Future You podcast transcript

Engineering business management (with the University of Sussex)

October, 2023

In this episode of Future You, Dr Zhengguo Sheng tells us about the MSc Engineering Business Management (EBM) at the University of Sussex and the careers it can lead to


In order of first appearance:

  • Dan Mason - editorial manager, Prospects
  • Zhengguo Sheng - reader in the Department of Engineering and Design, and the course convenor of the MSc EBM


Dan Mason: Do you have ambitions to be at the forefront of technologies like robotics and artificial intelligence, while also developing high level business and management skills? Find out how you can achieve those goals in this episode of Future You.

Hello, and welcome to Future You the podcast from graduate careers experts Prospects. We're here to help you achieve your career goals. My name is Dan Mason and in this episode, my guest is Dr. Zhengguo Sheng from the University of Sussex who joined me to talk about the Masters degree in engineering business management. This course brings together engineering and technological problem solving, including the latest in fields such as robotics, 5g and artificial intelligence, with business management and finance skills. Ideal if you want to build a future as a technology leader, or entrepreneur. Don't forget to subscribe to Future You in your podcast app, and head to prospects.ac.uk for more advice on postgraduate study, but for now, let's get into the episode.

Zhengguo Sheng: Hello, everyone. So my name is Zhengguo Sheng. So I'm currently a reader in the Department of Engineering and Design in the University of Sussex. I'm also co convener of our Master in engineering business management. Just a little bit myself about my research interests. So my background is in electronic engineering so you may see me, for example, in the internet of things, or even 5g communication modules in this course.

Dan Mason: Fantastic. Thank you very much for joining us on the podcast today. You mentioned the Masters in engineering business management, that's the course that we're going to be talking about in a bit more detail. Before we do that, could you just tell us what engineering business management actually is what does that phrase mean?

Zhengguo Sheng: Yeah. So essentially, for the engineering business management, so, this is a new I will say career paths that can bring together the engineering and also technology, technological problem solving abilities with the business and management and also financial skills in order to master the operational performance of emerging engineering driven enterprises. That including for example, the net zero engineerings and also focus on sustainability and this is essentially the main concept and also the focus of this course

Dan Mason: So is this quite a new concept then?

Zhengguo Sheng: Yeah, yeah. And also is like more multidisciplinary to cover both engineering or technological domain and also the management skills or the business.

Dan Mason: Okay, so let's get into talking about the course itself a bit more. Tell us about what makes the course at Sussex unique? What are its selling points? Why is this the course that people should be looking to?

Zhengguo Sheng: The student typically needs to have an engineering background. So, this is primarily for students with engineering background, and who want to become technology leaders or entrepreneurs, or even to create their own startup companies in their future career paths. So, basically, student requires a new skill set for example, the business, the management, and also finance related skills, and also given that probably, you know, we all know that UK is a worldwide leader in innovation and also creativity industries, lots of student basically expressed their interest, you know, to start up their own companies or own the business after graduate from this course. So, we offer basically blended skills, including, like I mentioned the business and the management, and finance as well as very advanced engineering topics, from mechanical engineering, robotics, to 5g and also artificial intelligence.

Dan Mason: So what type of students would you say would suit this course? You mentioned about the engineering backgrounds and so on, but what kind of students are you looking for? What entry requirements do you have? But also beyond the entry requirements what sort of personal characteristics do you think would be suited to this course?

Zhengguo Sheng: Yeah, you're absolutely right. So certainly, we welcome students with engineering and even computer science background. But this is not only limited and a student who is non engineering background, for example, with a general science, that including the physical science, or even the life science, and also with technology, background, product design, and also even the mathematics background, are also welcome to apply this course.

Dan Mason: And so, let's get into a bit of the detail about what students will be doing on the course. If you can give us a little bit of an overview of the course structure, how it works, in terms of modules, and so on. But then specifically, I believe there's an industry based project as part of the course if you could tell us a bit in more detail about that.

Zhengguo Sheng: Yeah. So, I think this is my favorite part of this course. So, let me ask you the first question regarding to the whole course structures. So, basically, like I mentioned, this course is in collaborations with in business school and also with our engineering schools. So, the core module of this course is entirely from the business school, for example, cover the essential business management and finance etc. And the meantime, in each term, students also need to choose two option modules. So, the option modules are offered by our engineering school. So, basically, a student with a general engineering background, they also need to take more advanced topics from their own, let's say background or discipline, for example, like I mentioned, we have newly created robotics, engineering modules, and also 5g related modules and also artificial intelligent related modules. So, every student through this course have opportunity to take both business schools, learning modules and also from engineering as well. So, after the two terms of studies, the student will be led to so called individual projects or we also call it industry based product. So, the project is a form of this final, you know, student thesis, and students will have opportunity to practice basically, what they have learned through both modules and also a combining with their own peers, industry and working experience. So, the project itself is created from our academic research and also industry collaborations within our department, which typically requires both practical and also theoretical skills. So the way that we assess our project at the moment is that we are including, for example, interim report, and also presentations to allow students you know, to demonstrate their findings and also sell their ideas in front of a number of panels. So, the panels including the project supervisors, and also potentially their industry supervisors. Of course, finally student need to deliver a large piece of report, which is certainly the thesis by the end of their study. Some projects are undertaken in groups and also replicate the type of professional teamwork expected in industry. So, in terms of the supervisions, a member of our engineering faculty staff will be the main supervisor to lead on project and also with a potential support from industry partners. So I will say the project itself is quite demanding and also need to reflect a blended skills from both engineering or technology domains, as well as from the business, the marketing aspect, so the product itself to promote individual responsibility, and also the skill development in terms of not only just technology but also project management and planning because you need to be into a position as a project leaders for their own project. How can you manage the work plans within few months? And also the budget right and do the reasonable sensible planning, with the supervisors, and also with your teammates? And also, as well as the resources, and also scheduling documentations, and also communications with your team member with the supervisors. And finally, is the critical awareness and also creative thinking to reflect this sort of innovations of your ideas into your project.

So I will also like to share that there are many very successful examples of experience from the previous student or alumni, you know, who basically mutually benefit from such kind of industry based project, for example. So we have a previous graduate student from this program they currently employed by very leading technology companies like Google and Apple, and also student they create their own mobile virtual network operator business. So basically, all these students return to the course, you know after they joined the industries, and then actively contribute to our own course, and give seminars to our current student, and also to be a supervisor, you know, to work together to help our upcoming or even prospective students to build their own confidence through this course and the lead to a more prospective future for the student itself. Yeah, I hope gave you a such a very high level overview of our program, as well, as you know, a brief introduction or description of our industrial base project.

Dan Mason: Yeah, that was fantastic. That's a brilliant overview. And I think it's clear from what you said there the huge range of different skills that students will be developing, if they studied on this course. And also, some of the topics you mentioned things like robotics and artificial intelligence, we know they've been, especially AI has obviously been in the news a lot recently. It's a very current topic. You've started to touch also on the kinds of careers that this course will prepare students for. Could you talk a bit more about what careers you expect students to go into? How this course makes them employable in the future jobs that we're sort of seeing come about now?

Zhengguo Sheng: Because our course is more based on or focused in the engineering domain. So, basically, we will say, the latest engineeering skills such as robotics, the 5g which is a next generation, communication technologies as well as artificial intelligence, and so they are the keys for skill set, I think that students can learn and also experienced from this course. So, all these skills can be a very good reflection in terms of the new trends in the future. For example, now, people talk about industry 5.0 and also sustainability, as well as the megatrend 2030. So, you know, this is the big problem. So, the whole idea human being a society, looking at for example, when our society are highly connected when we talk about highly connected towards 20 certainty, which means that it relies on the latest engineering technologies, communication or artificial intelligence to ask the enabler, and also for example, the more energies people are going to use, as well as our growing economies, the big cities, and also challenges such as global warming as well. So all these macro trends topics or issues relies on the engineering skills to be helpful in these topics. And these combined basically with the teaching of soft skills, such as management and the leadership to make our course available to any technology leader or entrepreneurs that focus on the domains or industry that are like I mentioned before. So, I would say essentially, it's not because the student they have both, you know, management skills and also engineering skills, which focus on the latest industrial domains. So it will give them very promising opportunities in terms of the future career paths and also in probabilities.

Dan Mason: Yeah, and really gives give students the chance to be at the forefront of those of those key sort of global challenges that you talked about, as well. So I'm sure there'll be plenty of listeners who having listened to what you've been saying they're very interested in the course and these topics that a lot of people are really interested in. So what advice would you have for anyone who is now considering applying for this course?

Zhengguo Sheng: Yeah, so I like to share perhaps three advices. The first one is to encourage all the applicants to check our course pathways and also the option modules. So, in this course, at the moment currently we are offering three course pathways including number one, advanced mechanics, and number two 5g electronics or 5g communications and number three is the latest one that we just created is robotics. So each pathway is ways that different combinations of the option modules that we can offer from our engineering department. So students or applicants need to check each of these pathways to see which one will be more suitable for your own background or for own interest. So, you need to essentially to assess the modules on offer and look at whether they match your own goals. But I would like to also mention that the curriculum probably going to be changed in response to student feedbacks. Yeah, so, this is the first advice.

The second advice is to plan ahead and do some background readings. So, this advice is based on the fact that for example you have to decide or determine your pathways or probably your submit already submitted your application profile or even you already got your offer letter. The reason I offer this advice is that because the course itself covers to be quite not very related disciplines, yeah, engineering business management, and also latest engineering topics. So it means that the course itself is quite demanding. And in terms of to handle on both in such a short period of time, you know, we typically, the Masters course only lasts for one year. But from the university point of view is that we usually offer at least of reference or the literature's for the applicants to prepare after issuing offers. So we encourage the students can spend some time during the summer holidays you know, before really you kick off your study, too familiarise yourself with the course itself, and also with the modules, upcoming modules that you're going to pick up. So that will make your life slightly easier when you start with the new term. The second one is the communications. So as a course convenor I always welcome our applicants to contact us directly. So if you have any concerns or questions relate to this course contact us and we can offer a one to one sessions, probably through the Zoom meetings or online meetings to discuss your applications, or you can simply drop me an email so we can be able to help out in your case. Yeah, so these are the three advice I would like to suggest to our audience.

Dan Mason: Brilliant. That's all really good advice and hopefully it'll be really helpful for everyone listening. That's been a fantastic overview of the course it sounds really interesting and I'm sure the listeners will be looking into that now. Thank you so much for your time.

Zhengguo Sheng: Thank you, Dan. Thank you.

Dan Mason: Thanks again to my guest, Dr Zhengguo Sheng for giving us the overview of the course. And just as a reminder if you want to search for it it's the MSc in Engineering Business Management at the University of Sussex. For lots more careers advice and to search for postgraduate courses head to prospects to ac.uk. You can find and follow Future You on Spotify, Apple podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and get in touch with comments, feedback or suggestions by emailing podcast@prospects.ac.uk. That's it for this episode. Thanks for listening, and we'll see you soon.

Note on transcripts

This transcript was produced using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. The audio version is definitive and should be checked before quoting.

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