As our world continues to rapidly change, the engineers of today are integral to building our future. The key skills required of a modern day engineer aren’t too dissimilar to those of the past, however, in order to prepare for the future, an engineer’s skillset must also grow.
Engineers have always been seen as valuable contributors to the world. The fact that many CEOs possess an engineering undergraduate degree, due to the pragmatic and problem-solving focus that engineering courses teach students, is testament to this fact. They have driven improvements throughout history, from the ship-builders of the iron age to the machine builders of the industrial revolution.At NES we place thousands of technical personnel onto engineering jobs across the world, which means we in particular recognise the importance of engineering and STEM subjects. It was the prowess of engineering students that enabled ground-breaking feats such as the Trans-Siberian Railway and the International Space Station.
Engineers of the future will be faced with a number of different obstacles to overcome, including global overpopulation, finite energy resources, rapid technological advancement, cyber security issues, and changing vulnerability to diseases.
Engineers have a key role in shaping how our future looks. Innovations are happening all around us in many engineering fields, including energy – from renewable power generation sources to more traditional oil & gas, - transportation, life sciences and medicine, artificial intelligence, and robotics; but how will engineers’ skills need to change over the coming decades in order to succeed in driving these industries?
How will engineering skills change?
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) report The Engineer of 2020, portrays the world of engineering within a fast changing environment where technological advancements are rapid and constant. The report suggests that fields such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, and high-performance computing will drive economic growth in the future, meaning that engineers with knowledge of these areas will be important.
As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, engineers will need to be multidisciplinary and able to involve themselves in shorter product development cycles.
Sustained technological advancement suggests that engineers will lead projects by understanding and integrating multiple types of technologies whilst spending less time on traditional routine engineering tasks that are seen today. This could mean there are fewer engineers working on a given project, but those that are involved will be given extra prominence.
Certain engineering professions will also take on extra responsibility. For example, Civil Engineers will be partly responsible for creating sustainable environments whilst improving quality of life.
How will engineering education change?
The traditional conventions of educating within the engineering fields will need to be more flexible and reactive to changes in technological advancements. Education will also need to be seen as a constant and life-long process, as opposed to the traditional model of gaining a qualification and then stopping education, at least within an educational environment.
As well as technical education, engineers will need to embrace broader soft skills to succeed in a competitive future, including improving their communication skills, developing an entrepreneurial mind set, and embracing the need for a global knowledge of their field. Although these skills will be learned on the job, educational institutes, in whatever future form they take, will need to embrace teaching these skills to produce engineers that are capable of leading successful engineering projects of tomorrow.
We recruit technical personnel for some of the world’s most exciting engineering projects, offering energy jobs, power jobs and life science jobs at companies who are at the forefront of their fields.