I run an organization. So it’s a time thing but also the role that I have. I think what has changed is it’s all become global. Also accessible to a lot of people. A single individual can now make a difference in science. Second thing is it has also become interconnected way more than it was in the past. Speed of change is augmented. I have a way more of a systems approach now than when I was younger. Rather than a components view.
In engineering as well, there is a lot of software, all over the place. Your thinking cannot be focused on hardware; it has to be on software too. Software is delicate, sometimes unstable. My son was a computer network professional. He was struggling. Last year we decided to go into the program together. I can make a network going down, to go up. The important thing is did he succeed? Yes, he did. I passed as well. This tells you about me. It was a motivation to do this.
But still you need to understand the hardware quite well. If you stay at the system level, you will not be able to resolve a problem. I always like to have a dissonant voice – by intent – on my team; like in music, the dissonance.
Now you have provoked me. Two bicycle makers from Dayton Ohio were the first to success in first flight, do you know why? Because everyone before them thought of the plane like a ship, in two dimensions – an air ship. The two bike makers knew they needed the three axes to control the plane, like the bicycle, and they succeeded. Innovation provides resources with a new capacity to generate added value.
T: Who or what has served as your inspiration?
AH: I’ve been fortunate to cross paths with so many beautiful, inspiring people. The Belgian Air Force, scientists, engineers; beautiful, dedicated people.
All of us in leadership positions need to do the best we can to inspire our young people. My career is over. We need to help people see the opportunities that are there so that they can make their path in life. This is not a question of payback or pay forward; it is a moral obligation. Life has given us a lot; we need to give it back; to help someone else find his or her way in life. Sometimes it is about helping answers, pitfalls, sometimes giving a ‘yes’ when a ‘yes’ is expected. Just ‘go for it’. They should outsmart us.
Alice: Given what you know about ASEM, what is the most important next step you would recommend we take to realize our vision to serve, advance, and promote the profession of engineering management around the world?
AH: In general terms, these societies need to provide networking opportunities. Second, they need to provide the necessary components for lifelong learning. I want to learn more about my profession and how can I get it. The third is to identify through the network what the profession is facing and what the consensus is about addressing these challenges.
The next probably is what are the next opportunities for this profession, how can we progress to make the profession more relevant. We need the teaching community to be aware of the needs out there and to change the curriculum to stay tuned to the needs. That’s my best guess.
T: Before we wrap up, I have one question that I really want to know more about. This question is from our esteemed colleague, Donald Kennedy: “In your opinion, how soon will computers be able to take over many of the jobs currently seen as requiring critical thinking and knowledge gained through experience?”
AH: Instinct: Never. In my view, humans will always interact with humans to take a decision. What will change is the evidence base – there will be a lot more data to comfort you in the decision to be made. But if you and I want to work, it will be between us. Will we be increasingly held by machines to make decisions? I think we will. We think it will make it more affordable to make the decision. But if you are out in the field and you need to make a split decision, you make it based on experience. If you have time, you will use the technology but you need to be able to use your brain to make the decision.
Right now we are in automated mode, the machines do not have latitude to make a decision. The next step is man and machine working together. Think of airplane and wingman and you want to complete a mission together. You need to talk, you need to interact. There is no autonomy in there. They will respond and execute but a human will supervise. Even Amazon gives the rules to take a route and deliver to a location, is that autonomy? No, it is automated. The decision is outside. I have a pretty automated car, but I drive the car. It will never decide if I will go to Brussels, but it may keep me in my lanes.
Computers will provide us with better decision aids but it will never take away critical thinking. There is the interaction of humans and there is an ethical dimension in there as well. I am not in favor of that. I still use a slide rule and logarithmic tables. The computer, the raw calculation power we have to assist us in anything we do. But I don’t need all the decimals. [smiles]. Was that the reply you were expecting?
T: It gives me a lot of thought. There isn’t a right or wrong.
AH: Technologically it is probably feasible. Let’s say you are the boss of the company and you want to hire someone. And you are the recruiting company. You come up with the ranking and recommend number 1. I go back to my office and say, can I work with this person? If I feel more comfortable with number 2 then I hire number 2 rather than number 1. Technology / computer will aid me in making the decision but there are other factors in there that are human related.
I learned something late in my career and that is to be myself, whether it is good or bad, because that is who we are.
T: The challenge is if we are good enough.
AH: We are never good enough, so that is not there. It is hard because it is fun and you are testing your limits. You know the feeling; you worked hard on something and you think this is okay. And then you get one question and you think, “Garbage can.” You know that feeling? It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s part of normal things in life.
The place I don’t want to be is in front of arrogant people who are incompetent, that is what I dislike the most, and they do exist. If they have their ears open, they are okay. The only way I have found to address this is bilateral – face-to-face – because you cannot challenge them in front of their peers. Get them out, have a face-to-face talk.
T: So, the message or takeaway for our readers?
AH: Globally what I would like to give is you have one of the most beautiful professions you can find, because there is something for everyone. It is so broad, and there is something you can do. Don’t stand still, get connected with lifelong learning. It is not static. For everyone, if you look at the body of work, there is something out there for everybody.
In closing, Alice and I had a great visit with the General and this was easily the highlight of our ASEM conference experience!
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.
UNIVERSITY OF JOHANNESBURG (UJ)
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.
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 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.
UNIVERSITY OF PRETORIA (UP)
The University of Pretoria offers Engineering Management under the Graduate School of Technology Management.
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 include asset and maintenance management, sustainable development, engineering services management, and systems engineering.
STELLENBOSCH UNIVERSITY (SUN)
Stellenbosch University offers Engineering Management under the Department of Industrial Engineering. The department hosts two post graduate study domains: Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management.
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 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 (NWU)
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.
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.
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.
UNIVERSITY OF CAPETOWN (UCT)
The University of Cape Town offers Engineering management under the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment.
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 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 Telukdarie, PrTech Eng
Post Graduate School of Engineering Management Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment
University of Johannesburg
Tel: +27 11 559 1736
Mobile: 061 450 5948
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