There are more than a dozen distinct engineering occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Engineering management requires leadership of an engineering team's scientific expertise so that it can be skillfully applied to the needs of the project or business, while taking into consideration any relevant economic, social, and political issues. Those who pursue a Ph.D. in engineering management typically want to lead a team by managing fieldwork or by teaching in an institution.
Many employer directed assistantship, scholarship, and grant opportunities exist for Ph.D. candidates. One such partnership with the Missouri University of Science and Technology and the Defense Acquisition University (DAU), allows employees from the Department of Defense's Acquisition, Technology and Logistics workforce to pursue a Ph.D. degree in engineering management. The degree is a two- to three-year graduate program, though students may take up to eight years to complete it. Each program is customized to the student and the DAU will arrange for an internship opportunity. The National Science Foundation also provides funding opportunities. The graduate student will do well to research additional graduate funding opportunities that apply to the specific area of study.
Why a Ph.D.?
Experienced engineers who earn a Ph.D. can advance to leadership roles and land desirable teaching positions. Graduates may also choose to conduct research studies and/or teach at the university level. Engineering teams are often responsible for managing workflow in a global workplace. Employers seek managers who are experienced and skilled in handling a wide range of engineering situations in a growing online workplace of remote workers. Workers from multiple countries collaborate with the team and look for guidance and leadership experience from skills obtained in the Ph.D. program to accomplish the project objectives.
As an instructor, the Ph.D. program enables students to participate in the development of new ideas and presentation of these ideas to organizations and scholarly engineering communities. Ph.D. trained teachers present engineering research at conferences, prepare lessons for classroom- or field-based instruction and advise students in research and study. Through their work, research, and ideas, Ph.D.’s engineer and shape the world in which we live.
Inside an Engineering Management Ph.D. Program
The online Ph.D. programs in engineering management have started to offer portions of their programs online, and in some cases entire degrees online. However colleges and universities have been slow to convert classroom study to online study because of the valuable residency requirements. Ph.D. programs rely heavily on collaboration with an advisor to help develop and guide program research. Learners researching online Ph.D. programs in engineering management do well to research and find a program that closely matches their career and academic needs with online and classroom study. In addition to the Ph.D., there is the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program in engineering management. While both degrees complete a doctorate level, the DBA focuses more on business, while the Ph.D. focuses on science.
The online Ph.D. programs in engineering management are frequently offered in webinar format. Under this structure, classes are taught online by experienced instructors in live lecture settings Using high speed Internet access, students view these lectures and interact with instructors and classmates. Collaboration also takes place via email, as students correspond with classmates and interact with instructors during specified online office hours. Course topics are typically presented online through a course management system such as Angel, Mediasite, or Wimba. Topics in the Ph.D. in engineering management include the following.
- Information Technology and Project Management
- Foundations of Systems of Engineering
- Engineering Support and Decision Making Systems
- Engineering Risk Analysis
- Group Study in Systems Engineering
- Research Methods in Science and Technology
During most three- to five-year Ph.D. program, students complete a dissertation on a topic relevant to their career or academic objectives. Example dissertations cover areas such as airport dynamics, human behavior modeling in computer programs, real time terrain modeling, personal virtual communications, and improving project management.
What's Next for Engineering Management Ph.D. Holders?
Ph.D. in engineering management salary varies considerably, but the median salary for the field was $130,620 in 2014, according to the BLS. Job openings for engineering managers are increasing. However, due to outsourcing of research and development and subsequent consolidation of workforces, job growth is projected at 2%, slower than the national average for all occupations.
Instructors may continue research at universities and colleges, or collaborate with businesses for product research and development. Earning a Ph.D. in engineering management allows top engineers to progress to leadership positions and offer new ideas pertaining to university instruction and business applications.