S. El-Sayegh, H. El-Baz

American University of Sharjah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
The demand for technical managers is increasing. Many universities have started undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare students to succeed in a highly competitive market. Technical managers are unique in that they have to demonstrate both technical and managerial abilities. Graduates of such programs end up working in managing technical people, products or processes taking into consideration the environment they work in. Technical management curricula need to address these distinctive sets of competencies. Several professional organizations have started developing a common Body of Knowledge (BOK) for technical managers. However, there is still a need to refine these BOK’s and the technical management curricula to better suit the needs of the industry that the academic institution serves. The main objective of this research is to develop a set of skills and knowledge areas for technical managers based on the industry needs and use it as a backbone for the development of graduate curricula in engineering management. A comprehensive list of twenty four competencies was developed first based on review of related literature. The competencies are divided into three categories: product, environment and people. A questionnaire was then developed and sent to practitioners in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These practitioners work in the manufacturing, construction and service industries. The responses were analyzed using the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) method to determine the perception of these practitioners as to the relative importance of these competencies. The results indicate that leadership and personal competencies are ranked higher by practitioners than technical competencies. New graduate programs in engineering management need to balance the technical and managerial aspects in their curriculum. The Engineering Systems Management (ESM) program at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) is a unique program that tries to address these industry needs. The program prepares students to demonstrate proficiency in technical and managerial skills. This is accomplished through an innovative curriculum design that meets the market needs. The UAE industry is unique due to its rapid development. The size and complexity of new projects and products are rapidly increasing requiring special graduates who are prepared to handle the challenge. Additionally, UAE locals advance to managerial positions faster than other countries. Thus, they require special education and preparation. This paper presents the results of the survey on the perception of practitioners to the developed model as well as the ESM curriculum. Academic institutions are encouraged to measure the market needs to better develop new programs for technical managers.