Department of Systems Engineering & Management

Department of Systems Engineering & Management
Program Details

Engineering Management (GEM)
Current as of: 09/17/2015

Degree Type: MS

Program Description

The Graduate School of Engineering and Management, Department of Systems and Engineering Management, offers the Master of Science in Engineering Management.  The degree enjoys full accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) for those students who hold prerequisite qualifications for the ABET designation.    The non-ABET degree title is Master of Science (Engineering Management).  The degree reflects the importance of enhancing the interface between technology and management in environments dominated by Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.  Upon completion of the degree, students will have a better appreciation of the broad field of engineering management and a better understanding of the integrative nature of processes and relationships inherent in most technology-driven organizations.  This will prepare them to manage both existing and emerging technologies while guiding innovative solutions to the complex problems their organizations face.

In a complex world characterized by technology-driven advances, an organization's success depends not only on access to cutting-edge technology.  It also depends on the ability to manage the technology and develop dynamic capabilities to address rapidly changing environments.  Therefore, to enhance their success, organizations must have individuals who possess both technical and managerial expertise.  In a 1991 survey though, there was a strong consensus among engineering deans that technical expertise and on-the-job development are not sufficient to meet management responsibilities in highly technical and dynamic environments.

This program is thus designed for individuals operating in a technical environment who want to be more prepared to integrate technical and managerial skills within a decision-making context.  Students will learn to define problems, formulate approaches to investigate problems, collect and analyze data with appropriate tools, and interpret findings for managerial action.  With courses in management science, project management, decision and risk analysis, systems analysis, and behavioral science, students are able to develop their management proficiency within their area of technical specialization.  The strength of the program is thus its multidisciplinary approach in which core management principles are integrated with graduate-level technical education.

Students will learn to apply the appropriate concepts, methods, and tools related to fundamental engineering management responsibilities (i.e., planning, organizing, leading, and controlling resources) in a technical environment.  The curriculum includes a foundation based on effective and efficient organizational processes, related managerial decision-making skills, and the importance of an integrated systems perspective.  Upon completion of the program, students will be well prepared to conduct and present methodical research to solve problems and support decisions.  Since the program is designed to appeal to students from different disciplinary backgrounds and technical environments, the core tools taught in the program provide breadth in the area of principled management.  To provide flexibility for meeting individual objectives of depth, the program includes a concentration sequence that allows students to develop expertise in a particular specialization area.

Admission Criteria

All students working in a STEM-related environment are welcome to apply, to include those from industry and the public sector.  Although the core elements of the program do not require specific knowledge from any particular engineering discipline, students must be comfortable with technical concepts and topics.

The general requirements for admission to the Master of Science program in Engineering Management are:

  1. An undergraduate degree in an appropriate area of engineering or science an undergraduate degree from another STEM-related discipline will be acceptable provided it contains significant technical coursework or is accompanied by work experience in a technology-focused organization.
  2. Mathematics courses to include at least one year of college-level calculus and a course in probability and statistics.  Applicants without a previous course in probability and statistics, and who otherwise have strong academic backgrounds, may be admitted but required to take a probability and statistics course in their initial quarter.
  3. A cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) the GPA in mathematics-related courses should be at least 3.0.
  4. Either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) are required. For the GRE -153V/150Q (500 verbal and 600 quantitative for tests taken prior to 1 August 2011) is required. Weaknesses in one area may be offset by strengths in the other area, provided the combined score exceeds 305. For the GMAT, a score of at least 550 is required 

Program Educational Objectives

Graduates will be well positioned to lead in a technical environment, both independently and collaboratively, while applying decision-making and analytical tools to solve operational problems.  They will be able to propose, develop, and implement effective policy through a holistic systems approach in their area of specialization as judged by their immediate supervisors.

Student Outcomes

Students  should be able to...

  1. Use effective oral and written communications
  2. Understand and describe the integrative nature of processes and relationships within the engineering management field and within their respective technical environments.
  3. Understand and apply the concepts, methods, and tools related to planning, organizing, leading, and controlling resources and processes in a technology-focused organization.
  4. Understand and apply principles of organizational behavior to manage people-centric processes in a technology focused organization.
  5. Understand and apply critical thinking skills and appropriate analytical techniques to support more informed decisions.
  6. Conduct and present methodical research, using a systems thinking approach, to analyze problems and recommend solutions.

Curriculum Description

The program is conducted in six academic quarters and a short term (18 total months, beginning in September) for full-time students.  The short term provides an orientation to curriculum options, a review of basic statistics, mathematics, and writing skills, and an overview of the engineering management program.

Because of its flexibility, the program may be viewed either as a terminal degree program with a professional focus or as preparation for more advanced graduate work.  The minimum curriculum satisfying the degree requirements consists of two methods courses (8 credit hours), four engineering management core courses (14 credit hours), an approved focus sequence (14 credit hours), and 12 credit hours of thesis research.  Totaling 48 credit hours, each of these areas is required to effectively lead large or small engineering management efforts.

  1. The methods courses provide a strong background central to informed decision-making, which prepares students for follow-on coursework and research efforts.  A foundation in probability helps students better understand and describe the nature of uncertainty in real-world decision-making, while statistics prepares the student for rigorous problem solving.

    RSCH 630                  Research Methods
    STAT 535                  Applied Statistics for Managers II
  2. The engineering management core provides both quantitative and qualitative concepts concerned with the many facets of engineering management.  These concepts include courses in organizational behavior, systems approach to analyzing and solving problems, project management, engineering economics, business process improvement, and analytical tools.  These core areas represent an interdisciplinary approach to the degree and establish a framework to help integrate courses and research streams within both the program and the department.

    ORSC 642                    Organizational Behavior
    SENG 570                    Lean for Scientists and Engineers OR
    IMGT 669                    Business Process Improvement
    SENG 610                    Project Management
    EMGT 550                    Engineering Economics and Decision Analysis
  3. The focus sequence may be based on disciplinary specialization providing technical depth or functional specialization providing breadth across multiple disciplines integrated in a technology-focused area.  Both approaches are intended to prepare the student for future leadership roles in a technology-focused organization.  Example sequences are provided in the next section.  Provisions are available to tailor sequences to meet specific student and research requirements.  In most cases, the sequence will have no more than one 500 level course with the remaining courses 600 level or higher.       

    Facility and Infrastructure Management

    Intended primarily for the Air Force Civil Engineer (CE) community, this focus sequence provides students with an in-depth study of the unique challenges associated with the management of resources and processes dedicated to facility and infrastructure assets.  The primary objective is for students to better understand the unique nature of the built environment, enhance their technical and managerial skills, and prepare themselves to effectively lead applicable engineering efforts. 

    As this focus sequence is intended for the CE community, the career field has established the following stakeholder expectations:

    GEM graduates will conduct quantitative and qualitative analysis from a systems perspective to enhance decision-making while addressing interdisciplinary challenges across the spectrum of the Civil Engineer's Mission, with particular emphasis on asset management, construction management, and crisis management.

    Required for all students in this sequence:

    EMGT 641                  Construction Contracts and Law
    EMGT 680                  Advanced  Project Management and Risk Analysis

    Specialty  areas (pick one of  the following specialization areas)

    EMGT 611/612/713        Crisis Management
    EMGT 621/622/723        Asset Management
    EMGT  631/632/733        Construction Management

    In order to attend the GEM program, Civil Engineer officers must be selected by the career field development team (DT)  and be academically accepted to AFIT.  DT selection is based on guidance published in the AFPC advanced academic degree and Special Experience Exchange Duties (AAD/SPEED) message, normally published in March every year.  The CE assignments team also posts supplemental guidance in the 32E OAT  CE Assignments page in milBook.  Please click here to begin the AFIT admission process.

    AFPC selects members for the Enlisted-to-AFIT program.  Enlisted civil engineers have attended the GEM  program in the past.  Consult your career field manager to see if AFPC  will support an AFIT assignment as this is a " needs based" competitive program.  AFPC  typically announces this program late in November.   TSgts through SMSgt are eligible to apply.

    Science and Technology  Management

    This sequence provides students with an in-depth study of the unique challenges associated with management and leadership responsibilities in the science and technology (S& T) community, particularly within the Department of Defense (DoD) and Air Force.  The primary objective is for students to better understand the unique nature of the S& T community, build their technical and managerial skills, and prepare themselves to effectively lead S& T efforts.   

    Required for all students in this sequence:

    RDMT 554                  Management in R& D Organizations
    RDMT 654                  Capstone
    RDMT 541                  Operational Technology and Innovation
    QMGT 680                  Project Risk Analysis OR
    COST 610                  Cost Risk Analysis
    SENG 520                  Systems Engineering

    Information and Technology Management

    The Information & Technology Management sequence is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to oversee both the information management and information systems needs of Air Force, DoD, and allied military organizations in future assignments as middle and upper-level managers. The focus of the sequence is on improving the student's understanding of, and the ability to manage information/knowledge in today's dynamic information technology and global environment. 

    Required for all students in this sequence:

    SENG 520                  Systems Engineering
    IMGT 561                  Database Management
    IMGT 657                  Data Communications
    SENG 640                  Systems Architecture

    Human Factors Engineering

    The Human Factors Engineering sequence is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to lead the development of systems with a significant human interface component within the Air Force, DoD, and allied military organizations while providing skills to enable future assignments as middle and upper-level managers. The focus of the sequence is on providing graduate level education in the fundamentals of Human Factors Engineering with an understanding of Human Systems Integration.

    HFEN 560                    Human Factors Engineering

    Choose  one of the  two courses:

    SENG 560                  Human Systems Integration
    HFEN 610                  Human Performance Modeling
    HFEN 620                  Human Systems Modeling
    HFEN 663                  Human-Computer Interaction
    HFEN 670                  Human Interaction Technologies

  4. The thesis must address a real-world problem involving engineering management.  The principal purposes of the thesis are to demonstrate the student's ability to integrate concepts and techniques acquired through coursework and to demonstrate scholarly pursuit of a focused research question, all of which leads to enhanced analytical and decision-making skills for graduates.  In some cases, thesis topics may be provided by faculty working in one of the respective focus areas, often in concert with DoD and USAF agencies interested in sponsoring student research in areas of practical concern.  Students are expected to participate in no-credit colloquiums throughout the year that will assist them in the identification, development, and execution of their research these colloquiums also provide students a forum to share their research with their peers and engage in scholarly discussions.

  5. Electives are offered in addition to strict degree requirements and broaden the student's horizons and/or provide more in-depth knowledge in a specific area of interest.  Electives may also be required by the thesis advisor in order to adequately complete the required thesis research.   

In addition to degree requirements, and to demonstrate full-time status, all DoD-sponsored full-time students must complete an average of 12 credit hours per quarter (i.e., 72 total credit hours).  The additional credit hour requirement may be achieved by taking additional courses of interest, participating in internships, engaging in directed readings courses, or conducting additional research.  Sponsored students may also be required to take additional courses to satisfy the education needs of the sponsor, qualify for the award of an additional advanced degree code, or gain certifications.  In no instance will more than 12 credit hours of graded thesis registration be allowed.

The Master's degree program in Engineering Management is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. Enrollment and graduation data is located on AFIT's Institutional Data webpage.   

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