Comparing Management Engineering to Systems Design Engineering, Computer Science, and other programs

Management Engineering is typically compared to business programs, software engineering, and industrial engineering

Here's how it compares to a few other programs:

Management Engineering versus Systems Design Engineering

While systems design engineering covers some similar topics such as scheduling and optimisation, ergonomics, information management and project management, they have a stronger focus on the design of mechanical and electrical systems, placing more emphasis on product design and development. Management engineers typically work at the next higher level of analysis and solution design; more emphasis is placed on optimisation and system efficiency. Compared to systems design engineering, management engineering contains a lot more courses in supply chain management and information technologies.

Management Engineering versus Computer Science programs

Both computer science and management engineering require a foundation of math (calculus and linear algebra) and science (chemistry and physics), but after the introductory levels, engineering requires some more science (e.g. thermodynamics, materials science) while computer science requires discrete mathematics and theory of computation.

For a core sequence of courses in computer science, management engineering and computer science programs are very similar, containing the following common courses:

  1. Introduction to computer programming,
  2. Algorithms and Data Structures,
  3. Databases and Software Design, and
  4. Software Engineering,

but with the difference that #3 and in particular #4, may be covered in multiple courses in computer science, and thus in more depth, than in management engineering. Management engineering also shares some courses that are required or electives, that are basically the same if they were to be offered in a computer science program (every program is different):

5. Human Computer Interaction

6. Introduction to Machine Learning (currently called Data Mining, but the name will change soon)

7. Search Engines 

8. User Experience and Analytics

Where are the differences?

A computer science student is going to take courses in digital logic, computer organization, computer architecture, operating systems, computer networking, compilers, etc.  These courses teach you how a computer works at a low level and how to build computing systems, e.g. how to build Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X.  

Meanwhile, a management engineering student gets coursework in: optimization, supply chain, inventory control, scheduling, decision making (using math to make decisions), quality control, simulation of systems, human organizational behavior and design, etc. A management engineer learns how to solve problems like how to reduce wait times in the emergency room by better scheduling of hospital resources, or how to best target advertising to avoid wasting money on people who will never buy a product, etc.

So, if you want to build computer systems where your focus is on the problems of the computer, then a computer science program is the right choice. If on the other hand, you find math and computing interesting but want to apply it to solve many complex real world problems, the management engineering program is a better choice.  

Management Engineering versus other engineering disciplines

In construction, manufacturing, and transportation, management engineers interact with civil, chemical, mechanical, and electrical engineers. Management engineers may be more involved in the requirements and the problem analysis, but must also be able to understand what the other engineers are doing, communicate with them, and understand the rationalisation of any decision. Management engineers also interact with software and computer engineers in high tech firms, again in requirements and problem analysis. In all cases, a management engineer might also be involved in project or product management.

How does management engineering relate to the Management Sciences option?

The Management Sciences option is a set of six courses that other engineering students can take. While it exposes the student to a number of management engineering subjects, it is only a small subset of the full management engineering education.