Engineering Managers: What They Do and What They Know

Female Carpenter

An engineering manager is an engineer whose job requires him or her to apply the principles of engineering to the practices and practicalities of business. Ideally suited for a person who is skilled and knowledgeable in the technical, mechanical and technological aspects of engineering but who possesses the planning abilities and people management skills of a leader, an engineering manager is a problem solver for many levels of people.

It goes without saying thatthese types of managers are a rare breed ofperson with a very specific and far-reaching skill set. From supervising other engineers and managing complex projects to working with clients and offering consulting services, the engineering manager’s job is a changing and complex one.
Here is a closer look at some of the many jobs and tasks they perform, as well as what they need to know to perform well.

Operations Research

This area of an engineering manager’s job deals with quantitative models that explore and predict any of a number of complex operations that affect workflow, productivity, supply chains, transportation and the like. These models assist in decision-making and can be used in any sector, field or industry. Operations research is interested in uncovering and discovering the processes that might enable work to be done more efficiently.

Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management is a process that oversees and implements the planning and management of work flow, goods, services and communication that take a product or service from its origin to its point of consumption. From the transport and storage of raw materials to inventory in process and the finished product, supply chain management keeps track of the many necessary connections between work, process, people, procedures and materials. These days, supply chain management requires the integration of logistics, procurement, operations management and IT.

Technology Management

Technology increasingly affects more and more sectors of contemporary work and life, and engineering management is no exception. From managing innovation and updates to keeping pace with technological change that affects operations and people, managing technology is taking up more and more energy and time within all types of projects.

The Development of Scientific, Market-Driven and Technical Goals

Engineering managers must see the bigger picture across a number of different spheres so that targets are met in what is usually a complex project. Through research, testing and modeling, goals are established that satisfy scientific, technical and market metrics. The engineering manager either establishes or helps establish these goals and follows through on implementing all the measures required in order to make sure that those goals are met.

Supervise Employees

Employee supervision is the part of the job where an engineering manager must exercise good interpersonal diplomacy and directness in addition to the practical application of knowledge and skill. Most of the time an engineering manager is overseeing other engineers on a project, and so he or she must have a vast knowledge base in order to help guide the team. From making sure employees are meeting goals in a timely fashion to keeping morale high when problems arise, supervising employees is one of the more subtle and important parts of the job.

Project Management

One of the most important roles an engineering manager can play is that of project manager. Project planning, creating timelines, maintaining timelines, overseeing work with contractors and clients, checking in with different parts of the project and keeping an entire team on track is not for the unfocused. Because engineering projects tend to be quite large, oftentimes there are multiple engineering managers working together to ensure the project stays on task and within budget.

Working With Clients

Acting as a go-between for clients and those doing the work is another vital role that an engineering manager can play. From identifying a client’s desires and needs to communicating those desires and needs to the team, acting as a mediator who understands both sides of the project process is essential.

Engineering managers have complex jobs. From organizational skills that track multiple layers of long-term projects to being able to work well with people in the application of intricate technical and mechanical knowledge, engineering managers streamline complicated processes so that difficult jobs can get done.