Engineering Management Project

The two-semester core component and culmination of the Master of Engineering Management programme.

Formally coded as ENGGEN 766 A & B, this involves you individually undertaking a major project that relates to a practical situation in your selected organisation or company.  You will be supervised by your MEMgt Programme Convenor, and your project should relate to a practical situation in an organisation or company of your choice.

This may involve a survey and evaluation of modern advances in engineering management practices, the development and implementation of new management strategies, or a management-oriented industrial case study.

Structure and purpose

The Project in Engineering Management (Project M) is split into two courses, ENGGEN 766A and ENGGEN 766B –­ both must be completed in two consecutive semesters to satisfy the MEMgt programme requirements.

There is no examination or submission requirement for ENGGEN 766A, but you must be enrolled in this course to be given approval to enrol in ENGGEN 766B. You will submit two reports at the end of ENGGEN 766B, which covers your Project M from two different perspectives.

Project M is designed to give you the opportunity to apply the engineering management concepts and tools you're exposed to throughout your MEMgt study course in a familiar business environment. Our students generally focus on their workplace, or a business that they are familiar with and have full access to.

The project aims to develop and apply your management skills, enabling you to experience and reflect on your role as an engineering manager in a practical, real-life context. In return, you'll get to demonstrate your newly-acquired management competence to your current or future employer.

You can chose from two options to fulfil the requirements for Project M.

Option 1: Project topic

Research Proposal form (FOE-PG02)

If you have a firm offer from the programme and wish to choose this option, you will need to submit a FOE-PG02 form to the Programme Convenor by the end of the second week of your first semester of study. Note that PG-02 forms will not be accepted unless you have been given a firm offer.

You wiill apply appropriate case study or survey research methodology to scientifically analyse a contemporary issue in the engineering management field. This requires the selection of an appropriate research topic from a predefined list of suggested topics, or alternatively, you may propose a pertinent engineering management topic of your own.

You will be allocated a University of Auckland supervisor who will help you develop an appropriate research methodology. If you wish to propose your own topic, you will need to obtain permission for your topic from your supervisor. Please note that depending upon your topic, you may need to apply for Ethics Approval before you commence with data collection and to conduct your research.

The following is a list of approved Case Study Project Topics for Project M:

Project Topic #1: Managing Health and Safety

Managing occupation health and safety is arguably the most important role of industry leaders and senior managers, whatever the engineering sector or discipline. After conducting a comprehensive review of literature in the area of health and safety in the context of an engineering sector of your choice, synthesise your findings into a theoretical framework that guides leaders and managers to better manage health and safety outcomes. Conduct case study interviews with at least three project teams or survey at least ten managers in order to validate your theoretical framework.

Project Topic #2: Leading Collaboration

Collaboration plays a critical part in the success of engineering management. After conducting a comprehensive review of literature in the area of collaboration in the context of an engineering sector of your choice, synthesise your findings into a theoretical framework. Conduct case study interviews with at least three teams or survey at least ten managers in order to validate your theoretical framework.

Project Topic #3: Knowledge and Intellectual Property Management

Many engineering projects have a temporary project team that cease to exist after the project reaches its completion. This poses a problem as the knowledge, learning and insights generated throughout the project dissipate away as the project team disbands. The capture and preservation of such knowledge is critical for future project success. After conducting a comprehensive review of literature in the area of knowledge management in project environment, synthesise your findings into a theoretical framework that guides managers to better leverage and transfer knowledge. Conduct case study interviews with at least three project teams or survey at least ten project managers in order to validate your theoretical framework.

Project Topic #4: Leading Innovation

Innovation is the essence of much of real engineering. Companies either innovate or stagnate and eventually die to more innovate competition. Whilst some companies and business sectors innovate well, others are by nature more conservative. After conducting a comprehensive review of literature in the area of innovation management in the context of an engineering sector of your choice, develop and conduct a comprehensive survey of at least 20 engineers and/or managers to find out what innovation means to them and what approaches they currently use to introduce innovation in their projects. Based on your findings and understanding of best practices in the literature develop recommendations for improving innovation in your sector.

Project Topic #5: Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Business ethics, corporate social responsibility and sustainability are hot topics in engineering management. Having a grasp of these issues is vital for future leaders of engineering industries in the 21st Century. After conducting a comprehensive review of literature in the context of an engineering sector of your choice, develop and conduct a comprehensive survey of at least 15 industry leaders to find out what ethics, corporate social responsibility and sustainability (or a subset of these topics) means to them and what approaches they currently use to lead their organisations. Based on your findings and understanding of best practices in the literature develop recommendations for future leaders.

Project Topic #6: Developing resilience

Small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) comprise more than 90% of all companies in New Zealand. Their limited resources and management capabilities makes this group of companies very vulnerable to changes in the physical and business environment. After conducting a comprehensive review of literature in the area of risk management and organisational resilience, develop a theoretical framework guiding owners and managers of small companies to measure and improve their resilience. Conduct case study interviews with at least three small companies or survey at least 10 owner/managers of SMEs in order to validate your theoretical framework.

Project Topic #7: Strategic decision making

Small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) comprise more than 90% of all companies in New Zealand. Research shows those companies that are strategic in their approach are more likely to succeed in growing into the next stage of organizational development. Conduct case study interviews with at least five owner/managers of SMEs about a recent major strategic decision that they have made. This could be in the form of buying a new machinery, expanding into new markets, acquiring another business, or uptaking a new paradigm such as lean thinking. Based on the analysis of the interviews develop a theoretical framework about strategic decision making in SMEs. Develop recommendations for owner managers of SMEs on how to be more strategic in their decision making.

Project Topic #8: Technology start-up capabilities for each phase of growth

Conduct in-depth analysis of at least five technology start-ups as well as a comprehensive review of literature in the area of start-up growth phases. Identify critical success factors and organisational capabilities for each phase of growth. Based on these findings, develop a self-assessment framework for founders of technology start-ups to identify which phase of growth they are at and what capabilities they need to develop in order to increase their chances of success and survival.

Project Topic #9: Performance improvement

Conduct in-depth analysis of at least two existing publically quoted companies in an engineering sector of your choice. Identify critical success factors and organizational capabilities drawing upon annual accounts, annual reports, stock market performance and financial news media for at least five years. Based on these findings, develop a critical assessment of the performance of the companies against a suitable benchmark and develop strategic recommendations for improving the company’s performance.

Project Topic #10: Business case for your own business

Develop a business plan for an engineering-related business idea of your own. Conduct market research using either primary or secondary data sources, and prepare detailed business start up financial forecasts, start-up strategy and implmentation plan. Submit to a business case competition or to business angel/venture capitalist and obtain their feedback, and incorporate this into an updated business plan.

Option 2: Embedded researcher in host company

In this option, you will be embedded as a researcher in a host company. To select this option, you must have a pre-existing relationship with your host company or organization, or already be employed by that company, thus your employer will act as the host company for the project.

It is important that your project is focused on a particular issue or problem that your host company is facing. It is also desirable for at least one framework in the management literature to be applied to the problem to obtain maximum learning benefits for you and to add value for your host company. The process of defining the project brief may be guided by your host company supervisor, manager or a sponsor.

A good starting point is to identify two or three problems or opportunities within your host company, then discussing possible implementation approaches with your host sponsor. Then, with the help of a University of Auckland supervisor, you can identify management theories that can be applied to your particular project.

You will need to develop a project proposal that is approved by your host company sponsor and University supervisor before proceeding into detailed implementation.

Project scope and submission requirements

At the end of your enrolment in ENGGEN 766B, you'll submit two reports which covers Project M from two complementary perspectives:

  • A Company Report, which functions like a consulting report to your host company
  • A Research Paper concentrating on the academic/theoretical aspects of the same project

Both components are weighted equally.

Company report

The company report is a working document aimed specifically at providing the host company with project information, results and recommendations which will be of use to them in their operations. Its maximum length should not exceed 12,000 words, excluding appendices. Where a project report contains confidential information, and/or its disclosure could be harmful to the host company, confidentiality will be assured. Such reports will be seen only by the project supervisor and a second University assessor.

The required format of the report, including content options, is as follows:

  1. Title page: This should include title, author, date, and descriptive statements such as: "The Engineering Management Project M Report presented to the University of Auckland by ..... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of the Master of Engineering Management". If the project is confidential, a statement to this effect should also be made on the title page.
  2. Executive summary: This is an abstract of the project which includes the project objectives, approach, major conclusions and recommendations, and any special comments. It should not normally exceed one page.
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Acknowledgements
  5. Body of the report
  6. List of References
  7. Bibliography (if applicable)
  8. Glossary of terms (if applicable)
  9. Appendices (if applicable)

For further advice on report writing and formatting, refer to the book Writing for Science: A Practical Handbook for Science, Engineering and Technology Students, Heather Silyn-Roberts, Auckland, Prentice Hall/Pearson Education, 3rd edition 2012, which is available in the Engineering Library collection.

One copy of the company report should be printed (preferably double-sided), soft-bound, and submitted to the Faculty of Engineering Student Centre by the due date, and an electronic copy needs to be emailed to your programme convenor or project supervisor.

Research paper

In addition to the company report, you'll need to submit a research paper that complies with the required academic standards. This research paper generally deals with the same project topic and subject matter as the company report, but presents the information from an academic perspective. It should demonstrate how relevant literature, theoretical criteria and considerations, models or concepts raised by the project have been addressed in the project.

While you're not expected to develop new theories at this level, your Project M should contain sound academic and practical context. Therefore, concepts or models relevant to each analysis or decision making situation should be reviewed and the most appropriate chosen for application in the project setting.

The research paper should cover the theories and methodologies used in conducting your study, along with the main conclusions you've arrived at. It must be presented in a general manner without disclosing company details, and should be written to a standard suitable for publication in an academic journal or conference. Its length should normally not exceed 5,000 words including references.

The paper, if eventually considered suitable for publication, will be co-authored by you and your supervisor. You'll assume primary authorship, while your supervisor, following assessment, will provide appropriate input and advice to ensure the integrity of the finished manuscript. Submission your paper also implies that it contains original work which has not been published previously.

One copy of your research paper should be printed (preferably double-sided), stapled and submitted to the Faculty of Engineering Student Centre by the due date, and an electronic copy emailed to the programme convenor or project supervisor.