Managing technology

by Wattie Lo

Hamid Noori (right), chair professor of technology management
Benny Cheung, associate professor and programme leader, Master of Science in Technology Management
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Photo: Edde Ngan
Further studies to complement technological know-how

Regardless of size and scope, companies across the globe thrive on innovative ideas and insights into the changing business landscape. Those that are capable of combining technical expertise with management excellence always come out tops.

Technical executives need a thorough understanding of the world business as much as their companies' market positions and competitive edges. Companies, in turn, not only need to understand what will give them a competitive edge, but they also need to harness success quickly and effectively via the utilisation and management of modern technology.

The master of science in technology management (MSc in TM) programme offered by the PolyU has been designed to help engineers and managers alike accomplish such corporate objectives.

"When somebody starts talking about technology, the first impression you will get is that it's an engineering field. You must be an engineer to work with technology. But managing it, knowing how to implement and justify it, as well as price it are not just engineering things. It takes business acumen. People do not learn those skills from a pure engineering programme," says Hamid Noori, chair professor of technology management, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU).

"The aim of the programme is not for students to look into a particular technology in technical depth. Rather, the programme sheds light on the business side of technology, covering topics that equip students with the ability to acquire, assess, protect, exploit, transfer and finance technology," says Benny Cheung, associate professor and programme leader of the MSc in TM.

Filling the gap

The first of its kind in Hong Kong, the MSc in TM programme emerged in 2004 at a time when experts in technology management were in short supply, and companies that were seeking to expand operations locally and abroad were faced with an increasing array of technological challenges, adds Dr Cheung.

The programme is open to people with an honour bachelor's degree in engineering, business or a related science discipline and preference will be given to those with relevant work experience.

"When we started the programme seven years ago, we looked at other programmes currently available for students in Hong Kong," says Professor Noori. "We put together a multi-disciplinary programme that was unique to the Hong Kong market, one that complements those with a focus on information technology management, not innovation and technology."

Students benefit from a flexible programme structure which broadly covers manufacturing, design, logistics and IT. Students are required to acquire a minimum of 30 credits in order to obtain the master's degree. They may consider taking three compulsory, at least two core, and at most two elective subjects and complete a dissertation. For students graduating without a dissertation, they need to complete a total of 10 subjects consisting of three compulsory, at least three core including a field study, and at most four elective subjects.

Beyond the textbook

The multi-disciplinary programme has also been expanded to offer a wider range of cross-department electives for which students can choose to specialise in their field of interest.

"The programme was designed in such a way as to provide choice for students and allow them to customise it to their special interests," Professor Noori says. Students already equipped with technical skills can enhance their capabilities further with additional engineering courses. As for those interested in finance or marketing, the programme also allows them to take a diverse range of courses at a later stage.

To get a true understanding of the business world, students apply academic theories to real-life business situations using a range of case studies. Field trips to technology corporations in Guangzhou and Taiwan offer crucial insights into the industry.

During such field trips, students are exposed to overseas faculty members and professionals who have worked in different technology industries. They are required to carry out research studies through identifying critical issues in technology management, developing study plans, collecting data and evident via information research, company visits and interviews with business leaders and senior executives. Upon their return, they compile observations and make recommendations.

Knowledge economy

  • Experts in technology management in short supply
  • Master's programme examines the business side of technology
  • Students encouraged to apply academic theories to real-life business scenarios

Taken from Career Times 14 May 2010, A13

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