New Leadership Leader

The growth of the Master of Engineering Management Program (MEM) has exploded since its inception a few short years ago. It offers students a unique and exciting opportunity to lead engineering and other technical employees and organizations successfully. For Brandon McConnell, ISE assistant research professor, this fall begins his chance to show his engineering, management and leadership skills as the new MEM Graduate and Certificate Program Director.

“I’m thrilled to help take it to the next level,” shared McConnell. But he understands that accomplishing this goal will take more than just him. “Since I was asked to help, virtually everyone on the ISE Department staff has assisted me in preparing for the fall semester,” he said. “Latha Dombro [the MEM program specialist] continues to focus on our students while providing administrative support. MEM is a big team, and I’m glad to be a part of it in this new role.”

McConnell succeeded Julie Ivy—someone he has been learning from for a long time—as the MEM director. “I took Julie’s stochastic processes course in my first semester in grad school,” he recalled. “She worked our tails off, but it was a blast. She brought a vibrant enthusiasm to each class and patiently explained the material to me (often more than once).” McConnell appreciated working with Ivy because she cares about her students, program excellence, and doing the right thing. “I’m happy to see her get the opportunity she deserves and very glad I had the chance to work with her as a colleague.” Her opportunity was to become the department head of the industrial engineering and operations research program at the University of Michigan.

What’s Next for MEM

New leaders often want to put their stamp on their programs, and McConnell is no different. With the help of Dombro, MEM will hire a dedicated academic advisor and launch a new peer mentor program to help new students connect with continuing students. Behind the scenes, Dombro has been working hard to redesign the welcome process to empower students as they integrate into the program. “These efforts will support our students and enrich their experiences in the program,” explained McConnell.

On the academic side, they are innovating. In Spring 2024, the program will launch a new machine learning course to equip analytics-focused students better. Another new class focused on artificial intelligence (AI) for engineering leaders will cover the strengths and limitations of various AI technologies and how to integrate these technologies into products, services and company workflows. “We’re negotiating to offer additional courses in sustainability, cybersecurity and some other relevant topics to prepare MEM students for tomorrow’s challenges better,” shared McConnell. 

In January 2024, MEM will unveil its graduate certificate in Engineering Management Analytics. This certificate will fill an essential niche in NC State’s analytics offerings by addressing analytics skills in the context of decision-making. “We are excited to launch this to support working professionals in North Carolina better,” said McConnell.