The engineering profession is in constant flux. So are the knowledge and the skills sets required. Where does that leave a modern-day Leonardo da Vinci or Nikola Tesla? What challenges do they face?
Engineers’ jobs have changed. The old systems have been swept away by new developments – the digital revolution, the energy transition, energy efficiency and stronger globalisation. Engineers have to keep adapting by broadening their range of skills.
Digitalisation now holds sway. The digital environment is constantly evolving and concepts become obsolete sooner. So engineers must remain agile. They are expected to stay focussed on technological developments and keep up with them through continuous learning.
The energy transition is another major issue. Natural resources are dwindling. Energy-saving is the order of the day and the models have to change. If we are to achieve that, engineers have an important part to play.
Last but not least, the internationalisation of trade is also having a deep impact on the engineering profession.
Techniques and reasoning…
These days, engineers bear the responsibility for innovating and implementing technologies. Serving industry, they build structures and develop models… Their main value lies in their knowledge and their ability to put technical solutions in place.
…plus leadership and a spirit of enterprise
New qualities have to be added to engineers’ skills range. They are expected to be leaders, entrepreneurs, inventors or creators. A sense of the aesthetic is also required. Today’s engineers are getting back to the roots of their trade.
They are having to become good listeners, ready to call themselves into question. If necessary, they must be capable of revisiting the scientific models behind their reasoning, opening up to other hypotheses that enable them to find innovative solutions to current technical problems.
Engineers must also be able to convince without compelling, to influence without imposing, so as to network in the “manufacturing lab” spirit.
Tackling the shortage of engineers
In an age of start-up founders, the younger generation are tending to lose interest in scientific professions, and the schools of engineering in most European countries have seen enrolments fall. The upshot is a shortage of engineers on the labour market.
Complete rethink of training courses
Engineering schools must obviously reshape their courses to encompass the managerial side as well as the human dimension of an engineer’s role: in-house relationships, public speaking, client contacts etc. A certain minimum of training in management and social sciences has become a necessity.
The five characteristics of a modern engineer
According to some observers, the main indispensible characteristics of a modern-day engineer are expertise, ingenuity, agility, responsibility and influence. If they develop these qualities, engineers can shape the future by challenging the present.
Syngenia is playing its part by investing in the acquisition of non-technical skills by its staff, so that they can tackle these new issues. That is a must if they are to maintain their performance levels within a profession that is more and more demanding and constantly evolving.