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Engineers are the analytical problem solvers among us. Complicated devices like aircraft flight control mechanisms, robotic manufacturing assembly lines, rate-adaptive pacemakers, computer communication systems, and the like require the separate skills and talents of specialists in mechanical, electrical, architectural, chemical, and computer engineering. But systems and control engineers are the ones who coordinate everyone’s efforts to make all the human and technological elements work together.
From large corporations to small startups, companies in the automotive, aerospace, computer, manufacturing, power generation and other businesses, as well as government agencies, seek people with the interdisciplinary and problem-solving skills to bring together the various moving parts of their organizations and make things happen.
Even if you’re currently working full time, you can earn an online MS in systems engineering and be on your way to the next step in your career. To be sure it’s the right step, consider your answers to these questions:
Do You Like To Figure Things Out?
Having the curiosity to figure things out until you know how they work is one of the key attributes of successful engineers in general, and it might be even more so for systems engineers because part of their jobs is integrating the human element into the equation. And humans, as you may have noticed, don’t always work the way you’d wish they would.
Do You Like To Turn The Theoretical Into The Practical?
Theoretical concepts are great as far as they go, but business and industry require applications of those concepts that work in the real world. Putting theories up on their feet to use in practical ways is where the rubber meets the road.
Are You A Problem Solver By Nature?
Engineering, and systems engineering in particular, is based on solving problems and being able to grasp the small details as well as the big picture. Whether it’s building a bridge, designing an interconnected network of power stations, or modeling an assembly line that’s efficient as well ergonomically comfortable for workers, what’s required is the ability to take disparate elements – and the people who create them — and combine them cohesively so everything works in tandem.
Are You A Creative Thinker?
Creativity comes in all sizes, and it’s all to the good, but systems engineers need to be able to flex their imaginations to conceptualize innovative solutions to problems old and new.
Are You Good At Math?
This should be an easy question. Most people are well aware of whether or not they enjoy and are good at working with numbers. You don’t need an undergraduate degree in engineering to pursue a masters in systems engineering, but you do have to demonstrate strong proficiency in calculus and math.
How Are Your Mechanical Skills?
Were you the problem child who took apart the toaster to see how it worked? And more importantly, put it all back together in time for breakfast? Are you good at visualizing and understanding the relationship between elements and can you make rational assumptions about them and then put them into practice?
Are You Comfortable With Other People?
Working with and leading other people is part and parcel of systems and control engineering. If you’re someone who enjoys working with teams and with being the one who establishes consensus and moves the group forward to finding a problem’s solution, then you’re the right person for the job. Are you a good listener? Really hearing what people are saying is the only way to understand what they want and need. The stereotype of an engineer is more introvert than extrovert, but a collaborative spirit is essential to getting the best out of your team members and encouraging the group’s success.
Do You Communicate Well?
Both in how you speak and how you write, your communications have to be sufficiently detailed but also clear and readily understandable by your engineering peers as well as by management and clients you will be working with who don’t have the same technical backgrounds. Miscommunication is often a primary reason that projects fail, so while you may know what you mean, it’s essential that everyone else does, too. Fortunately, good communication is one of the required skills that can be learned and practiced and that improves over time.
If you enjoy meeting and interacting with all sorts of people, helping them do their best work in a congenial environment, and contributing to the overall operations that keep a business happily humming along, you might enjoy a career in human resources.
What’s that, you say? Well, human resources is what used to be called personnel or sometimes human relations or industrial relations. In its broadest definition, it’s the management of everything related to the employees of an organization.
The people it employs are a company’s most valuable asset, which makes a human resources manager’s role a very important one. That role is to ensure that all employees are nurtured and supported with programs, policies, and procedures that help them succeed and thus in turn help the organization succeed. In most organizations, the HR department is responsible for:
When individuals or department heads have need for new staff members, the HR department coordinates and manages every aspect from talent recruitment marketing to final placements. Seeking out potential new hires may include participating in job fairs and recruiting on college campuses as well as creating online and other forms of advertising. HR also manages interviewing, skills testing, substance testing if required, reference checking, and selection of top candidates for positions.
HR sets salary levels and benefit packages in accordance with company policy and surveys of compensation in comparable positions in the field as well as in the company’s geographic area. It also administers raises and salary bonuses.
HR managers develop and oversee personnel policies and provide guidance in situations where workplace conflict resolution and disciplinary actions are required. This includes understanding and applying laws and regulations regarding gender and other forms of discrimination as well as monitoring lesser infractions that might disrupt the workplace.
Career Development and Training
Human resources provides orientation and training for new hires, and oversees continued career development and training programs for all employees. This might include designing team building exercises, leading seminars and classes in-house, and arranging for off-site seminars and training sessions. HR may also provide employee counseling toward promotion within the company and help develop succession plans.
The HR department develops and oversees employee benefits and wellness programs, including health insurance, pension plans, disability compensation, and similar programs. It is also administers workplace safety programs and is the primary contact for work-site accidents and injuries.
In large organizations, human resources may administer nutritional and food service programs, childcare facilities, health and physical fitness programs, and counseling services.
Part of HR’s mission is to build and sustain employee morale, so HR may administer recognition and reward programs like bonuses, awards, gifts, and contests as well as company events and parties.
Administration of lay-offs and dismissals, and the myriad details involved with leaves, retirements and resignations are also part of the tasks of the HR department. This includes managing severance pay, settlement of benefits, return of company property, and oversight of non-compete and non-disclosure agreements.
If some or all of the organization’s employees are unionized, HR staff may be responsible for coordinating negotiations and overseeing compliance on both the union’s and company’s parts.
Specialties in HR
In a small company one person may manage the entire range of HR responsibilities, but in larger organizations there are a number of specialized positions. If you are considering human resources as a career, you might choose to specialize in recruiting, training, benefits, compensation, labor and employee relations, information systems analysis, or work-life management, to name a few of the positions you’ll find in both corporations and nonprofit organizations.
Thinking Toward Your Future
Most of the tasks of HR require a sturdy understanding of the applicable law. Here’s where a master of jurisprudence in labor and employment law is a definite boon. What is jurisprudence? Simply put, it’s the philosophy of law. More precisely, it’s the interaction of the law within a variety of settings and specialties. Specific to the field of HR, it’s the study of the interaction of the law with all of the policies, procedures, and day-to-day decisions involving employee-employer relations that need to be compliant with the increasingly complex world of local and national laws and regulations.
You do not need to be a lawyer to work in HR, but an advanced education in employment law will enhance your ability to do the job. The good news is that you can earn the MJ degree online while you’re currently employed, and enhance your own value to the company.