Management-minded Engineers Find a New Path at UMass Lowell
It used to be, the working world was pretty straightforward. If you were good at something and worked hard, that was usually enough to move up the ranks. Career advancement didn’t require development of a whole new set of “crossover skills” that would have you juggling two or three jobs at once.
But things have changed. Let’s say you have an engineering degree. You work for an IT company debugging software and you’re hoping for a promotion — but you have no background in management. Or maybe your degree is in nursing, and you find yourself managing a team of engineers in a biotech firm. Where do you turn for the skills to succeed?
Elvin Moquete faced just this sort of challenge. Moquete, who has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, was hired in 2012 as an engineering assistant by an organic food company in northeastern Massachusetts. Following several promotions, he found himself at an impasse.
“I came to realize that I not only needed to understand the machinery and manufacturing process, but also the people, the teams, the business and financial aspects, as well as the economic impact of each project.”
‘An Important Key to the Future’
Elvin followed his instincts and today is a graduate student in the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s new master’s degree program in engineering management. The program is designed to increase his engineering skills while adding management training he’ll need to take the next step forward.
“It’s a close match to my career path,” he says, “perhaps the only one at the moment with an immediate application to my fieldwork — an important key to the future.”
It takes a unique blend of skills and experience to be successful as a manager in an engineering field, says engineering Professor Sammy Shina, coordinator of the program.
“You need grounding in people skills, technical skills, often financial skills, as well as your skills as an engineer,” Shina says.
The engineering management program at UMass Lowell, he says, combines these elements. “The faculty is a collaboration of our very best brains, from different colleges and departments — engineering as well as business. Many of them have worked in industry. They are connected to the local economy and attuned to what’s needed out there.”
The program is tailored to address a range of needs. Applicants may choose from three concentrations: Design and Manufacturing, for those, for instance, looking for a management job with a firm that designs cell phones or installs hardware; Infrastructure Management, which might apply to a civil engineering or architectural firm; and Operations and Supply, which would involve managing operational issues such as subcontracting or pollution control.
A distinctive feature of the program is the option for a capstone project, which allows working students to receive credit for pursuing a project at their place of employment — improving efficiency, say, or reducing waste — under the guidance of a faculty adviser.
The program is 31 credits and is open to full- and part-time students. Some courses are offered on campus or online. Engineering management is not limited to students who already have engineering or business degrees, although applicants with credentials in other fields may be required to complete prerequisites.
“This degree will provide me with the tools I need to confront the challenges I know I’ll face along the road to becoming a successful manager,” says Moquete.
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Office of Graduate Admissions
Cumnock Hall, Suite 110
One University Avenue
Lowell, MA 01854-3931