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Ready to Take the Next Step in Your Engineering Career? Why a PhD in Engineering Systems Management Should Be on Your Radar

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To be a great engineer, there is obviously a whole range of technical skills and competencies you must possess, depending on your area of specialization. However, as engineers climb the corporate ladder, the emphasis on technical skills starts to taper off, replaced by an increased demand for managerial and financial skills – the type of skills you need to lead people, oversee complex projects, and keep budgets on track.

Nowhere is this more important for engineers than in the GCC, where government and private investments into infrastructure and other large-scale projects are seeing an increased demand for engineers who not only possess technical expertise, but who also know how to lead and manage.

This demand has seen the College of Engineering at American University of Sharjah (AUS) launch a new PhD program in Engineering Systems Management. The program has been specifically designed for engineers who are ambitious to expand their technical role into a management position, or open up new career paths in other engineering fields.

However, the new PhD is not just for those engineers looking to progress in the corporate world. With international recognition and accreditation[1], the program is also ideal for those looking to further their academic careers in engineering. With world-class research facilities on offer (including 49 engineering laboratories), AUS is seen as a regional leader in scientific and engineering research, making it a popular destination for graduate study.

American University of Sharjah currently offers seven undergraduate engineering degrees, and eight engineering master’s programs, with the PhD in Engineering–Engineering Systems Management (PhD ESM), the first PhD to be offered by the university. This particular field was selected by the university as its first doctoral program largely because of the need in the UAE, and neighboring countries, for the knowledge and skill-set afforded by the program. As governments invest in creating knowledge-based economies driven by innovation, this program will help to address research, knowledge and skills gaps, and generate a cohort that can lead scientific and engineering advancements in the region.

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Key components of the program have therefore been mapped to areas where there is the greatest regional demand for expertise, including supply chain management, sustainable construction, project management, smart cities management and engineering management. Emphasis is placed on delivering students with broad competencies that can be applied across a multitude of jobs and that will be increasingly relevant as the world of work changes. Such skills include financial know-how, leadership and networking.

Dr. Richard Schoephoerster, Dean of the College of Engineering at AUS, is confident of the role the PhD will play in the region’s continued economic development. He says:

“Governments across the GCC are committed to a large number of nation-building projects, from vast infrastructure developments, to national health care initiatives. All these projects need engineers, across all engineering specialties. What these projects also need, however, are engineers with the leadership expertise to deliver these projects. The PhD in Engineering–Engineering Systems Management can specifically address this need.

“Having world-class engineering programs available at this level will also help to foster a culture of scientific endeavor. It is important that people looking to pursue programs at this level are given the opportunity to do so here in the Middle East, and not have to travel abroad to Europe or America. Making this program available in the UAE, and having it informed by regional experience and understanding, is essential to ensuring participants of the program are being given the expertise needed to make a positive impact in the region and meet the specific environmental and economic challenges that we are faced with in the Middle East.”

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The PhD consists of core courses, including methodological courses related to aspects of theoretical and applied research. In addition, students are required to undertake six elective courses, which are selected according to student interests. Students are also obliged to complete a doctoral dissertation, allowing them to pursue cutting-edge research and generate original scientific work that can be published in academic journals. Faculty from the College of Engineering will work side-by-side with PhD students, acting as mentors as students navigate the program.

Dean Schoephoerster says that the university is now accepting applications for the PhD, and that anyone with a strong academic background in any engineering field should think about applying:

“AUS prides itself on diversity, and we are looking for candidates for the PhD program from a wide range of engineering programs and careers, from the Middle East, and further afield. We also hope to see a large number of female engineers apply for the program. Nearly 39 percent of the students in our master’s degree programs in the College of Engineering are women, and we would like to see similar figures reflected at the doctoral level.”

To find out more about the PhD in ESM, including admission requirements and course structure, please visit our website:


[1] All graduate programs offered by the AUS College of Engineering are accredited by the Commission for Academic Accreditation of the Ministry of Education‘s Higher Education Affairs Division in the United Arab Emirates. AUS is also accredited in the United States of America by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA, Tel +1 215 662 5606).

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