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MeasurementBlues
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MBA
MeasurementBlues   7/21/2014 8:55:48 AM
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I actually thought it would be a good idea to get an MBA part time. My best classes were economics and the worst were accounting and business law. Coming from an engineering background, I found the whole cencept of law illogical.

The required finance class was easy, but boring.

So I ended up taking a job as an editor.

antedeluvian
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Blogger
Re: MBA
antedeluvian   7/21/2014 9:35:34 AM
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Martin

I actually though it would be a good idea to get an MBA part time.

When I finsihed my engineering degree, since I finished so far back in the pack, I decided that I wouldn't be a good engineer. I then did an MBA. It seemed to me an engineer as a manager was a good plan since a) you could get further organizationally and b) there were always managers who needed to understand what the engineers were doing.

Circumstances conspired and got me into engineering rather than management, and I have only recently moved part-time into management.

GarySXT
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Freelancer
Engineering and Economics
GarySXT   7/21/2014 11:38:16 AM
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Good engineering is as much about good economics as it is good technology.

 

Larry Desjardin
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Re: Engineering and Economics
Larry Desjardin   7/21/2014 11:40:45 AM
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Well said.  It is at the nexus of technology, markets, and economics.

Sanjib.A
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CEO
Re: MBA
Sanjib.A   7/21/2014 12:17:42 PM
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Exactly!! I tried doing MBA part-time while doing job but found finance a boring subject. Mathematical problems finance were interesting to solve but I found accounting horribly confusing...the balance sheet...oh!! I had to give-up for other reasons, but I was happy that I got rid of that...after all I like to spend time with electronics during that extra time became available...

But I agree that to be a good engineering manager or an entrepreneur, once should have good understanding of finance.

Measurement.Blues
User Rank
CEO
Re: Engineering and Economics
Measurement.Blues   7/21/2014 12:25:56 PM
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I'd like to amend GarySXT's statement to say:

Financially successful engineering is as much about good economics and good marketing as it is good technology.

I argue that you can have good engineering without financial success. remember Beta video tape?

ericha2
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Rookie
ROI or NPV?
ericha2   7/21/2014 2:26:32 PM
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I personally like ROI better for comparing individual project, as the ratio lets you combine multiple projects for better return.  Given the scenario of N projects of which you don't have funding for all of them, however, I think NPV of sets of projects--each of which maxes out the funding available (each of which has a positive NPV)--is the best comparison.  I wouldn't try all possible combinations; I'd start with the ones that have the highest ROI and come up with several possible groupings that uses up the available funding, then pick the one with the highest NPV.

This assumes, of course, that each project is risk-free.  That is rarely the case.  As part of this exercise I'd try to make some reasonable guesses about how risky each project is.  Is this something the team has done before (not very risky)?  Is it new to the team (pretty risky)?  Is it new to the world (very risky)?  What's the likelyhood that a competitor will emerge that drops your sales--do you have strong barriers to entry (such as patents, regulations, customer relationships, or proprietary technology or distribution channel  that's hard to duplicate), or is this an area that a strong competitor would naturally want to enter?  What's the likelyhood that there is a supplier gets too much control and sucks up all the profit (think Intel and Microsoft for PCs).  Discounting ROI & NPV for risk is not an easy task--there is no simple formula you can use.  But to not include this as part of the analysis neglects what happens in the real world!

I also personally like the idea of doing some portfolio-style analysis on projects--some portion are low risk with low return, and some portion are higher risk with higher return.  If the high-return projects pay off, that's great.  If not, you've still got the low-risk projects to keep you going.

ericha2
User Rank
Rookie
Re: Engineering and Economics
ericha2   7/21/2014 2:32:40 PM
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I think why the product failed really matters in this case.  As I understand it, the reason Beta lost in the US was pretty much random chance--there were a few more movies available in VHS, and that tipped the market just a bit in the favor of VHS.  Positive feedback then ensued--more movies were made for VHS because there were more VHS players, and vice versa. 

 

There is also a camp that believes that super-long recording time (6 hours?) was first available on VHS; this probably had some effect as well, and may have been just enough stimulus to get the above-mentioned positive feedback going.  I don't remember how long it took Sony to respond to this, but I think it was quite a while--well over a year.   If that's the case, then it's really bad Engineering (in the broad sense--including management and marketing, but also the product developers as well) to allow a competing format to have a key feature for some months with no response.

Larry Desjardin
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Blogger
Re: Engineering and Economics
Larry Desjardin   7/21/2014 3:38:46 PM
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I think this is correct.  VHS and Beta were both viable standards, but VHS developed the rental market faster. It was a virtuous cycle (or a viscious cycle if you were in the Beta camp).  The slight VHS rental market share advantage led more people to get VHS players. Then more outlets concentrated on VHS in response to the larger number of players. Then VHS players were heavily in demand, and the rental outlets focused even more on VHS. And so forth until there was only VHS.  Had Beta gained a matching share early on in the rental market, the whole industry could have switched to Beta.

We saw the same thing play out on Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD.  Here is was the movie studio adoption that swung the advantage to Blu-Ray. 

Larry Desjardin
User Rank
Blogger
Re: ROI or NPV?
Larry Desjardin   7/21/2014 3:42:25 PM
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Ericha,

 

Thanks for being the first commentor to take a shot at the NPV vs. ROI question. I'll write you down as a vote for ROI.  I will refrain from answering yet, to see if we have more comments on this subject.

 

Yes- risk is a crucial element! Good comment. There are many ways to handle risk, each with their own peculiarities.

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