Continuing Education Trends Professional Engineers Should Watch
Engineering is one of the most critical fields in the modern era. Where would we be without the structural, electrical, and medical advancements engineering provides? Would we still be communicating with grunts and scratching primitive cave drawings?
Maybe, maybe not, but regardless of where we would be, the field of engineering is an ever-expanding ocean of knowledge we need to mine. So how do you keep up with the faced pace change? You stay educated.
Read on to discover seven crucial trends to examine for your continuing engineering education.
1. Soft Skills
Engineers have some harmful stereotypes; they’re nerdy, quiet, weird folk. While that’s not true, the profession itself doesn’t lend itself to soft skills. If you’re studying topics as advanced as fluid mechanics, who has time to learn about emotional intelligence?
While it’s understandable why engineers wouldn’t be the most personable, the future will still revolve around people’s ability to integrate other people in their business models.
Even with the dawn of AI and automation, who runs the machines? The engineer of the future will know how to expertly communicate with people and teach them the hard skills of engineering.
Companies also need emotional intelligence since engineers’ jobs could shift to more human-facing duties. In the past, engineers could bury themselves in their design work. In the future, automation may eliminate the need for engineers’ hands-on approach.
If an engineer can’t communicate and bring highly developed personal skills to the team, automation might make them obsolete.
2. Virtual Learning
In the wake of COVID-19, we’ll likely see more classes move online with resources such as webinars. You may be wondering how in the world teachers can conduct labs online. As virtual reality takes shape, teachers could theoretically run virtual labs.
Virtual labs would have a few benefits, for example, minimizing the risk of equipment damages and injuries. Virtual reality classes could simulate real-life engineering situations to better prepare students for the job environment.
They would also cut down costs on the equipment itself, making continuing education more affordable. With more affordable tuition, engineering students and professionals would have easier access to career advancement resources.
Despite not having fully developed technology, classes are already shifting towards more of an online environment. Online courses are easier for continuing education because it allows the student to advance their career as they’re learning.
Virtual learning would only expand on these opportunities.
3. Publicizing Private Resources
The continuing education of the future will make resources that were once private, public. For example, Google and NASA collaborated on a simulation of the Curiosity Rover. Imagine an entire class utilizing the Curiosity Rover as a reference.
Another example of publicizing private resources is flight simulators that mimic specific aircraft such as F-22s. Imagine a world where aeronautical engineers could simulate the flight controls for every aircraft model ever made.
As the internet expands, the public has more access to resources previously only accessible to institutions. As this continues, engineers will have more continuing education resources.
Cybersecurity is a broad field that we all deal with daily. It’s also one of the trends shaking the engineering world today. Cybersecurity has severe implications for our personal and financial lives, as well as the companies we work for and the political entities that govern our laws.
Cybersecurity as an area of study will be a large part of engineers’ continuing education. With so many political implications, the demand for engineers with cybersecurity backgrounds shows no signs of slowing. If anything, the market should increase by significant numbers.
As cyberattacks continue to change warfare tactics, engineers will continue to develop sound systems that protect us and our country. In the future, there will most likely be computer science programs geared toward specific cybersecurity aims. These classes will range from providing cybersecurity for the public sector to government defense contracts.
5. Smart Cities
For civil engineers, the education of tomorrow involves smart technology proficiency. The globe continues to trend toward urbanization, and with the population density at a peak, the demand for smart technologies to improve city life is higher than ever.
Implementing smart technologies is a potential answer to the question of how cities can become more sustainable and maintain a decent quality of life. Intelligent technologies can potentially affect change by improving building designs.
The improved building designs could affect urban life on a mass scale. Using smart technologies could also lead to less consumption among the most populated cities.
6. Sustainable Energy
The way we consume energy shows no signs of changing its trajectory toward sustainable energy. As a result, engineering students and young professionals should focus their efforts on how sustainable energy can change the outlook of engineering education.
Consumer behavior continues to shift toward more renewable energy sources during the climate crisis. Companies are looking for young innovative professionals to add to their team. The engineering education of the future will provide companies with a class of renewable energy-minded engineers.
7. Electric Vehicle Technologies
As you can see, most of the items on this list have to do with the world response to climate change. A Bloomberg New Energy Finance Study found that electric cars and hybrids could represent 35% of all car sales by 2040.
If this is true, car companies will look for young engineers who understand the science behind electric vehicles, and continue to innovate in their field.
Government incentives could also play a role in engineering programs, perhaps sparking electrical vehicle design masters programs. As the world continues to create solutions to the climate crisis, students will have to adapt to the changing educational landscape.
Engineering Towards the Future
The engineer of tomorrow will combine the scientific and mathematical knowledge they learn with the soft skills they develop to become a more well-rounded professional. The engineer of tomorrow will also understand how to implement expanding technologies for the betterment of humanity.
We are amid a pandemic and a climate crisis. We need engineers who understand how to bring humanity into the light. These continuing education paths are just the beginning. Click here to discover how you can further your engineering career using continuing education programs.