Engineering has always been a profession of great diversity with a variety of fields to enter into.
While the primary duty of analyzing, developing and evaluating large-scale, complex systems hasn’t really changed, how this is carried out has changed in dramatic fashion in the last decade thanks to technology.
Engineers used to design and draft blueprints, implement products and systems in the field and manage projects manually. Without the help of high-performance computers and IT facility tools, finding the right data for a given project meant ploughing through endless articles and technical documents. Decisions were often made in isolation with very little collaboration with colleagues.
The advent of mobile devices and high-speed internet has completely reshaped the way engineers work today. They now have instant access to an overwhelming amount of information at their fingertips and can collaborate with colleagues across various locations simultaneously, without having to be on-site thanks to cloud-based technology.
The essential hard skills of the modern-day engineer
Just as technology evolves, so too must the engineer. The key skills required in the digital age can be classified into three main categories:
- Basic information technology knowledge
- Ability to use and interact with computers and smart machines like tablets and robots
- Understanding machine-to-machine communication, IT security and data protection
Ability to work with data
- Ability to process and analyse data and information obtained from machines
- Understanding visual data output and then making the right decisions
- Basic statistical knowledge
- Interdisciplinary and general knowledge about technology
- Specialised knowledge about manufacturing activities and processes in place
- Technical know-how of machines to carry out maintenance-related activities
The essential soft skills
To be able to successfully face the complexities of a changing environment in the digital age, it takes a variety of important soft skills. I’ve identified the three most important ones needed especially in the transition phase of industry 4.0.
- Adaptability: Adaptability refers to how easily you can adjust to change. Adaptability allows you to flourish amidst chaos and find openings in situations where others only see closure. Inflexibility not only precludes personal growth but also that of your followers and peers.
- Decision-making: Industry 4.0 means everyone must be able to participate in making decisions on the viability of any proposed innovation-driven change. Everyone in the decision-making circle will need cross-departmental access to all relevant data and a consolidated view of all relationships and consequences.
- Working in a team: Projects are getting more and more complex and will require more collaboration between team members.
Advice for people interested in a career in STEM/engineering
Focus on the things that technology can’t do. Machines can’t read people’s emotions and react accordingly or think creatively. These will become highly valuable skills.
As robots and artificial intelligence become smarter, future engineers will also need to be able to manage and work side by side with them.
According to the Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum, the top 10 skills that future professionals will need are:
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking
- People management
- Coordinating with others
- Emotional intelligence
- Judgment and decision-making
- Service orientation
- Cognitive flexibility
How Siemens helps employees stay on top of digital trends
Having the right people with the right skills in the right places at the right time is essential to the success of Siemens as a company. The Siemens Global Learning Campus (SGLC) is a continuing education program that offers training to employees around the globe. Its courses help people develop personal skills, support managers in team development, and assist those in charge of key operations to think strategically and change procedures and processes.
The core curriculum addresses challenges in diverse parts of our business, including sales, project management, procurement, development, production, service, product management and quality management.
New learning techniques (such as ‘hackathons’, ‘business impulse workshops’ and ‘digital business labs’) contribute to the company’s digital transformation. Employees can also access digital education materials through the new ‘Digitalization Learning World’ online platform.
What makes Siemens a great place for engineers
Siemens has an ownership culture that allows all its employees to think openly and approach technical and business challenges with flexible and innovative solutions. Opportunities are always there to learn about the latest trends and technologies in the industry as well as for career development.
If you’re looking to join an organisation at the forefront of engineering, visit the careers page at Siemens.