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MS (Engineering Management) vs MBA

Danish Shaukat
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 16, 1999
Posts: 340
Hi all,

I need some career guidance.

I am 30 years old, hold a BS (CS), have 8 years of industrial experience and work in a small software company. Currently my work involves providing technical leadership, designing, coding, project management, business development, client coordination etc. It is a combination of Technical Lead and Project Manager positions.

In the future I would like to get in to managerial/leadership roles- they can be technical or non-technical. If possible I would like to set up my own company.

I certainly do not see myself sitting in front of the computer and coding for 10 hours a day.

I want to improve my qualification. Keeping in mind my career goals, I have decided to go for either MS (Engineering Management) or MBA. Decision is getting a little tricky.

I cannot figure out how the courses (listed at the end) offered in MS (Engineering Management) relate to the software sector. They make more sense for people coming from mechanical/electrical engineering backgrounds.

MBA from a top school seems more relevant.

Do you have any comments on which program I should opt for (MBA or Engineering Management)?

Regards,
Danish

MS Engineering Management Courses

1. Project Management
2. Design, Patents, Contract and Legal Engineering
3. Quality Engineering
4. Engineering Ergonomic and Work Study
5. Production System Design and Analysis
6. Facility Planning and Layout
7. Operation Management
8. Simulation Modeling
9. Production Planning and Control
10. Advances Practices in Engineering Management
11. Environmental and Safety Management
12. Industrial Costing Management
Danish Shaukat
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 16, 1999
Posts: 340
Description of courses is as follows:

MEM 801 PROJECT MANAGEMENT (3-0)
Concept of a project and its definition, Introduction to planning, scheduling and control of projects, Network model and its applications. Probabilistic and Deterministic Approaches. Gantt charts, PERT and CPM. Network simulation, latest software on project management, Determination of resources requirements of a project, Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Request for Proposal (RFP), Resource leveling, Project scheduling under limited resources. Project crashing and alternatives analysis. Case studies and Problem Solutions.


MEM-802 DESIGN, PATENTS, CONTRACT AND LEGAL ENGINEERING (3-0)
Design, its process and optimization, Patent development, its types and authentication, Legal procedures and principles of interest to engineers, The patent legal systems and agencies, contracts, its specifications, and liability, Patent and proprietary rights, special problems in research and development regarding design, Patents and legal aspects, Intellectual property rights, Case studies and Problem Solutions.


MEM 803 QUALITY ENGINEERING (3-0)
Basic definition of inspection, inspector and his / her qualification, Types of inspections, Measurement, instruments and gauges (mechanical, electrical, electronic and hybrid), Areas and phases of inspections, Quality and its definition, selecting quality parameters for inspections including limits, tolerances and fits, Product standards and references (national and international), in-process and off-process inspection, Performance tests (destructive and non-destructive tests), Statistical design of engineering experiment, Statistical Quality Control and its organization, Quality assurance, responsibility and organization, National and International quality assurance systems, WTO and its impact on Quality engineering, Case studies and problem solutions.

MEM 804 ENGINEERING ERGONOMIC AND WORK STUDY (3-0)
Introduction to ergonomic, its importance and considerations in engineering, Ergonomic design of a work place / station, Introduction to work study, Techniques and Procedure of work study and their relation, Method study and its techniques, work measurement and its techniques, The human factor in the application of work study, Working condition and the working environment, The flow and handling of material, Movement of workers and information in the work area, Predetermined Time Standards (PTS), Case studies and Problem Solutions.

MEM 805 PRODUCTION SYSTEM DESIGN AND ANALYSIS (3-0)
Introduction to modern production systems, Product and Process Design for assembly and disassembly, system design, MRP-II, JIT, Optimized Production Technology, System automation, Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM), System Production analysis and latest tools/ techniques, System soft work, Industry projects, Case studies and problem solution.


MEM 806 FACILITY PLANNING AND LAYOUT (3-0)
Location and site selection criteria, Equipment and utilities layout, Latest tools and software for facility layouts, work cell layout and job shop layout, Types of Layout, Types of Production, Group / Cellular Technology, Material Handling Systems, Type of flows, Material Requirement Planning (MRP-II), Inventory Models, Just In Time (JIT) technique and its Pre-requisites, Single-Facility Location Problems, Multi facility Location Problems, Discrete Location and Layout Problems, Continuous Facility Design and Layout, Computerized Layout Planning, Case projects, Case studies and Problem Solutions.


OPTIONAL SUBJECTS (ANY THREE COURSE)


MEM 808 OPERATION MANAGEMENT (3-0)
Introduction to Operations Management, Operation system inputs and outputs, Generic model of Operation System, Operations Strategy for Competitive Advantage, Operations in a global environment, Designing Operations, Plant location and layout. Types of production and material handling. Demand forecasting and its modeling. Material requirement planning and Manufacturing Resources Planning (MRPII), Production planning and scheduling, Project Management, Inventory Management, Just-in-Time System, Work study and its technique. Managing Quality, Productivity and its concept, measurements and improvement techniques, Case studies and problems solutions.

MEM 809 SIMULATION MODELING (3-0)
Introduce and importance of simulation in engineering, Different levels of simulation in engineering applications (components level, system level and event level simulation), Dynamic and static simulation, A systematic analysis tool, Model preparation, Analysis and interpretation of different results, Commercial codes in system simulation, simulation tool and techniques, Case studies and problem solution.

MEM 810 PRODUCTION PLANNING AND CONTROL (3-0)
Production system, its inputs, conversation and output, objectives and evaluation of production planning and control, Aggregate Production Planning, scheduling, shop loading, Low and high volume production, Ordering / sequencing and progress controlling, work flow and its balancing, Forecasting and inventory control, Network analysis, Allocation problems, Material requirement planning, Automation in production system (Fixed, Programmable and flexible automation), Case study and problem solution.


MEM-812 ENVIRONMENTAL AND SAFETY MANAGENMENT (3-0)
Introduction to physical aspects of odor, noise and vibration and its effect on human. Physical sources of noise, pollution and vibration and their control. Control of air, water and solid pollutants. Building lighting, ventilation and space calculation. Safety requirements at work centers and safety standards and equipment. Chemicals, electrical and mechanical sources of industrial accidents, fires, prevention and control. Basic requirements of national and international environmental and safety standard. Economic aspects of environment and safety. Environment and safety management, Case studies and Problem Solutions

MEM 813 INDUSTRIAL COSTING MANAGEMENT (3-0)
Cost and Value concept, Types of costs and its calculations. Money-time relation, Return on investment, Present and future worth of money. Cost centers, costing organization, and responsibilities. Appreciation and depreciation analysis. Effects of taxes and inflation, Machinery replacement analysis, Break-even and Sensitivity Analysis, Economic decision making under risk and uncertainty. Benefit-cost ratio, Criteria for evaluation of public utility project, Comparisons of alternatives investment evaluation, Costs of capital and capital budgeting, Determinants of working capital and its measurement. Choices of preparation of various types of budgets. Cash and receivable management, Case studies and Problem Solutions

MEM 814 TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT (3-0)
Introduction to Technology Management, The Role of Technology in the Creation of Wealth, Critical Factors in Managing Technology, Technology Life Cycles, The Process of Technological Innovation, Competitiveness, Business strategy and Technology Strategy, Technology Planning, The Acquisition and Exploitation of Technology, Transfer of Technology, The Design of Organization for Technology Management, The Manufacturing and Service Industries, Case studies and problem solutions.
Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
I cannot figure out how the courses (listed at the end) offered in MS (Engineering Management) relate to the software sector. They make more sense for people coming from mechanical/electrical engineering backgrounds.


Not sure why you can't figure this out (Probably cause you have a BS in Computer Science and not in Information Systems). Also not sure why you think these courses are for electrical engineering and not software engineering. I suggest that you speak with a counselor of the school and ask him/her to explain the program to you. It looks like a very good curriculum for software engineering.

Good luck!
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4650
    
    5

Well, there is engineering, and then there is software engineering. From the course descriptions, it looks like this Masters program is for real engineers, not software engineers. Most software engineers have no idea what a job shop is, or how laying out a shop will help the product.

I suggest you look at other Masters programs, and as @James suggests, talk to a a counselor. Be forewarned, you need to find the right school/college to find a a counselor to talk to, if they are from the college that turns out aerospace, mechanical, structural, and electrical engineers, they may not speak the language you are looking for.

At the University that I attended, Computer Science, Information Systems, Software Engineering, etc were in the College of Science, not the College of Engineering.
Danish Shaukat
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 16, 1999
Posts: 340
Hi James and Pat,

Thanks for replying.

As far as MS (Engineering Management) is concerned only one university is offering this program in my city. This leaves no room for comparing programs and selecting the right one.

I do not have access to a counselor yet. However I do know that all the faculty members of this program are from mechanical/manufacturing engineering backgrounds.

Pat:
I know what you are saying. My brother is a mechanical engineer so I do know how their work environment differs from ours. Plants, layouts, job shops, tools, safety and health hazards (yes you get them when you have molten iron, glass, lead flowing over your head, you work near furnaces, there is radiation, extreme noise that makes you put on ear plugs etc ) are just more relevant and are the normal talk of mechanical, nuclear and electrical engineers.

James:
I do agree that some courses like project management, technology management, design contracts, legal engineering, ergonomics etc do make lot of sense in our sector as well.

Question:
I need to decide between typical MBA program vs the MS (Engineering Management) program with the details I have mentioned.

Is there any thing against a MBA?

Which will be more appropriate if I want to move in to managerial/leadership roles?

Regards,
Danish
Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
Software engineering is a "real" engineering field. However, not everyone that can program Java JSP pages or EJB is a software engineer. Moreover, there are many aspects of software engineering that are applicable to the content of these courses.

Also, keep in mind that there are many other types of software besides "internet web sites" or "business software." Software that controls missile systems, software that executes in aircraft engines, software of machines used to operate on human brains are a few examples. These software diciplines require extensive training and knowledge, similiar to what seems to be addressed by the courses mentioned.

If you goals are simply to learn to create websites or database applications, then there is no need for a Master degree. However, if you ever want to be up in the senior management realm and/or have the background and knowledge to build your own business, then you will benefit greatly from a Master degree.

Which will be more appropriate if I want to move in to managerial/leadership roles?


Both of them can work for you. Keep in mind that software architects are managers and are leaders as well, if they have the right personality and are in the right place.

There are MBA programs that have concentrations in Information Systems and/or Software Engineering.
Danish Shaukat
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 16, 1999
Posts: 340
Hi James,

Thanks for the valuable guidance. Your strong arguments in favor of Engineering Management definitely set me on the right track.

Due to lack of exposure in big companies I am not looking at things from where you are looking at them.

Thanks a lot.

Regards,
Danish

Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
You are welcome. Good luck and remember... if you start, never give up until you complete the program and get your degree
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4650
    
    5

We haven't talked much about your MBA question. The Business Schools claim that any good manager, properly taught, can manage anything. They have to say that, its part of their charter. But I don't agree. I've seen too many MBA holding folks think they can manage software projects, and most of them fail. Not only does the project come in late, over budget, and under featured, but usually the software folks end up hating the MBA holding manager. I think this is due to communications failures. Making widgets is not the same as making software that works.

So one argument could be that a good software engineer would make a great MBA, as they would have the generic MBA skills and have knowledge of how software works and how software engineers communicate, what the big issues are.

The other argument is that getting an MBA for a good software developer is a waste of a good software developer.

On the topic of which schools are available in your town: I understand the limitations. But I personally think that finding a good match of what the school offers and what you want is so important, and that getting a Masters is only a two year deal, that you really should consider temporarily moving if you have to.
Danish Shaukat
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 16, 1999
Posts: 340
Hello Pat,

I was doing some research on MS (Engineering Management) and found this. Sounds convincing and also answers your question.
http://emp.colorado.edu/prospective/mbacompare.htm


The Engineering Management Program (EMP) is better than a technical MBA for most engineers. Unlike, an MBA program, EMP prepares you for management and leadership in high-tech situations with a focused curriculum in areas such as new product development, project management and managing applied research. EMP does not cover areas such as retail, real estate, banking, recreation, tourism and the restaurant industry.



I think it would be wrong for me to expect targeted knowledge towards the software sector in the MS (Engineering Management) program. It should be generic and broadly target all engineering disciplines.

Moving out of city, getting a 2 year career break, spending money, making no money… I have to be realistic.

Danish
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4650
    
    5

Danish Shaukat wrote:getting a 2 year career break

Er, that is the point of getting an advanced degree. If you want to stay in your career track, you are better off spending two years working hard at it. The point of getting an advanced degree is because you want to change your career.

Even if you find a school locally, and can keep your day job, getting a Masters takes a lot of time and money. Doing it part time can take 4 or 5 years. At the end of the years, you expect to be doing something different, or you should have stayed at work.
Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
Danish, a Master degree in either dicipline will give you the background for creating and running your own business, and/or enable you to become senior management in large corporation.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4650
    
    5

James Clarks wrote:for creating and running your own business, and/or enable you to become senior management in large corporation.


If you are not interested in either of these, then think carefully about what you do want.

I was a senior manager in a large corporation, a multi-national software/systems consulting house with 6000 employees. I made lots of money. I discovered that I really didn't like the job and didn't need the money. So I went to what has become a series of startups. I make a fraction of what I used to make, and sometimes I'm out of work because one startup fails and it takes awhile for the next to get going. Even when they start, startups often pay terrible wages at first.

I love it, but I have lots of friends who loved being senior management at Mega Consulting Company.
Danish Shaukat
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 16, 1999
Posts: 340
Pat Farrell wrote:
James Clarks wrote:for creating and running your own business, and/or enable you to become senior management in large corporation.


If you are not interested in either of these, then think carefully about what you do want.



Pat:
This is exactly what I am interested in. After around 7 years of technical experience I want to get in to managerial/leadership roles.

James: Thanks again.

I know both programs would serve the purpose. But I have to choose one of them. I just need to figure out which would be a "better" choice.



Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
A good book to read is The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization

You do not have to get a Master degree to be a leader, and you also don't need a "special" position.

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0785260927
ISBN-13: 978-0785260929

http://www.amazon.com/360-Degree-Leader-Developing-Organization/dp/0785260927/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262732283&sr=1-1
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Pat Farrell wrote:The Business Schools claim that any good manager, properly taught, can manage anything. They have to say that, its part of their charter. But I don't agree. I've seen too many MBA holding folks think they can manage software projects, and most of them fail.


The business schools are right. The catch is that "MBA" does always mean "properly taught. " :-)


Danish, start by asking yourself what you want to do. It sounds like you're not yet sure. If you're wandering the city not certain where you want to go, getting on a bike will speed you up, but you still don't know in which direction to move.

I'd start by spending more time thinking about your future. Talk to people in the jobs you would want 10-20 years out and ask them what skills they need and what they think would help you get there. be sure you honestly assess your own skills and then ask people in the two programs (administrators and students/alumni) what skills they got from the program.

As others noted most of the engineering masters classes are relevant. But still, it's sounds clearly oriented towards a different type of engineering. Sure, I could take civil management classes and the general ideas might apply to nuclear management but it seems more efficient to find a nuclear management program directly.

As for an MBA the results vary. The material you can all learn from books--although some people learn better from classes than from books (and note that in some programs classes are lectures, some are case studies with peer learning--make sure if one works for you and the other doesn't you're in the program right for you). Of course much of the value of an MBA is the certification you get plus the networking.

If you want to start your own business an MBA will only give you confidence, access to a larger network, and maybe some improvement in credibility when seeking funding. I've yet to see an MBA program teach someone how to actually start and run a business. Everyone I know learned that by doing. The degree will definitely help get interviews at big corporations.

--Mark
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4650
    
    5

Mark Herschberg wrote: Of course much of the value of an MBA is the certification you get plus the networking.


I believe that for an MBA the networking is far more valuable than the certification. My bias is that a generic MBA from your local school is nor worth much, I think on-the-job training is more valuable, especially when you add in the tuition, books, fees, and lost income.

I do think that a few MBA schools are well worth the time and money, if, and its a big if, you want do do what the graduates of those MBA programs do. But I think its only a handful of schools. MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, perhaps London School of Economics, and a few of the top European schools. These attract and are for folks who expect to run an international company, such as Sony, GE, Tata, etc. There are not many schools, and there are not many multi-national companies that draw from them. They attract the best and the brightest and work them nearly to death. But if you can make it, the networking is priceless.

Danish Shaukat
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 16, 1999
Posts: 340
Mark: Thanks a lot for posting.

James and Pat: Thanks for being so patient with me.

No big company or a multinational will hire me for a managerial position unless I have a management related degree. Most companies here are service based companies and there is no room for growth if I stick to the technical path.

Pat Farrell wrote:
I do think that a few MBA schools are well worth the time and money, if, and its a big if, you want do do what the graduates of those MBA programs do. But I think its only a handful of schools. MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, perhaps London School of Economics, and a few of the top European schools. These attract and are for folks who expect to run an international company, such as Sony, GE, Tata, etc. There are not many schools, and there are not many multi-national companies that draw from them. They attract the best and the brightest and work them nearly to death. But if you can make it, the networking is priceless.


This is one of the reasons why my tilt is towards the Engineering Management program. It will cost less and will serve the purpose as well. MBA has to be from a top school and they are extremely expensive.

Mark Herschberg wrote:
As others noted most of the engineering masters classes are relevant. But still, it's sounds clearly oriented towards a different type of engineering. Sure, I could take civil management classes and the general ideas might apply to nuclear management but it seems more efficient to find a nuclear management program directly.


Agreed that the Engineering Management program seems more focused towards a different type of engineering. However, I think atleast half of the courses are directly relevant to software engineers. The rest of them will be generally applicable as well.

You can easily pick up a bunch of courses in MBA that will not have much relevance to the software sector. So it is the same with Engineering Management.

Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Danish Shaukat wrote:
No big company or a multinational will hire me for a managerial position unless I have a management related degree. Most companies here are service based companies and there is no room for growth if I stick to the technical path.


With that attitude you are absolutely right. There are plenty of big companies, service and otherwise, that hire former engineers sans business degrees as managers--but only ones who believe they can get hired.

Danish Shaukat wrote:
You can easily pick up a bunch of courses in MBA that will not have much relevance to the software sector. So it is the same with Engineering Management.


Really? Name one? Taxation and accounting? All software companies pay taxes. Organizational Behavior? Software companies hire people. MIS? Plenty use or work on MIS systems. Marketing? You're right, what software company would bother with marketing? :-p Etc.

Sure, some class on funding for NGO's may be more off topic than a class on building clean rooms, but for the most part if you want to be a general manager, even a technical leader you should understand all those "irrelevant" topics.

--Mark
Danish Shaukat
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 16, 1999
Posts: 340
Mark Herschberg wrote:

With that attitude you are absolutely right. There are plenty of big companies, service and otherwise, that hire former engineers sans business degrees as managers--but only ones who believe they can get hired.



Mark: You are right. I was wrong. To prove, I have myself been hired as a Business Development Manager and a Product Manager. I do not have a MBA or MEM. I hold a 4 year BS (CS).

My choice of words was poor and did not express what I wanted to convey.


Mark Herschberg wrote:
Danish Shaukat wrote:
You can easily pick up a bunch of courses in MBA that will not have much relevance to the software sector. So it is the same with Engineering Management.


Really? Name one? Taxation and accounting? All software companies pay taxes. Organizational Behavior? Software companies hire people. MIS? Plenty use or work on MIS systems. Marketing? You're right, what software company would bother with marketing? :-p Etc.

Sure, some class on funding for NGO's may be more off topic than a class on building clean rooms, but for the most part if you want to be a general manager, even a technical leader you should understand all those "irrelevant" topics.



Generally speaking you are right about MBA as well. However there are specific MBA programs offered in some countries (like Middle East) with some courses that do not have anything to do with software business. But these are exceptions. Personally, I do not think too highly of such programs.


Danish Shaukat
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 16, 1999
Posts: 340
Hi everyone,

I talked to two people who hold MEM (software engineering oriented) and would like to share their thoughts.

My ex-employer holds a MS (CS) and a MEM, both from the US. He is working in the US for the last 20 years. His vote was for MBA. His point was that most people do not know what is a MEM. Everybody knows about MBA and it sells well.

A friend of mine works as a Program Manager at Microsoft and holds a MS (CS) and a MEM. He also voted for MBA, infact is also going for MBA himself.

The conclusion that I draw is that while a MEM (software oriented) will be relevant but a MBA would be a much better choice. I will be going for MBA.

Regards,
Danish
Neelmani Pandey
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 03, 2010
Posts: 1
Hi Danish,

Its really a nice debate you raised.I just wanna know did you ask you ex-Emp or your friend for the specialization in MBA to go.

or what you have decided ? I too is in IT but not not in development but in Infratructural management domain.


Regards

Neelmani
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
 
subject: MS (Engineering Management) vs MBA