Global Perspectives on Engineering Management

09 Jun 2017 12:00 PM | Anonymous

By Paul Kauffmann

A delegation from ASEM recently visited China as part of our ongoing collaboration efforts with the Division of Engineering Management of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE). The CAE is a highly-regarded organization and is roughly equivalent to the National Academy of Engineering in the US.  Details on the meetings and the various initiatives will be provided in the next E-news. The purpose of this article is to provide one global perspective (in this case, China) on engineering management and the scope of areas generally considered under our EM umbrella. This question is an important one for the society since we are currently working on the next editions of the Engineering Management Body of Knowledge (EMBOK) and the Engineering Management Handbook. It is critical that these revisions reflect the global views and implementations of our profession. 

Photo credit: Simon Philbin

The meetings with the CAE were held in the context of an international conference covering several critical topics: Engineering Science and Technology Development Strategy- Clean Energy Technology and Engineering Management.”  Along with the CAE, the other co-sponsor was the Shenua Group. If you Google this firm you will see it is the largest integrated coal and mining organization in the world with 210,000 employees. So what is the first “take away” from this basic information? Considering that the CAE has a Division of Engineering Management and the Shenhua Group (a major industrial presence in China) supports a major conference (attended by three Nobel laureates) with engineering management as a focus, a logical conclusion is that the importance of EM is well recognized and has a high profile in China.  

The second take away is based on a sample size of n=1 (this conference) and involves the question of what China considers to be engineering management. We have this good-natured debate within the society. Some of our members are “people and team” oriented, some are “systems” oriented, and still others might be “quantitative methods” oriented (e.g. risk, decision science, etc.). I was curious if there was a particular spin at this conference. Based on the papers/ presentations, one could make the argument that this group sees EM covering these key areas:

  • Innovation: Several presentations and papers addressed the concept of EM and innovation driving clean energy technology.
  • Technology Strategy: EM was seen as having an important role in driving the move to cleaner technologies by influencing corporate and government policy. 
  • Major Construction Project Management: Several presentations addressed this critical issue in the continually evolving Chinese economy. Driving through Beijing, it is clear that the construction and major project boom is continuing. 
  • EM Represents Diverse Technical Fields: It was obvious from the representation and tracks of the conference that disciplines such as the sciences and information technology are considered a part of the “E” in engineering management.

This conference appears to be an indicator that the China perspective of EM is doing well and is big picture oriented: innovation, strategy, project management, and broad science related disciplines. We look forward to growing our collaboration and involvement in China. Globally, it is critical the society stay abreast of these evolving views and we particularly need our practicing professionals from all countries and parts of the world to get involved and provide input to the next editions of the EMBOK and Handbook.  Please contact me or Hiral Shah if you want to become involved.

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