Upskilling Education

Engineers of the future

Freepik   | Photo Credit: Freepik

As the world evolves by the minute, today’s engineers have to acquire new skills; from complex problem-solving and critical thinking, professional and ethical behaviours, to environmental awareness. The very nature of engineering is changing due to rapid digitisation, and this in turn necessitates learning new skills.

What’s in

New engineering specialisations are being added to the bouquet of pre-existing courses. Computer Science and Engineering is now passé. Blockchain technology that allows digital information to be distributed but not copied is in. Today, Articial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML) are hot. An electronics and telecommunication engineer now has to learn about robotics, and a mechanical engineer should know designing. Today, solar engineering is part of the electrical engineering curriculum. Civil engineers not only learn how to build cities but also about ‘smart cities’.

The rapidly-changing technology environment requires flexibility, which means that an engineer might have to change his/her core engineering path more than once during his/her career. A static engineering degree may not have much value.

Interdisciplinary learning

Another key skill today is interdisciplinarity or the ability to learn and work among varied disciplines. It allows for synthesis of ideas and characteristics from many perspectives. An engineer does not work in isolation; he/she will have to interact with people from a number of other specialisations and blend their ideas. A software engineer creating an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for supply chain management needs to understand transportation and product handling, while an electronics or instrumentation engineer making a biomedical instrument should have knowledge of the medical field.

Soft skills

Along with industry or ‘hard skills’, today’s corporate environment lays equal emphasis on soft/social skills. A technical profession like engineering may rely on concise or accurate information within its ambit. But while communicating with people outside the field it is important to be able to explain technical terms in common language. Communication often proves to be the toughest challenge for engineers.

Today’s engineers also need to have Emotional Intelligence; they must learn presentation and negotiation skills and cope with stress. They must be able to work in and with a team. Capabilities such as strategic planning, risk management and critical thinking, which used to be part of management studies, are being added to an engineer’s menu.

With having to learn and adapt to newer technologies every day, along with enabling and leading teams of non-engineering stakeholders, the engineers of the future are charting a new course.

The writer is the Vice Chancellor of Adamas University, Kolkata.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 7:48:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/rapidly-changing-technology-and-opportunities-need-engineers-to-equip-themselves-with-necessary-skills/article33170927.ece

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