What is a professional organization?
Various professions have organizations that offer benefits for the members. These entities might be on a local, national, or international level and comprise individuals who share a common vocation or interest. There can be conventions, symposiums, webinars, meetings, educational resources, and the award of professional certificates or certifications. Some are open to students enrolled in programs associated with the organization with often a reduced membership fee.
Organizations available to college students provide an excellent opportunity to network and establish business relationships that may bode well for future employment. Journals, newsletters, and other publications might be a source of expanding a student’s knowledge and familiarity with a particular discipline. Joining and actively participating in an organization could be advantageous to add to one’s resume fresh out of school. As a student member, you will learn more about the specific profession and tailor your studies to an area of significant interest.
Different Professional Organizations
At the top of the list is the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM), whose world headquarters is in Huntsville, Alabama. Their five Executive Committee officers have a doctor of philosophy, and all of them teach at American universities, except a former President in the United Kingdom. They were founded in 1979 by a professor, Bernard R. Sarchet, at the University of Missouri (now Missouri Science& Technology), the first Chair of the Engineering Management Department at this school. Consequently, Professor Sarchet has two awards named after him, which the ASEM presents.
There is a myriad of benefits for members who are industry practitioners, faculty members, and students. Some of these are:
- Free current and archived webinars for continuing education
- Monthly newsletter complete with social activities and conferences
- Network with faculty and practitioners on a global basis
- Career opportunities through job openings in engineering management
- ASEM professional certification programs for entry-level and experienced technical managers
Full-time students can join for only $30 annually, and professionals pay $135. There is also a student-to-professional membership wherein the fee is $30 for the first year and $67.50 for the next two years. As a student member, you have web access to these invaluable resources:
- The Engineering Management Journal (EMJ)
- A Guide to the Engineering Management Body of Knowledge
- The Engineering Management Handbook
- Professional Certification Preparation Guide
A professional membership offers all of the above plus the proceedings from the ASEM International Annual Conference and webinars presented by industry experts.
Another consideration is the Society for Engineering and Management Systems (SEMS), which offers memberships to existing and future managers and researchers. One of the benefits is the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) Connect that affords professionals and students online access to industry leaders and peers. In addition, this portal is a means to find jobs through the IISE Career Center. Membership is available with the IISE for industrial engineering, healthcare, ergonomics, and related sectors. Students may join for $39 annually, including a subscription to the ISE magazine, conference discounts, networking, local chapters, student award for best paper, and volunteer opportunities.
The professional membership at IISE is $169 annually; benefits include events, training, award-winning publications (Industrial Management for engineering managers), case studies, leadership role, career center, awards, and many more.
Established in 1967, The Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE) is open to college and university educators, students, administrators, and industry professionals in the U.S. and abroad. One responsibility of the organization is the accreditation of two and four-year degree programs in technology, management, and applied engineering. Geared more towards technology than management; however, students might want to check out one of the Student Chapters from this list. Students at community colleges, technical institutes, and universities are welcome to join for $25 per year. A subscription to the Journal of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering, online Career Center, online discussions, and conferences are some of the benefits of membership.
To boost or develop leadership and management skills is the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), with collegiate and professional memberships. The former awards more than $800k in annual scholarships to women enrolled in engineering and related programs. The organization holds scheduled meetings to provide advice on graduate schools to career counseling. Student members also receive the SWE Magazine, professional development seminars, networking opportunities, and a career center (internships and full-time employment).
The SWE is home to their Leadership Competency Model created in 2010 to develop current and aspiring managers. The Model consists of six competencies:
- Business Acumen: Develop effective strategies, manage finances, and interpersonal skills
- Communication: Conflict resolution, sharing information, and manage with respect
- Coaching and Mentoring: Career development, mentoring skills, and sponsoring
- Diversity and Inclusion: Promote a sense of belonging and value differences
- Leadership Abilities: Be a catalyst for inspiration and women’s advocate
- Self-Management: Evaluate one’s strengths and weaknesses; lifelong pursuit of knowledge
There are a host of other organizations that concentrate on one specialty. Not all of these apply to engineering management. Examples are:
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
- American Institute of Chemical Engineers
- American Institute of Plumbing Engineers
- Audio Engineering Society
- Society of Automotive Engineers
- Society of Plastics Engineers
If you end up in a career involving one of these specialties, of which there are many more, you can always read more about each organization.