--BY KRISHANA PRASAIN
Generally, it is difficult for engineers to get into top managerial posts. The perception exists that engineers are just technical professionals with little or no managerial skills despite their personal abilities.
But this opinion has been changing, with the introduction of the M.Sc. in Engineering Management (MEM) programme by Purbanchal University, allowing professionals with engineering backgrounds to pursue their aspirations to become top managers. The postgraduate course is equivalent to a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) where students learn managerial skills from an engineering perspective. “The programme is uniquely designed to fill the gap between technical knowledge and managerial skills,” says Sunil Poudel, Head of Department (HoD) at the Himalayan Institute of Science and Technology (HIST) Engineering College. According to him, the design of the MEM course meets international standards and practices.
“Accredited internationally, MEM graduates have it easier when getting government level jobs,” says Parishwar Acharya, Head of Department at Acme Engineering College. The course was first initiated by Purbanchal University (PU) in 2005/2006. Acme Engineering College started teaching the course after becoming affiliated with the university. Besides Acme, HIST-Engineering College, which is also affiliated to PU, also offers the programme in Nepal. PU offers 50 seats yearly. Of this, Acme Engineering College and HIST-Engineering College admit 20 and 30 students respectively in one intake.
“The postgraduate management course is studied through an engineering perspective which enables student to effectively manage the engineering projects,” says Bimal Sharma, Assistant Programme Coordinator at HIST-Engineering College. The combined concept of management and engineering in the MEM programme allows fresh graduates and working professionals to acquire the management skills necessary to advance in today's technical world. Unlike a graduate degree in faculties such as science and engineering, the MEM degree offers the chance to learn from a practical business perspective necessary for technical managers. Compared to a traditional MBA programme, MEM programmes emphasise skills specifically required in technology-based organisations.
According to Sharma, HIST College receives applications from more than 70 candidates annually. “Almost 60 students pass the entrance exams from which we select students for admission based on ranking.” He adds that mostly students from civil engineering backgrounds join the course.
About the Course
The MSC in Engineering Management offers graduates with engineering degrees or degrees in other relevant faculties, a real insight into the business world. The course provides the opportunity for potential managers to develop managerial skills of engineers/architects and produces the required level of human resources for the management of engineering in the future. The two-year course is divided into four semesters where three semesters are focused on theory and in the fourth semester the students are required to submit their thesis with their respective field work.
Subjects covered in the course include Quantitative Method, Research Methodology, Organisational Behaviour, Engineering Economics and Entrepreneurship. Legal and Ethical Issues, Operational Research, Strategy Management, Quality Management, Financial Management and Human Resource Management are taught in the second semester. Similarly, the third semester consists of Technological Marketing, Managerial Accounting, Project Financing and Management, Elective I and Elective II.
The MEM program has a great scope for students from an engineering background, as it lays the perfect platform to bridge the gap between technology and management. The programme enlarges the technological problem solving ability of an engineer. Also the programme incorporates a number of business courses, helping students to develop management skills.
“I think engineering management is a good course for students and workers who are working as engineers and who are looking for higher level posts in the engineering field,” views Sharma.
Students after the completion of this course usually work as division engineers, project managers in government and non-government organisations. The possibility of hiring a person with engineering management degree also goes up.
Acme Engineering College is offering the programme at Rs 320,000 whereas at HIST-Engineering College, the total cost is Rs 360,000. Students can pay their fees semester wise in both institutions.
Meanwhile, PU is providing full scholarships for two students every year including one on merit basis and one on reservation.
Students who have completed their Bachelor in Engineering (BE) are eligible to apply for the programme. Students from any branch of engineering such as civil, electrical, mechanical, computer, agriculture, architecture can join the programme. The students willing to pursue the degree need to appear for an entrance exam conducted by PU.
As most students are employed Acme and HIST both run classes in the evening. “The classes are conducted from 5:30pm to 8:30pm,” informs Sharma. The college also takes internal exams to prepare students for board exams.
Acharya says that students who have jobs should not feel any pressure. “Students need not worry about managing their studies and jobs as the programme can be well managed over the course of the two years.”