What is your most prized possession? The home you live in or the car parked in your driveway may come to mind. Maybe you can’t live without the device you’re reading this on. These commodities, and many others that make our lives easier, were either engineered or produced by engineering processes, and at the heart of these endeavors are project managers.

Responsible for overseeing a team of engineers, engineering project managers work to ensure the timely delivery of goods and services. They lead by example, and through them, engineers, designers, and manufacturers are encouraged to constantly improve and aim for nothing less than perfection. Let’s explore the phases of an engineering project as well as the role managers play in bringing design concepts to life.

Finding a Problem to Solve

Every engineering project begins with a problem. By defining the problem, engineering project managers are able to establish the direction a project will take, the resources needed to bring a product to fruition, and how success can be measured. Research and development follow, with careful consideration given to marketing trends as well as lessons learned from past projects.

With constraints and possibilities explored, engineers move on to the design phase. Nowhere is the iterative nature of a project more apparent than when engineers are designing and prototyping, all while testing and evaluating to improve on their designs. Upon settling on a final design, engineers produce or implement it. Hopefully, they’ve found a solution to the initial problem, with clients and customers enjoying the newly released product. If not, there’s a new problem to solve.

You may be somewhat familiar with the phases of an engineering project, but as an engineering project manager, they will demand your utmost attention.

The Role of an Engineering Project Manager

Although every phase of a project is necessary in order to deliver a quality final product, these phases are in constant competition with one another, vying for attention. Concerned with a project’s strict deadline and budget, a project manager may allocate some or all resources from the R&D phase to the prototyping phase. Such a decision could have a monumental impact on a project’s outcome, and it’s one of many decisions an engineering project manager may be forced to make.

Engineering project management is about balancing these competing phases. Developing a design is easy enough. Doing so while under time and budget constraints is a different story. To do their jobs effectively, project managers must settle on a balanced design that satisfies as many of the project’s needs as possible. Only then can they look at the designs to determine which features can be omitted, thereby saving their customer or company additional resources. Alternatively, a project manager may deem it necessary to scrap a design that would prove too costly or time consuming.

Risk and Reward

The goal of every project manager is to deliver a product or service and to do so on budget and within the established time frame. There is, however, one more goal: to manage risk. Failure is an ever-present threat in project management, but there are other risks to consider, such as the possibility of endangering human life. Engineering teams also face an inherent, greater risk because they strive to solve problems through invention.

Professionals interested in mitigating risk will be interested in Quality Risk Management in Engineering Projects, an online course offered by The University of Texas Permian Basin. Covering such topics as project risk identification, planning, preparation, and response, this course provides engineers with the knowledge and experience needed to overcome obstacles encountered during a project—and it’s just one of the many courses we offer to engineers.

Engineer Your Future at UT Permian Basin

Engineering project managers are tasked with preparing proposals, tracking productivity, and creating schedules, among numerous other responsibilities. But familiarity with manufacturing processes will do little to inspire team members, and excellent communication skills are rarely enough to guarantee product delivery. Project managers must marry engineering and management skills if they are to lead their teams into the future.

If you’re an aspiring project manager hoping to develop your leadership skills, UT Permian Basin offers a convenient online option. Our online Graduate Certificate in Engineering Project Management will empower you to execute projects in a cost-effective manner while producing consistent results. Entirely online and featuring asynchronous elements, our program instills the tools and techniques needed for project management via prerecorded lectures, virtual discussions, and an easy-to-navigate learning management system. Better yet, all credits earned in this program will count toward your Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification requirements with the Project Management Institute (PMI).

At UT Permian Basin, we’ve made it our mission to give you the skill set and credentials needed to advance your career in the engineering field. Apply to our online Graduate Certificate in Engineering Project Management program if you’re ready to step out of your comfort zone and step into a leadership role.