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Ask an Expert: Herman Tang, MBA, PhD

Herman Tang

Dr. Herman Tang is a professor and program coordinator in the master of science in quality management program at Eastern Michigan University Gameabove College of Engineering & Technology. He earned his MBA in industrial management from Baker College and his PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Before joining EMU, Dr. Tang was a lead engineering specialist at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). At FCA, he led the engineering specialist team that evaluated, analyzed, and helped improve the system performance and capability (productivity and quality) of body, paint, and general assembly at the vehicle assembly plants. He also worked on the manufacturing development for five vehicle programs and launch support for seven vehicle programs.

Online Engineering Programs: What is something you wish the public understood about quality engineering?

Dr. Tang: Quality engineering (QE) is a cross-disciplinary field in engineering and technology. It is fundamentally technical, applying the principles, methodologies, approaches, and tools of engineering to ensure quality in products and services. Dr. Joseph M. Juran defined QE as having three primary areas: Quality Planning, Quality Control, and Continuous Improvement.

Unlike many engineering subjects, QE is unique due to its interdisciplinary nature and common application in management domains. From this perspective, QE is not a standalone exercise but is actively involved with management in a particular field. Therefore, it may be better to call QE “quality management” (QM) since it integrates technical principles and management exercises.

Furthermore, QE/QM applies to all professional fields without exception, as quality is an essential part of any product or service, or indeed, every aspect of our lives as the end-users of products and services. Thus, everyone is related to quality and QE/QM in some way, regardless of whether they are directly involved in quality-related work.

Online Engineering Programs: What advice would you give to new and aspiring quality engineers?

Dr. Tang: A quality engineer must be well-versed in their application fields, in addition to having their knowledge and skills in quality. While an undergraduate degree in engineering, science, or business can provide a solid foundation, learning dedicated quality skills post-graduation is often preferable. It is recommended to pursue a master’s degree and/or a certificate in quality, as it can pave the way to becoming effective quality engineers and managers.

While generally applicable, quality principles may not always translate directly to specific situations. QE/QM is often viewed as both a science and an art, as real-world challenges are complex. Therefore, integrating principles with hands-on experience is key. It is valuable that quality engineers seize opportunities to “get their hands dirty” on the production floor or directly work with customers to acquirea firsthand understanding of quality challenges and solutions.

Quality professions never lack challenges and exciting achievements. As quality engineers, we never settle for the status quo, continuing to grow professionally with success and new challenges.

Online Engineering Programs: What does the future of quality engineering look like to you?

Dr. Tang: The future will see a wave of emerging technologies, such as AI, IoT, computer vision, big data, etc., in engineering fields. These advancements can amplify QE/QM effectiveness without altering its core principles. QE/QM is adept at embracing these new tools, becoming more efficient and effective in the process.

QE/QM is comprehensive and sophisticated, combines science and art, and involves knowledge and experience. Innovative technologies, like AI, can significantly improve efficiency and effectiveness, e.g., data analysis and decision-making, but will likely complement QE/QM work.

To thrive in the future, quality professionals should be open-minded to the applications of emerging technologies and continuously advance the quality profession. Moving forward to future quality endeavors, I recommend quality engineers keep in mind the two key features of QE/QM: data-driven and result-oriented. Applying new technologies is not the purpose but for effective data management and better results. With the power of new technology, quality engineers will continue to be the driving force behind business excellence.

Is an Online Quality Engineering Program Right for Me?

Before deciding on an online quality engineering program, it is important to consider various factors to determine whether it is the best option.

Firstly, anyone considering enrolling in an online quality engineering degree program must fully understand the program’s campus visitation requirements. Some schools ask that you attend an on-campus orientation. Others ask that you attend an on-campus intensive at regular intervals, like once per semester or once per year. Still, others may ask that you present your capstone project on campus.

Online programs can be a highly attractive option for those who do not have the time to attend lectures or who do not live close enough to the campus to make travel practical. Others, however, may find it difficult to excel in such a program, particularly students who do not perform well without support from professors or their peers inside or outside the classroom in group study sessions.

Featured Online Quality Engineering Degree Programs

Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University’s School of Engineering offers an online master of science in quality management program which is an ideal fit for working professionals providing maximum flexibility. The program prepares students for quality-related roles in any organization.

Consisting of 30 to 36 credits, this master’s degree includes courses such as total quality management; tools for continuous improvement; design of experiments; quality planning; cost of quality; quality auditing; lean service quality; and measuring customer satisfaction, among others.

The major admission requirements for the program include a baccalaureate degree in business, technology, engineering, science, or services, a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 2.7, a personal statement, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international students.

The program opens up opportunities in manufacturing, education, healthcare, food service, social service, public utilities, information technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and more for graduates. The school of engineering also offers an 18-credit graduate certificate in quality management.

  • Location: Ypsilanti, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 36 months

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers an online master’s degree in quality, reliability, and statistical engineering which trains students to pursue quality, reliability, and meaningful results for various applications in modern business settings.

This 30-credit program includes coursework in advanced quality control; design engineering experiments; regression analysis; reliability engineering; quality management; advanced simulating stochastic systems; applied deterministic operations research models; and applied stochastic operations research models. Students have the opportunity to design a program of study that includes Six Sigma Black Belt professional certification in addition to their graduate degree.

Engineering coursework comprises one-half of the courses and the other half is dedicated to leadership and specialization. The degree culminates in a final written or oral examination or the completion of a final report based on a practice-oriented project. Specialization in cross-disciplinary fields can be pursued in addition to the compulsory curriculum for the master’s degree program.

Graduates from this online master’s degree program go on to pursue careers as robotics technicians, validation engineers, computer systems architects, and industrial engineering technologists. To be considered for admission, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, software engineering, or a related field from an accredited institution, a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of the bachelor’s degree, and submit an application, official transcripts, and proof of English proficiency.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months (full and part-time options available)

Purdue University - College of Engineering

Purdue University’s College of Engineering offers interdisciplinary 30-credit master’s of science in engineering (MSE) and master’s of science (MS) programs. Concentrations are available in related fields of cross-disciplinary study.

The quality engineering concentration is a 30-credit master’s degree program focussing heavily on quality engineering topics and technical knowledge. The faculty of the program are the same who teach on campus. As part of the program, students can expect to take courses in quality control; industrial applications of statistics; the design and control of production and manufacturing systems; and product and process design. Students in this program conclude their studies with a capstone project that can be completed individually or as part of a team. Six Sigma certification is offered as a separate certificate training program in lean engineering.

Applicants to the MSE program must hold an undergraduate degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program or its equivalent. The MS degree is available to applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree that is not in engineering or is not ABET-accredited. Application requirements include a completed application, statement of purpose, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a current resume, and TOEFL scores for international students.

  • Location: West Lafayette, IN
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months (full and part-time options available)

Southern Illinois University–Carbondale

The College of Engineering at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale offers a fully online master of science degree in quality engineering and management. This 30-credit program aims to develop engineering and management professionals who can increase productivity, optimize resources, and improve product quality.

This program includes courses such as quality assurance; Six Sigma Black Belt II; lean manufacturing II; reliability analysis; service quality; project leadership; energy management and conservation; and human safety and risk management; among others.

Before applying to this program, applicants must first be accepted by the graduate school which requires a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA or higher. Graduates from this program are employed in various manufacturing, service, and healthcare positions.

  • Location: Carbondale, IL
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

California State University - Dominguez Hills (CSUDH)

The online master of science in quality assurance (QA) program at CSUDH synthesizes the disciplines of engineering, science, and management to prepare its graduates for work as quality engineers in the healthcare, government, and service industries. A balanced focus on technical and administrative educational principles gives graduates the management foundations needed to improve operational performance and implement service-based outcomes.

Students in this program must choose a concentration between manufacturing or service and healthcare. Courses include advanced probability and statistics; quality function management and TQM; reliability; statistical quality control and sampling; advanced experimental design; human factors in quality assurance; measurement and testing techniques; and quality project management & productivity, among others. Students are prepared to take various certification exams offered through CSUDH after graduating from this program. The program comprises 30 credits.

Admission requirements for the program include a four-year baccalaureate degree in a technical field from an accredited institution, a grade point average of 2.5, a background that includes preparation in both college-level mathematics and computer concepts, and TOEFL scores for international students.

Students during this program will learn to manage a quality organization, plan and implement a quality assurance program, troubleshoot and solve quality problems, perform quality cost analysis, and perform quality system audits.

  • Location: Carson, CA
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 32 months

Tarleton State University

The 30-credit master’s of science in quality and engineering management program at Tarleton State University provides students with technical and non-technical backgrounds with a solid foundational knowledge necessary to lead in the administrative field of manufacturing. The program is delivered entirely online and students can choose to attend full or part-time. Emphasizing leadership and how it applies in a manufacturing context, students in this program can expect to learn skills that will help them qualify for opportunities in satisfying and lucrative careers in manufacturing administration.

This program is tailored for working professionals who want to level up their knowledge in this cross-disciplinary engineering field. Students can add additional Six Sigma and statistics coursework to the degree program or a capstone project dealing with relevant, real-life industrial projects.

Students in this program will have the option to take classes in one of the two concentration areas: operations and project management and will then be able to choose the thesis or non-thesis track. Consisting of 30 credits, the program includes courses such as six sigma and design of experiments; logistics, transportation, and distribution; manufacturing systems management; supply chain management; and quality management.

Upon successfully completing the program, graduates can take up roles such as purchasing manager, project manager, manufacturing engineer, global quality director, production supervisor, operations manager, and supply chain manager, among others.

  • Location: Stephenville, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 18 or more months

University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida’s College of Engineering and Computer Science offers an online graduate certificate in quality assurance. Intended for students with bachelor’s degrees in industrial engineering or related fields, this online program prepares graduates for the Six Sigma Green Belt (SSGB) certification.

Upon completion, graduates will be able to discover how they can improve the performance of products and the processes that make them. Comprising 12 credits, the program includes courses such as engineering statistics; reliability engineering; and quality management.

Graduates will be able to take up roles such as clinical project managers, controllers, industrial technology technicians, quality assurance technicians, quality auditors, quality control inspectors, and reliability engineers.

  • Location: Orlando, FL
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months

Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State University offers a master’s of science in engineering management, a fully online degree program with a quality management track. This program is a partnership between the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology and the Coles College of Business. Through a quantitative and comprehensive curriculum, this program addresses the complex industry issues of today by combining management, business, and engineering aspects.

To get accepted into the program, applicants must have an undergraduate degree in engineering technology, engineering, physical science, computer science, or another technically oriented major from an accredited college or university, along with a minimum undergraduate 3.0 grade point average.

This 30-credit program includes courses such as statistical process control; total quality; human factors engineering; regression analysis; managing and leading work behavior; quality systems management; and project management processes.

  • Location: Kennesaw, GA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Florida International University

The online master of science in engineering management program offered by Florida International University includes subjects in total quality management (TQM), engineering project management, and business taught by distinguished faculty experts. Graduates will learn the broad skills and knowledge required for successfully managing and leading technical and non-technical professionals in today's organizations. Including both part-time and full-time student options, this program simulates a business environment where graduates learn and apply engineering tools, best practices, and managerial theories to design and operate industrial systems.

Made up of 30 credits, this online program includes courses such as total quality management for engineers; project management; business law; enterprise engineering; technical leadership for engineers; and engineering data representation and modeling.

To get accepted into the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in STEM, business, or a closely related field from a regionally accredited institution, an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, and should be in good standing with all universities and colleges previously attended. GRE scores are not required for admission.

  • Location: Miami, FL
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months

Michigan Technological University

Michigan Technological University offers an online graduate certificate in quality engineering providing students with the mathematical and conceptual foundations of the techniques and tools used in the field of quality engineering. This certificate is ideal for professionals who wish to enhance their skill set and for degree-seeking students looking to develop a concentration that gives them an edge in their career path.

This nine-credit graduate certificate program includes courses such as statistical methods; advanced quality engineering; introduction to lean manufacturing; and experimental design in engineering. Students learn about concepts of lean manufacturing, prepare statistical reports, techniques, and principles, and solve real-world process, quality, and product-related problems.

Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution, an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better, a statement of purpose, a personal statement, official transcripts, and TOEFL scores for international students.

  • Location: Houghton, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two to three semesters