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Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Engineers not for the Present

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Author : Vanitha

Increasing commercialisation of education and a very wide choice of study destinations, a student needs help to make an informed decision as to where he/ she should invest his/ her time, effort and money. There is no doubt that by studying in a brand name university/Institution (signifies quality and standard product) any student would have an added advantage.

Professionals with an engineering and technology orientation form an important ethnic group of knowledgeable workers in the innovation economy paradigm. Their learning interaction and tacit knowledge transfer are influenced by individual and collective thinking styles, mental dispositions and cognitive science. The cognitive styles of engineering and technical knowledge workers are significant issues for systems of innovation. Based on the investigation results done on group of 49 management staff in industry in South Africa is possible to conclude, that the cerebral thinking styles are most preferred for engineering and technical knowledgeable workers of the innovation economy paradigm. From an education and training viewpoint, the question remains as how to develop, enhance and/ or impart such psychological skills during the teaching and learning process, as this may require a significant shift from traditional teaching approaches based mostly on the commands and control dictum. This probably calls for new methods of curriculum delivery to ensure that future engineering will achieve appropriate behavioural preferences, as today middle-aged engineering evolves from the production economy to the knowledge and learning paradigm of the innovation generation. 

Professionalism relies increasingly on an ability to respond quickly and effectively, and in a global context, to technological and organisational change, as well as to changing market conditions, client requirements, government policies and national and international regulations. Among these is the need for engineers to be prepared to understand and deal with organisational change on engineering work, as a result of globalisation impact on organisational change, e.g.: after a merger when companies come together, bringing different corporate cultures together and different models for the organisation of work.

What skill sets will engineers need to cope with the rapidly changing world?

How many engineers will there be, and where will they be located?

These are just some of the many questions engineering educators in India are asking as they form the curriculum for future generations of engineers, Engineering educators are now pondering so they can best prepare young engineers for the challenges they would face.

"What is the university’s / institutions role in thinking about what engineering careers are going to look like in the future, and what are our responsibilities in providing our students with the opportunities to have careers that are going to not only prepare them for the day they graduate but probably more importantly for the 15 -20 years after that?" "We have to ask ourselves, will graduates have the attributes and skills that they need for careers over the next 15 - 20 years?"One factor driving curriculum changes is the rise of new technologies that require multidisciplinary skill sets. “There is an increasing need to communicate across disciplines in order to have effective system-level designs,” noting that the rate of change, globalisation, and other workforce issues are also driving changes.

The engineers must adapt to new trends, and educate the next generation of students to arm them with the tools needed for the world, as it will be, not as it is today. 

      Life-long learning is not necessary for us; it is just a reality. We learn for ourselves, we learn from our professional environment, and we learn from the students. Educating an engineer means providing him with knowledge, understanding and insight on a broad base, which means formatting the minds of the students. The keyword for excellence is not knowledge; it is challenge in all directions: students, teachers, and business. We must also be ready to be challenged by them, and we must challenge ourselves. Unavoidable effect of such a policy will be that educated people disappear, so question is in which way to keep and protect knowledge society.  Every engineering educator should include equipping their students with problem solving, communication, teamwork, self-assessment, change management and life-long learning skills.

Quality assessment, employability and innovation in engineering are possibly expressed through the professionalism in engineering practice. Developing and assessing the global competence for engineers is an emerging field of inquiry because of a fact in the globalisation period engineers need:

- A broader multi-disciplinary base of knowledge, such as international commerce and world market, environmental systems and research and technological innovation, 

-  More refined and diverse inter-personal skills, particularly in global collaborations,

-  The ability to live and work comfortably in the transnational engineering environment.

Transmitting knowledge is the easiest part of teaching; far more challenging is the task of equipping students with the critical skills they will need to succeed as professionals and responsible members of society.

Source : The Career Guide

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