General Advising

Engineering & Technology Management

Advising and Curriculum Planning

When you are first admitted to an ETM program, an advisor will be assigned to you to help you plan your curriculum. Dr. Anderson, our department chair, serves as a backup in case your advisor is unavailable. In addition, our front office is always willing to help. 

Refer to the below FAQ's for the most common questions. 

What is an advisor and what do they do?

How do I meet with an advisor?

What happens when I first meet my assigned faculty advisor?

(How often) do I need to see my faculty advisor?

Should I prepare for the first advising meeting?

Are there general rules for the curriculum plan?

I am an MS student - should I do the capstone project or the capstone class?

I am a PhD student - does the curriculum plan also apply to me?

Do I have to take ALL classes from the ETM Department?

What is an advisor and what do they do?

Pre-admission, advisors can help you decide on what program is right for you. After admission, a faculty advisor is assigned to you to help you plan your curriculum, based on your goals and preferences. Please note that faculty advisors are not prepared to help you with administrative questions, such as library accounts, logins, online registration, tuition payment, or visa status. Our front office can point you to PSU’s resources for these and other questions.

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How do I meet with an advisor?

During Covid-19 we are working from home, and most PSU offices are physically closed. You may email your advisor directly to schedule a time to meet. You may also schedule a time with the Department Chair, Dr. Anderson, at timanderson.youcanbook.me and we have regular online office hours Monday through Thursday at 11am PST.

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What happens when I first meet my assigned faculty advisor?

We will talk about your interests and career plans, identify the courses that are of particular interest to you, discuss your workload outside of the program (work, family), your planned graduation date, and graduation requirements. We will also map out a curriculum plan, which is a guideline that will help you through the first quarters. You can update it (together with your advisor or on your own) at any time, e.g. when your interests shift or a class is offered at a time that does not work for you.

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(How often) do I need to see my faculty advisor?

It is a good idea to meet your faculty advisor at least once, at the start of the program. After this meeting, many students plan their studies and drop or add classes without consulting with their advisors. For anything out of the ordinary, such as taking classes outside of the ETM department or wanting to transfer credits from other institutions, you need to talk to your faculty advisor. It is also recommended that you meet with your advisor at least one quarter before applying to graduate to ensure that you are on track to graduate.

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Should I prepare for the first advising meeting?

You don't have to formally prepare for the advising meeting. Think about your interests and goals. Familiarize yourself with the degree requirements for your chosen program and course descriptions. Are there classes that sound particularly interesting to you? What questions do you have about them?  When do you plan to graduate? How many credits do you want to take per quarter? Will transportation to off-campus classes be a problem? Can you only take classes on certain weekdays? Do you want to take classes in the summer quarter? (You are not expected to have a final answer to all of these questions - your advisor will work with you - but you should give some thought to these prior to meeting with your advisor).

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Are there general rules for the curriculum plan?

Our programs are flexible and you can take classes in any order you want. For the MS program, there are a few general guidelines - please discuss with your advisor if they also apply to you.

Focus on the core classes first - they lay the foundation for many electives. Also, while it is always easy to find an elective that fits your schedule, a missing core class can delay your graduation if it isn’t offered in your preferred quarter.
When choosing core classes for the Master of Science in Engineering Management:

  • Take ETM 520 (Engineering and Technology Management Fundamentals) early - it provides an important introduction.
  • Take ETM 522 (Communication and Teambuilding) early. It prepares you for team projects (common in all our classes) and is a good place to make friends. 
  • Unless you already have a background in marketing ETM 555 (Technology Marketing) is not an ideal class to start with. Take it towards the end of the program.  

The capstone takes place towards the end of the program. You have two options to fulfill the requirement - by taking the capstone project class (ETM 590 Engineering Management Synthesis) or by registering for an individual capstone project with a faculty member.  (There is also a thesis option for 8 credits (instead of 4 credits  for the capstone). Discuss this option with your advisor.)

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I am an MS student - should I do the capstone project (ETM 506) or the capstone class (ETM 590 Engineering Management Synthesis)? What about Ph.D. students?

The most common way to fulfill capstone requirements is to sign up for ETM 590 (offered in summer). Alternatively students can pursue an individual research project (ETM 506) under the supervision of a faculty member. Both are done towards the end of the program, when the student knows the field and research methods and is capable of advancing the state of knowledge. Topics should not be too narrowly focused, but should "connect the dots" between different topics in ETM. Data collection in the field is strongly encouraged. The resulting report should be publishable. To find a topic 

  • Tackle a problem you encounter in your work as an engineer. Collect data on the job to do your research.
  • Take team projects in any of your ETM classes to the next level: explore the topic further, gather additional data, test your team's assumptions, etc.
  • Ask faculty about their research and how you can help them.

If you choose an individual capstone project, be mindful that you will need a faculty member who is interested in the topic and can supervise your research - you will have to “sell” your idea. Talk to different professors to find a good match with your interests. Also, make sure to leave enough time - we recommend you start the process at least two quarters before you plan to graduate.

ETM 590 is not a good option for Ph.D. students. They are expected to complete three independent study projects and ETM 590 does not count toward this requirement, while ETM 506 projects do count.

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I am a PhD student - does the curriculum plan also apply to me?

You will need a close working relationship with your faculty advisor, even if the first quarters in the program typically won't differ too much from the master's program. Set up an appointment and meet your advisor to discuss commonalities and differences of both programs. Make sure you also introduce yourself to the department’s coordinator of the PhD program.

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Do I have to take ALL classes from the ETM Department - I really would like to update my skills in engineering or take a class in the School of Business.

We regularly accept courses from other departments as electives in our program. However, you need to discuss your specific case with your advisor.

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