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Engineering Your Future: Launching A Successful Entry-Level Technical Career In Today's Business Environment

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Engineering Your Future: Launching A Successful Entry-Level Technical Career In Today's Business Environment


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  • topics covered include: self management; managing relationships with others; communications skills; understanding how organizations work and how to work in organizations; project management; total quality management; engineering or decision economics; basic business accounting methods; legal issues; ethics; the design function; the role and selection of consultants; marketing professional services; and shaping the future.


  • Copyright 1995
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/4"
  • Pages: 464
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-221052-5
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-221052-2

This book provides results-oriented techniques for succeeding in business -- techniques that are rarely taught in engineering school. KEY TOPICS: Once, technical competence and hard work were all anyone needed to succeed as a technical professional. Those days are gone. Now, new technical professionals need to know how to manage yourself and others. How to survive in the corporate world. How to communicate. How to understand the needs of the organization. How to analyze the business implications of their work. Most of all, they need to learn how to become a leader. Engineering Your Future shows young technical professionals the ropes -- all of them. It covers the entire range of business management topics, from accounting and economics to quality management and the legal aspects of an engineer's work. Throughout, Engineering Your Future emphasizes results-oriented techniques that are immediately useful on the job. MARKET: Entry-level technical professionals and students preparing to enter the workforce.

Sample Content

Table of Contents



Definitions of Engineering. Definitions of Management. Similarity of Engineering and Management. Definition of Engineering/ Technology Management. Steps of Engineering/Technology Management. Leadership, Management, and Production: Deciding, Directing, and Doing. Leadership, Management, and Production Defined. Traditional Pyramidal, Segregated Organizational Model. Shared Responsibility Organizational Model. Focus of This Book: Management and Leadership. Engineer as Builder. Common Sense and Common Practice. References. Supplemental References. Exercises.

2. Management of Self.

The New Work Environment: Culture Shock?. No Partial Credit, . Little Tolerance for Tardiness. Assignments Are Not Graded. Schedules Are More Complicated. Higher Grooming and Dress Expectations. Teamwork Is Standard Operating Procedure. Expect and Embrace Change. Employment or Graduate School?. Full-Time Graduate Study. Full-Time Employment. Learn from Potential Employers. Time Management. Time Is a Resource. Time Management: The Great Equalizer. Time Management Tips. A Time-Management System. Key Ideas about Time Management. The First Few Months: Make or Break Time. Recognize and Draw on Generic Qualities and Characteristics. Never Compromise Personal Reputation. Learn and Respect Administrative Procedure and Structure. Do All Assignments Well in Accordance with Expectations. Get Things Done. Trim Your Hedges. Keep Your Supervisor Informed. Speak Up. Dress Appropriately. Seek Opportunities to Develop Communication Skills. Seize Opportunities for You and Your Organization. Choose to Be a Winner. Summing It Up. Managing Personal Professional Assets: Building Individual Equity. Personal Professional Assets. Annual Accounting. Careful Management of Personal Professional Equity. Continuing Education. Involvement in Professional Organizations: Taking and Giving. Licensing. Licensing Process. Thoughts on Taking the Fundamentals Examination While in Engineering School. Comity. License Renewal. References. Supplemental References. Exercises.

3. Management of Communication Skills: Communicating to Make Things Happen.

Listening. Be Attentive. Verify Understanding. Use What Is Learned. Two Critical Distinctions between Writing and Speaking. Report Writing Tips: A Chance to Shine. Define and Write to Likely Audience or Audiences. Ask about Written Report-Writing Guidelines and Standards. Outline and Incubate. Retain Some of the Outline in the Report. Write Easy Parts First. Write in the Third Person. Employ a Gender-Neutral Style. Write in an Active, Direct Manner Rather than a Passive, Indirect Manner. Use Rhetorical Techniques. Adopt a Flexible Format for Identifying Tables, Figures, and References. Use Lists. Design a Standard Base Map or Diagram. Use Format Writing. Establish Report Milestones. Produce Attractive and Appealing Report. Cite All Sources. One More Time. Concluding Thoughts. Speaking Tips: How to Make an Effective Presentation. Reluctance to Speak. Define the Audience and the Setting. Prepare the Script. Prepare the Graphics. Practice Out Loud. Arrange for and Verify Audiovisual Equipment. Suggest a Proper Introduction. Deliver the Speech. Prompt Postspeech Questions and Answers. Follow Up. Take Extra Care with International Audiences. Body Language4. References. Supplemental Reference.

4. Management of Relationships with Others.

Types of People. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Theories X and Y. Definitions. Perspective. Applications of Theory X and Theory Y Knowledge. Probable Dominance of Theory Ys. Delegating. Reasons to Practice Effective Delegation. Reluctance to Delegate. Delegation Isn't Always Down. Delegation Tips. Managing Meetings. Reasons to Meet. When Not to Call a Meeting. Tips for Successful Meetings. Dealing with Difficult People and Situations at Meetings. Miscellaneous Thoughts. Appreciating and Working with Support Personnel. Essential Members of the Organization. Challenges Unique to Working with Support Personnel. Tips for the Entry-Level Technical Professional. Managing Your Boss. Caring Isn't Coddling. References. Supplemental References.

5. The Organization of Organizations.

The Concept of an Organization. Legal Forms of Business Ownership. Individual Proprietorship. Partnership. Corporation. Organizational Structures. Functional. Regional. Client. Matrix. Single- versus Dual-Ladder Advancement Systems. References. Supplemental References. Exercises.

6. Project Management.

The Centrality of Project Management. Relevance of Project Management to the Entry-Level Technical Professional. Project Time Management1. Chronological List2. Gantt (Bar) Chart3. Critical Path Method (CPM)5. Review of Earlier Questions. Key Ideas. Project Plan. Project Team Kick off Meeting. Work Plan Format. Work Plan Avoidance Syndrome. Project Monitoring and Control. Project Postmortem. Client Input. Team Meeting. References. Supplemental References. Exercises.

7. Total Quality Management.

Quality Defined. Quality as Opulence. Quality as Excellence or Superiority. Quality as Meeting Requirements. Stakeholders. TQM Defined. Principles of TQM. Comments on Some of Deming's 14 Points for Management. Tools and Techniques. Metrics. Written Procedures. Flow Charting. Fishbone Diagrams. Pareto Analysis. Brainstorming Sessions. Benchmarking. Partnering. Stakeholder Input. Results of TQM. Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Closing Thoughts. References. Supplemental References. Exercise.

8. Decision Economics.

Broad Applicability of Decision-Economics Tools. Distinction between Economic Analysis and Financial Analysis. Steps in a Decision- Economics Analysis. Determine Physical and Economic Lives of Project Components. Diagram Revenue and Construction, Manufacturing, Replacement, and Operation and Maintenance Expenditures. Select Interest Rate. Put Costs and Benefits on a Comparable Basis and Calculate Benefit-Cost Ratio or at Least Cost. Consider Intangible Benefits and Costs. Recommend Best Alternative. Discounting Factors. Single-Payment Simple-Interest Factor. Single-Payment Compound-Amount Factor. Single-Payment Present-Worth Factor. Series Compound-Amount Factor. Series Sinking-Fund Factor. Series Present-Worth Factor. Capital-Recovery Factor. Gradient-Series Present-Worth Factor. Summary of Discounting Factors. Benefit-Cost Analysis. Example A: Alternatives with Variable Costs but Identical Benefits. Example B: Alternatives with Variable Costs and Benefits. Example C: Alternatives with Variable Costs and Benefits and with Significant Intangibles. Concluding Thoughts. Sensitivity of B/C to Interest Rate. Sensitivity of B/C to Economic Life. Sensitivity of Costs to Load, Capacity, or Other Measure of Service. Analytic and Empirical Approach. Computer Simulation Approach. Empirical Approach. Concluding Statement. Rate of Return or Return on Investment. References. Exercises.

9. Business Accounting Methods.

Why Do Accounting? The Balance Sheet: How Much Is It Worth?. The Income Statement—Introduction. Relationship between the Balance Sheet and the Income Statement. Financial Ratios. Liquidity Ratios. Leverage Ratio. Activity Ratios. Profitability Ratios. The Impact of Time Utilization Rate and Expense Ratio on Profitability in the Consulting Business. The Multiplier. The Income Statement as Part of the Business Plan for a Consulting Firm. Project Overruns: Implications for Profitability and Personnel. References. Supplemental References. Exercises.

10. Legal Framework.

The Entry-Level Professional and Legal Considerations. Legal Terminology. Changing Attitudes: Added Burden on the Technical Professional. Liability: Incurring It. Liability: Examples of Failure and Lessons Learned. Collapse of Hotel Walkway. Collapse of Supermarket Roof. Collapse of Scoreboard. Collapse of Bridge Section during Construction. Other Failures. Liability: Minimizing It. Insurance: Financial Protection. Preventive Actions. Danger Signals. Damage Control. Maintaining Perspective on Liability Minimization. References. Supplemental References. Exercises.

11. Ethics.

Defining Ethics. Teaching Ethics. Academia: A Corner on Ethics?. Legal and Ethical Domain. Codes of Ethics. Engineering Professional Organizations Codes of Ethics. Codes of Ethics of Other Professional Organizations. Corporate Codes of Ethics. Government Codes of Ethics . Looking Ahead: Less Ethics or a Different Kind?. Three Possible Future Directions. Key Ideas. References. Supplemental References. Exercises.

12. Design.

The Design Function. Disproportionate Impact of the Design Function. Design in Terms of Papers Produced. Drawings. Technical Specifications. Nontechnical Provisions. Design as Risky Business. Design as a Creative, Satisfying Process. The Word Engineer and Creativity. Concluding Statement. References. Supplemental References.

13. Role and Selection of Consultants.

Why Retain a Consultant? Characteristics of Successful Consultants. Consultant Selection Process. Cost versus Quality. Steps in the Selection Process. References. Supplemental References.

14. Marketing Technical Services.

Financial Motivation for Marketing Technical Services. Definitions of Marketing and Some Observations. Marketing Research and Case Studies. Concluding Observations. Suggested Working Model for Planning and Implementing a Marketing Program. Feedback. Tools and Techniques. References. Supplementary References. Exercise.

15. The Future and You.

The Changing World of Engineering and Other Technical Work. Who Will Be Available to Do Engineering and Other Technical Work? Who Will Future Engineers and Other Technical Professionals Serve?. What Kind of Work Will Twenty-First-Century Engineers and Other Technical Professionals Do?. Recap of the Changing World of Technical Work. The Future—Can You Spare a Paradigm?. Anticipative and Reactive Modes. Definition of Paradigm. Examples of Paradigms. Some Characteristics of Paradigms. Examples of Paradigm Shifts. Some Possible Future Paradigms. The Bottom Line. Elements of Leadership. Honest and Possessed of Integrity. Conscious of the Mission: Preaching It, Teaching It, and Reaching for It. Setting Goals, Establishing Strategies and Tactics to Achieve Them, and Following Through. Always Learning. Courageous. Calm in Crisis and Comfortable with Chaos. Creative, Synergistic, Imaginative, Innovative. References.

Supplemental References.

A. Special Features of Civil Engineering. B. ASCE Code of Ethics. C. IEEE Code of Ethics. D. College Placement Council Principles for Professional Conduct for Career Services and Employment Professionals. E. Excerpts from the Boeing Company's Business Conduct Policy and Guidelines.



Engineering Your Future: Launching a Successful Entry-Level Technical Career in Today's Business Environment provides the recent engineering or other technical graduate or the entry-level technical person with basic, pragmatic management and leadership concepts, knowledge, and skills.

These results-oriented fundamentals should be immediately useful on the job and will also help the young professional learn more efficiently from day-to-day professional experiences. Technical competency, although necessary, is not sufficient for the young engineer or other technically educated professional who wishes to quickly realize his or her potential in the consulting business, industry, or government.

Technical competency must be supplemented with basic management proficiencies and leadership understanding if the entry-level professional is to be productive for his or her employer. Unfortunately, management concepts, knowledge, and skills are typically not introduced in undergraduate engineering and related curricula, and virtually nothing is taught about leadership. Accordingly, management and leadership must be learned by doing, often inefficiently at high monetary cost to the employer and at the risk of jeopardizing the young professional's career.

This is not a transition from engineering to management book. A premise of this book is that all engineers and other technical professionals are managers from day one -- at least they are managers of their time, their assignments, their relationships with others, and their careers. The best leaders in technical organizations are most likely to be those professionals who began to develop management skill and leadership understanding very early in their careers who knew, from the beginning, how to develop the soft as well as the hard side of their careers.

Career management is becoming increasingly important. The parents of today's young professionals often entered into unwritten but binding contracts with their employers. In that era, the young engineer or other technical professional would typically focus on technical matters and do them well, and the employer would, in turn, agree to provide long-term employment. Increasingly, such employment contracts are vanishing, average periods of employment with a given employer are diminishing, and major organizational upheavals caused by financial difficulties, acquisitions, and mergers are increasing.

Perceptive young professionals will recognize these changes, anticipate employment problems, and prepare for employment opportunities. This book will help you engineer your career.


The book assumes that readers are, or soon will be, graduates (BS or MS) of an engineering or other technical program with little or no engineering, business, or management experience. The book further assumes that readers want to take a proactive approach and quickly build on their technically oriented education to become even more productive members of their organization.

Because of the intended audiences, senior and/or graduate student or recent graduates, the book is written to be used as either a textbook or a reference book for young professionals. It could also be used to support seminars and workshops directed at young engineers and other technical professionals. Portions of the book are intended to be of value as a textbook or reference book to young professionals outside of technical fields, that is, in business, government, and other areas. Much of the material presented in this book will also be immediately useful to students. That is, while they are students, future technical professionals can utilize some of the tools and techniques presented in this book, such as, but not limited to, time management, delegating, managing meetings, project management, total quality management, business accounting, and marketing.


Many aspects of management and leadership are covered. Examples are self-management, management of others, understanding how organizations work and how to work in organizations, project management, total quality management, engineering or decision economics, basic business accounting methods, legal issues, ethics, the design function, the role and selection of consultants, marketing professional services, and shaping the future.

Chapters are arranged in accordance with the preceding order of topics. Although some sequencing of chapters should be followed for effectiveness, such as Chapter 10, Legal Framework, being followed by Chapter 11, Ethics, there is no compelling argument for reading or teaching all chapters in their order of presentation in the book.

A set of exercises is included at the end of most chapters to provide opportunities to further explore or apply ideas, information, and techniques presented in the chapter. Some exercises are well suited for modest to major team projects. Because effective teamwork is an important aspect of modern management, faculty members and others who use the book for teaching courses and for leading seminars and workshops are urged to assign some exercises to be done as team projects. By so doing, college students or seminar or workshop attendees will benefit in two ways. They will learn more about the subject matter, and they will learn more about being an effective member and occasional leader of a team.


Most of the material presented in this book was developed over a six-year period beginning in 1988 when I began teaching Engineering Management, a senior course in the Department of Civil Engineering at Valparaiso University. The material was further refined starting in 1990 when I initiated a two-day seminar titled Management for the New Engineer as part of the American Society of Civil Engineers Continuing Education Program. This course was later offered in video-tape format to improve its accessibility by the entry-level technical professional community. Opportunities to conduct special in-house seminars and workshops and to provide management and leadership consulting for engineering organizations naturally grew out of the preceding teaching efforts and resulted in further expansion and refinement of what now is the content of this book. I clearly recognize and sincerely appreciate the many contributions made by former engineering students, seminar and workshop participants, and clients.

Other materials and ideas, reflecting primarily management and leadership applications, were obtained and developed over almost three decades while I was employed in the public and private sectors in engineering practice and education. Besides practicing engineering and being an educator, I administered and was administered to, managed and was managed, and led and was led. During that time, I witnessed some very enlightened and some very poor management of individuals, projects, and organizations. These were excellent learning experiences and constitute the personal experience base of this book. I received a wealth of useful ideas and information from, and have been positively influenced by, numerous individuals. My debt to other professionals is suggested, in part, by the extensive list of references that appear at the end of each chapter. I drew ideas and information, and, therefore, reference materials from a wide range of sources. The resulting eclectic collection of cited and supplemental references indicates that technical professionals can learn much about all aspects of management and leadership by looking both within and outside of their fields.

Book writing labor and logistics are challenging and a major management effort. I gratefully acknowledge the crucial role of Vicki F. Farabaugh, formerly my administrative assistant in the College of Engineering at Valparaiso University, who supervised essentially all of and did much of the word processing, produced the graphics, and obtained reference citation information. I also appreciate the meticulous proofing of punctuation, grammar, and spelling performed by Camille Gudino, secretary in the college. Much of the writing of this book was completed while Jerrie, my wife, and I traveled and worked for six months on our vessel Sabbatical while on sabbatical from Valparaiso University. The university's support is appreciated.

Finally, Jerrie provided source materials, constructively critiqued the entire Text, and, as always, provided total support.

Stuart G. Walesh


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