OU MEM Webinar – Being a Business Savvy Engineer

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Hi everybody welcome to our Ohio University’s Online Master of Engineering Management webinar I’m going to give everyone just another moment to get logged in.

Hello again everyone and welcome to our webinar, my name is Heather Stanford, I’m a Senior Enrollment Advisor here at Ohio University and with me today I have our Master of Engineering Management Program Director Dr. Dean Bruckner who is going to tell us more about becoming a business-savvy engineer but before we get started I want to tell you what you should be seeing on your screen.

So on the upper left-hand side, you should see the Ohio University calendar link which allows you to schedule also a phone advising appointment with a member of our enrollment team. If you’re already working with an advisor, I would definitely recommend reaching out to him or her directly with any program or admissions questions. Right below that you’ll see our social media links. You can use that to share this webinar with colleagues and friends who may also be interested in learning more about our program. And on the upper right-hand corner, you should be able to maximize the slides and also on the right-hand side you’ll see our Q&A box.

We will have a Q&A session at the end, so feel free to type in any questions for Dr. Bruckner along the way. All right, so here is the agenda of today’s live webinar. We will first do introductions. Dr. Bruckner is going to give us a program snapshot, tell us more about the curriculum, go into our topic today, which is Being a Business Savvy Engineer, and then, of course at the end, we’ll have that Q&A session. So I am now going to pass it over to Dr. Bruckner to introduce himself and tell you a little bit more about our program.

Hi everyone, this is Dean Bruckner, I’m glad you’re attending today and this slide is just so you’ll know a little bit about my background. Most of my education and experience was in the US military in the U.S. Coast Guard but after I retired, I came to Ohio University completed my PhD, and have been doing research, and research administration, and then teaching since then. So my area of expertise is all of my degrees are in electrical engineering and so I came in through the back door so to speak into engineering management. So I have a particular perspective on how to make that material more available to all of you.

All right, so our MEM program, we have a master of engineering management program and so when this first was formed almost ten years ago what we had been teaching, distance learning engineering management, for previous ten years before that, but we put this together and one of our mottos at the time was a by engineers for engineers and so we have a perspective of engineering management, our early faculty was was heavy on the manufacturing, but we have some links into other, you know our faculty, we have about nine full-time faculty, and about that many part-time faculty, and we have prior military, we have some in the healthcare industry doing engineering management functions, and we have some academic admissions as well. And so our program offers a great combination of fairly low tuition, we have 34 credits in ten courses, they’re all exclusively online there’s no requirement to show up a few people each semester do come for the graduation and they walk in the ceremony and you’re able to do that and so we offer and sometimes we have students come by just to say hi, but there’s no requirement for that.

So we have students on several continents, most of our students are in the continental U.S., but we have a few outside and we make that work. One of our students that graduated some time ago, was assigned to a U.S. nuclear submarine and he was gone for two and a half months at a time and we made the program work for him. And so, I think, if we can do that as long as, perhaps you’re not on a space shot or something, we can make that work for you. So I’ll mention more about the online graduate certificates at the end here. We call them stackable. We currently have three and we’re hoping to have another one approved early this fall. And so you can enter into the program or you can enter into a certificate program and work your way as far as you want to go. All right, so some of you may have been wondering well what you provide here’s a decent a snapshot of any of the topics and so we require eight required courses and then currently students select from two courses from six electives. And so we start out typically with the Foundations of Engine Management, followed by Statistics, we use statistics and several applications, some in quality systems, certainly in our required Six Sigma course and also for those who are interested in the Data and Analytics portion of our curriculum, statistics is a foundation for that as well. And so you can see other courses apply too. Accounting Finance Information Systems Engineering Project Management. And so forth, so we do provide a solid background in these areas. And so we have, I think our faculty is one of the best around in this in this discipline. And so, we on our website, we do have faculty profiles, so later on, if you’re interested you can peruse those.

By the way, we do have transfers in. You can transfer up to courses, up to two courses in, if they’re graduate credit. And if you haven’t used them for a degree already and if they meet certain other requirements, such as, great. Okay so let’s get into the topic soon and I will, I’ll provide that now.

And so let’s see, one of the things that I learned when I went into the Coast Guard was that I didn’t really understand the business case for engineering decisions. I was well trained to do engineering in my field was Electrical Engineering digital signal processing, and so forth, I went to the Naval Postgraduate School for a master’s in electrical engineering, and I worked as an engineer, and then quickly graduated so to speak into a role of engineering management. And so I quickly found that I was not prepared to make decisions in that environment. I had learned all kinds of math and algorithms, but I really didn’t know much about what it took engineering management. Particularly, I was not aware of the business side. Now, you can say if you’re in the government, business doesn’t matter, but that’s not really true. We constantly made decisions based on what would be effective and efficient from the resource standpoint. And I learned from a few mentors, what this really meant. And so what I’d like to do here, I’ve got, I’ve got a few slides that I put together and even if you don’t get anything out of this, I think this is a standalone script, that you could follow in increasing your own business, awareness and particularly your effectiveness in business. So this is kind of my perspective, learned over a couple of decades and I’m glad to share it with you. All right, so Business Savvy Engineer, I think there are three components and I’m going to share those with you here. First, the first component, is to understand the concepts, and tools of business management. May have heard about different things, maybe you have some involvement, and so forth in that, but I found that that a lot of these concepts were hiding in plain sight and I didn’t really realize that they were operating until I found out what they were. And so, to help us kind of have a content map. I’m using a traffic light and I’m using a traffic light sequence that I saw in Europe, where the yellow light comes before the red and before the green.

So we’ll start with the red light. And I’ve titled this the first component is to understand the concepts and tools and so so the first thing in this I recommend is that you stop and assess your own business document. How aware are you of business and so here’s some typical questions that that you could ask yourself. Can you identify the principal functions of management in general? How does your CEO or the head of your organization define effectiveness and why? What’s your bottom line contribution to your company? I mean if somebody said how much are you bringing in, you bringing into our company every year? And how much does it cost us to have you? Most engineers have no idea and that’s something that that you can assess. And there’s lots more questions like that. The second one, second step in this component, I’d say look at the business body of knowledge around you.

On my desk I have the project management body of knowledge. The engineering, a guide to the engineering management body of knowledge, and there’s also a systems engineering body of knowledge, with its guidebook. There is also an engineering management body, I mean excuse me, there’s a management body of knowledge, and typically most people access this either through undergraduate business courses, maybe a business minor, an MBA, but and, by body knowledge I don’t mean a book per se. I mean a collection of concepts tools techniques best practices that people use. And so I would say open your eyes to that around you and ask, can I read a financial statement? Have I ever read one from my own company? Could I produce one if asked? What financial tools are used? What kinds of measures of effectiveness or metrics are best? Of course, that’s a loaded word because it depends it depends on on what you want. And there’s always both intentional and unintentional effects of selecting metrics. The next step is to listen to people who are succeeding. Ask who consistently meets their goals and objectives? Who does has the ear and confidence of upper management? Who can articulate the steps to consistent success. I think you can probably think of people in your own organization like this. Certainly I did as I was coming up to the Coast Guard. And I tried to mine them for information and try to copy their methods of effectiveness and some of what I’m presenting to you here was was given to me by mentors like this. So this is a period of reflection, that’s what kind of goes with the with the red light here. So the next step or the next component would be to translate between the technical and resource domain. Typically someone with an engineer background is, falls short, in this regard and so the the managers, upper managers, are not going to do this. The only hope that this is done is for people with an engineering background, who also have developed a sensitivity and the knowledge of how to speak resource. And so, how can a person do this? Well first, is to identify what is meant by resources. And so here the five domains of the resource types, that I have used. First there are time, money, and people. This is in project management. This is kind of similar to the triangle of cost schedule and requirements, but with resources you have schedule time. You have money, and you have people, in addition to that. In many organizations, a manager will need to deal with facilities, building space, workshops, special facilities, and that sort of thing. And also information.

Databases, ways of getting information, partners who handle data, and so forth. And so the question is how much do I have under my purview or how much can I affect? The next step in this, would be to quantify the current and future value of each resource. And this kind of current and future value kind of has the looking ahead to maybe pre and post-project or pre and post improvement. And so when you’re planning your own management not just to think okay, we have to get this piece of software out the door. But the whole resource picture, how, what is the value of the current tools we have. How much are we spending per year to maintain the technical ability to manage this software piece? How much will this new effort that we’re going to do. whether it’s an improvement or a new capability, how much does it currently cost? And how much will it cost and how much will it benefit? And is this justifiable? And so people who are planning should be looking at this. And so a third step in this, would be to formalize your own resource management. Regardless of the efforts that you’re on, add a dimension in a business case. What I mean by that is, not necessarily a big formal whopping business case that you can plunk down on someone’s desk, but rather to to learn the habit of creating testing, and adjusting measures of effectiveness. And predicting resource changes. For example you have a small project; you can predict changes in efficiency, effectiveness cost, and as you do more of it you’ll get better at it. And your confidence will grow and then placing them into a prototype business case. By that what I mean is basically if you can mentally use the image of a benefit-cost analysis. Let’s say you’re doing an improvement project and if you aren’t required to use a business case create your own. And learn what’s effective and and learn by doing. So translating between the technical and resource domains, if you can’t do it.

Your effectiveness beyond your own engineering world will be fairly limited. And the third area is to use all of the foregoing to shape the efforts of your organization. First thing, if someone told me and I’ve absorbed ever since then. Is that I need to realize the influence that I have. And so what I call the golden key of engineering influence is this it’s thinking and communicating in terms of resources saved or gained. When I was a junior to mid-level engineer, I thought that people would be swayed by my technical elegance. And they were, if they were peers, but in upper levels, they they really didn’t care. It was how much is this going to cost, and how much is this going to benefit? And so forth. And so you can learn to talk like a VP, a vice president, but it will invariably come down to how you can communicate in resources saved for gain. So the next step, would be to shop your prototype business case and maybe, maybe it’s just mental, or maybe you haven’t really written it down formally, but you can begin to discuss it. So you know, you could say, if I could save five people and make them available for work elsewhere in the company, how much would that be valued? Find out what’s considered a significant gain. And you can adjust your own efforts to find out what is persuasive. And when I was in the Coast Guard my very last year, I was pulled on to a team to consider how to combine the Coast Guard’s logistics chains into a single, a single method. The Coast Guard was supporting its airplanes, its ships, its electronics, at shore stations, its small boats, all in separate logistics chains. And it was very costly and several years before the Aviation Group had conducted a benefit-cost analysis and discovered that there fragmented logistics chains would be better centralized, a central depot, with local repair shops. And so they implemented this. They saved a bunch of money, they changed the culture from hoarding parts locally, to sharing and their business was, their business changes, were so effective that it caught the attention of senior leaders. And so I was part of a five-person full-time team with say 20 part-timers. And we started reviewing the literature. And we found out that there were some 12 studies that had been done, in the very thing that we were attacking again. And then we realized that the only one that had ever been implemented, was the one that had a sound business case. And so we decided that our effort would be the second one, with a sound business case and at the end of that one-year effort, we estimated that the Coast Guard could save 77 million dollars a year by combining the logistics team. And it was backed up by a sound business case. And when that hits the table at the upper levels of the Coast Guard, it was approved. No one could leave 77 million dollars a year on the table unimplemented. And so that that alone caused that to be implemented. And they’re still implementing it more than a decade later. And so as you, you can effect changes at all levels and even if you have a Six Sigma project. Most Six Sigma projects have a an expected resource gain and then afterwards you can close the loop and verify if your estimate was good and the better you can do, you can do by doing, then the more confidence you build, and the more confidence people have in you as well. So are you taking a risk when you put it out there and you’re estimating business gins? Of course you are, but you’ll learn as you do it, how to do manage risks. And I’ll tell you, if you put money on the table, people will not be able to ignore it and that is the golden key of engineering influence in action. Ok so, how do you go about doing this? Well one of the things that I learned, was how much I didn’t know, and so I started going at about the 3/4 point in my Coast Guard career, I started going to seminars and short courses, I had already had my Coast Guard sponsored master’s, so in our you know, I didn’t think of going into another program and you really have online programs like this back then. So I learned the hard way, it was like being thrown into the deep end of the pool with a a marginal knowledge of swimming. So I had to learn to swim engineering management, as I went along, and so as I come to this program and I’ve been involved in the program for six years, and I’ve directed the program for three, I’ve, what I tell students and prospective students, is I have helped shape, and I offer the program, that I wish I had had when I was a mid-level engineer in a large organization. And so, how can you identify a curriculum that delivers value? Well one of the things you can do is find out, not only what the courses are, what course outcomes are they sometimes are called goals, or objectives and you can look at this, and I’ve selected one course, that’s our introductory course, just to show you how I would evaluate a program. So I’m going to show you those five-course outcomes and comment on those. So the first one, in our foundations of engineering management course, our first course outcome is for, to enable the student to define the four basic functions of management, which are planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. And that’s from the guide, to the product, to the engineering management body of knowledge. And so, we’ve drawn some of these course documents, as well as textbooks, and the instructors own experiences, so where does business savvy come into this? Well planning, organizing, leading, and controlling, at least the planning, and controlling must be coupled with business savvy.

Organizing leading certainly will have an effect on that, and so that business savvy is integrated into this part of the course. Another one is identifying approaches to these functions that are most likely to succeed in technical organizations. Sometimes we’re asked what’s the difference between an MBA and a MEM, well we have a webinar that we’ve done on that, I believe it’s available for playback, but the short answer is I would say that there’s an area of overlap about 40%, and there are some areas that we MEM really doesn’t typically focus on such as marketing, but there are areas such as low defect manufacturing, like Six Sigma, and so forth that are not shared by the MBA. But this is an MEM, an MEM gives you most of the tools of an MBA, but allows you and your organization to serve as the bridge between upper management and engineering activities. So here, the the next three, and again with these, the business savvy skill, I don’t know, if you call that savviness, or what, but they’re woven into this course of outcomes. And so actually, you can also on our website there are indicators, that are their descriptions of the three graduate certificates that we have. And our graduate certificates are an engineering management, engineering leadership, and certified Lean Six Sigma. So this course, the foundations of engineering management, goes in the engineering management certificate, so that’s a three-course certificate it’s 11 credit hours, a person can enroll either in the program and they take the courses as they go. The courses each have two required courses and one elective and so the the two courses that are paired with this one are project management and engineering law.

Engineering law is the elective or what I like to say, project management is how engineers get things done and engineering law is how project or how engineering managers keep from getting things done to them. So resource picture is constant in all of those and so our enrollment advisors can give you more details about the certificates as well. You can earn within the ten-course envelope of any program. Every student can earn up to two certificates, unless you really work hard at selecting electives that don’t line up with an extra course, eleventh course, you can obtain a third certificate. And then if our other one is approved with 12 courses, you could obtain a fourth certificate, and those go on your on your transcript, as well as your degree, when you complete them. So that’s the slides that I have, I hope this has been beneficial to you and I’ll press it back over to Heather. Thank you. Thank you so much Dean. As you all know, I’m not even an engineer, and I feel like I can apply a lot of that to my own life, so definitely great concepts. So what I wanted to do now is jump into our Q&A session, answer any questions you all may have for us so Dean could you tell us a little bit more about this program and how it kind of prepares you for a PhD? Or does it prepare you for a PhD and are there any issues with meeting admissions requirements? Ok occasionally we get this question this master’s program is optimized for practice in the industry rather than for obtaining a PhD and the reason why I say this, is that, for example, there are some programs that offer Master of Science in Engineering Management and in order to offer a Master of Science there’s more math and science necessarily, but we have a project as the summative experience, of the culminating or capstone experience, instead of a thesis. Now if your PhD bound, that basically means you’re either going to teach, or you’re going to perform research, or fill a narrow niche as maybe a chief scientist in a company, maybe in the R&D department, and so what you’ll want to do is demonstrate that you can do research. You can generate new knowledge under the guidance of an experienced professor. And so, the way you mine that new knowledge, and put it in the bucket, so to speak, and define it is to publish a thesis. Now a thesis doesn’t necessarily have to have new knowledge, but it does demonstrate you’re able to survey the literature, you’re able to find out where the edge of the current literature is, and either publish near it, or on the up side of it, so you’re offering new, something new to the field and that is a requirement for a PhD. So would this, could this go into a PhD, it could, but if you’re really wanting to focus on research probably a Master of Science in your own discipline would be what I recommend. The only exception to this is, is if your PhD will be actually in the field of engineering management, for example what’s the best delivery systems to impart a engineering management knowledge, and then you go out, you measure it, you find out what techniques, or what tools, or what topics are going to be used, and so you become kind of an engineering management guru, or engineering management education guru, or something like that. And you go out, and you do research, and you publish those results in a journal, and then certainly this would be a good stepping stone to a PhD like that. I hope that answers the question. Awesome, thank you very much Dean. Does anybody else have any additional questions before we wrap up the session for today? Alrighty, so it looks like we are ready to wrap up, but before I do that. I do want you to take note of the contact information on this slide. This is how you reach a member of our enrollment team, if you have any specific questions about what the admissions criteria are, we evaluate individuals, you know on an individual basis, we’re happy to look at transcripts and resume to determine if you do meet the requirements. Our enrollment team is really great, so feel free to reach out to us by scheduling a phone appointment, using that calendar link on the left hand side, you can call us at that number, email us directly, as well. We’re happy to assist you with the process and if there’s anything else we can do to help you.

Know we look forward to speaking with you. Anything else from you Dean? Nope, thank you very much. All right thank you everybody for joining us today. Have a great afternoon. All right, bye, bye.