The days of the specialized engineer, toiling away in his cubicle or laboratory and focusing exclusively on solving prevailing technical challenges, are fast dwindling. Modern economic realities require a whole new model and mindset for the modern engineer. In the era of ‘‘right-sized’’ corporations, the engineer must assume more responsibilities and wear more occupational hats than ever before. Of all of them, perhaps the one role he or she is least equipped to fulfill is that of project manager. Irrespective of the individual engineer’s
preparedness for this additional responsibility, there is no escaping that this is the role today’s engineering field has in store for him or her. One of the prevailing causes behind the typical engineer’s relative inability to perform as a de facto project manager is the widely-held belief that, while engineering requires a rigid roster of ‘‘hard’’ skills and formal education, project management is more of a ‘‘soft’’ science that requires no additional structured training. This conception is firmly ensconced both in the corporate environs and in the modern academic institution. The latter point is easily demonstrated by a quick perusal of the typical engineering or engineering technology curricula: A brief review will reveal that the number of courses with titles or subject matters such as budgeting, time management, work planning, negotiation, etc., is extremely limited. Yet such preparatory training is essential if the engineer is to be ultimately responsible for all aspects of the final project delivery, and not simply the technical efficacy of the project. By its nature, engineering has an intrinsic framework imposed by the laws of physics, structural and material limitations, etc. By contrast, project management can be much more nebulous and is often permitted to remain so during the course of many modern corporate and industrial engineering efforts. This ambiguous state of the project management effort often results in a ‘‘sink or swim’’ approach, wherein the engineer attempts to deliver all budgetary, administrative, and personnel requirements associated with a project while simultaneously trying to concentrate on the essential technical details of engineering development. The need for integration of project management training and non-technical ‘‘real world’’ scenarios into undergraduate engineering and engineering technology education becomes still more apparent when one considers the ever more prevalent consultant or contract engineering business model, which lives or dies by the accuracy and accountability of its project management methods. The authors of this paper undertook to introduce certain key project management fundamentals and tools into portions of Purdue University’s Aeronautical Engineering Technology program.
Dubikovsky, Sergey and Kestin, Jeffrey
"Project Management as an Active Component of the Aeronautical Engineering Technology Program,"
Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering:
2, Article 3.