What are industry leaders looking for in engineering and manufacturing managers?
Dr. Joe Jordan, Professor of Practice for the Department of Engineering Technology, says they need competent professionals who care about their work.
Dr. Jordan says his goal as graduate faculty is to mentor students to be prepared and dedicated through the M.S. in Systems Technology degree program.
In the spring of 2019, Dr. Jordan joined the University of Louisiana at Lafayette as a full-time faculty member. Included in the course load he took over are four core classes in the Systems Technology graduate online program.
"Most of the students will take me at least three times,” says Dr. Jordan. That means engineering technology graduate students are with Dr. Jordan for at least a third of their coursework, gaining valuable perspective from Dr. Jordan’s career and research.
Where engineering and business intersect
The throughline of Jordan’s career has been connecting researchers, engineers, and business leaders both in academia and with non-governmental organizations.
After earning his master’s degree in industrial engineering, Dr. Jordan worked with the extension service at Mississippi State University, which took him to all corners of the state to work with “mostly agribusiness industries.”
“Partly, [we were] making sure that industry was aware of the latest research trends, partly [it] was about making the connections between industry and the university," says Dr. Jordan. “But our real goal was always economic development."
In the mid-2010s, Dr. Jordan served as the Innovation Practice Manager for the nonprofit economic development organization Innovate Mississippi, which aimed to help Mississippi manufacturing businesses compete in global markets. Dr. Jordan’s leadership was instrumental in an initiative to restore domestic manufacturing jobs previously outsourced overseas.
The sum of these experiences has made Dr. Jordan gifted at helping students understand the principles of systems technology through the lens of applied business management.
Systems technology graduate Jason Meaux came to the program as an experienced project manager and was surprised — and impressed — to find Dr. Jordan’s project management class was the most challenging course he had to take.
“I'm quite experienced in project management, so I expected it to be very easy, and it was not,” Meaux says. “I had to work the most for that course. It required a lot of work and gave me a couple of paradigm shifts within my own work and assumptions I held within the project management sphere.”
Commitment to quality
Dr. Jordan’s goal as an instructor is to prime students so they are ready to meet and exceed the expectations placed on them in their field.
“If they walk into a situation at work where they need some understanding of these processes, I want them to be prepared and equipped,” Dr. Jordan says.
In Dr. Jordan’s experience, succeeding in the online graduate program and succeeding in industry require many of the same traits: drive, discipline, and care.
“One thing I've noticed about the students who are most successful is they take the initiative to reach out, to build a relationship with the instructor, and to ask questions when they don't understand.”
Effective communication and critical thinking are also fundamental to leading an organization of skilled and specialized labor through a complex project.
“When I talk to people in the industry these days, they say they really need people who care. They need people who will assume responsibility for a project and care that it gets done right,” says Dr. Jordan. “And I think that's what it takes to get through the graduate program as well.”
Are you looking to move your education and your career forward? See if the M.S. in Systems Technology online is the correct next step for you.