Urban Systems

Program Goals

Technical knowledge

The Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) in Urban Systems is structured around a project-based curriculum that covers all stages of the community and infrastructure system life cycles. You will develop an integrated understanding of the range of professional roles and technologies that support urban infrastructure systems and also explore the social, ecological and economic factors that are so important for successful infrastructure systems management.


Collaborating with your peers under the direction of leading researchers and instructors from industry, you will:

  • identify major ways in which urban infrastructure and services affect society, including linkages to environment, health, quality of life and the economy
  • apply systems thinking, sustainability and resiliency considerations, and risk analysis to the design and operation of infrastructure
  • model and analyze large-scale infrastructure projects from multiple perspectives to support strategic-level decision-making
  • apply principles of engineering economics to the modelling, valuation and analysis of infrastructure projects
  • conduct a municipal infrastructure asset inventory and create a municipal infrastructure asset management plan
  • Perform life-cycle costing of infrastructure assets

“Our program focuses on integrated learning experiences: students work on real-world projects to apply the urban systems knowledge they build in the classroom.” – Susan Nesbit

Business foundations

Professional success requires both technical understanding and managerial and business competence. Through courses offered by UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School, you will explore business strategy and innovation, operations and logistics, project management, and organizational leadership. These classes are an opportunity for you to gain foundational business knowledge in:

  • managing processes in manufacturing systems and supply chains
  • assessing visual analytics techniques for analysis and communication
  • evaluating project management processes and demonstrating their use
  • analyzing sustainability opportunities across a range of industries
  • presenting recommendations for organizational leadership challenges using a case study analysis approach
  • understanding business-decision making through the lens of key functional areas (strategy, marketing, operations and logistics, accounting and finance, human resources and organizational behaviour, and entrepreneurship)
  • understanding basic principles of organizational strategy and innovation

Leadership and interpersonal skills

Effectively managing people and successfully leading teams requires a wide range of interpersonal skills. The MEL offers professional development workshops throughout the 12-month program. These extra-curricular sessions cover topics that include communication, teamwork, coaching and mentoring. Group projects and collaborative problem-solving are embedded into the MEL courses, creating ongoing opportunities for you to practice your skills as a manager and leader.

“Our program’s emphasis on teamwork and project work also helps to build the skills our graduates will use as leaders throughout their careers.” – Stephanie Chang

Learn more about some of the most significant challenges being faced within the industry and how this innovative leadership master’s degree can place you in a position to address some of our world’s most pressing problems.

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