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Engineers in the time of Industry 4.0

Engineers have been at the forefront of all industrial revolutions. From using steam power, electric power, IT and now the potential of digital, they have been able to streamline the daily routine. However, the world has changed since the first industrial revolution. Businesses have taken magnificent strides, away from their origins, only to evolve and reach greater heights. It is difficult to imagine that Netflix started as a movie rental service and Amazon was just an online marketplace for varied goods. In such a scenario, is subject knowledge and engineering skills enough for engineers? The answer is no. Engineers are all about the technicalities of things. The course of engineering does not give students a 101 of how the businesses which will hire them actually work as a whole.

Nowadays Engineering students definitely need to have the right domain knowledge but that does not give them an edge over their peers who also has the same expertise. Companies are preferring engineers with business knowledge and project management skills to ensure smooth operations and better efficiencies. If candidates have global exposure in terms of working on international internship projects or competitions, that’s a significant advantage too.

With their strengths of problem-solving, which are very preliminary in case of fresh Engineering Graduates the willingness to fill the gaps of expectations vs. reality, makes it possible for the functional application of Engineering Knowledge in the industry. The practical application of Engineering knowledge is what the industries need for the continuous growth of business and improved operating. Young Engineers can take up small projects for trial and error of the technical concepts they learnt, not everything can be tried before an actual job nor can be expected from the companies in the form of training.

What Corporates are looking for, besides academic knowledge?

  1. The understanding of accounting, finance, sales and marketing can help Engineers know what support departments contribute to the development of business and appreciate their efforts.

  2. Technical proficiency helps Engineers to perform tasks using the knowledge they have acquired but to apply this know-how in the business world, the application of the same at different levels and in different areas requires skills.

  3. For exceptional performance, one needs to be attuned with the customer’s, stakeholders and management’s perspective and business needs.

  4. On-job trainings are becoming too expensive for the businesses and the cut-throat competition is reducing their capacity to spoon feed and handhold the new recruits making ready to work candidate as the first preference of corporates.

  5. Areas that these skills open up are Business Development by creating an understanding of

    1. Costs of processes currently prevailing in the organization.

    2. Costs of recruitment, training and retention of employees (including yourself)/workers.

Being an engineer in today’s day and age means that one has to not only specialise in his/her area of interest but also have an understanding of the related fields. One cannot be an automobile engineer and develop a car like ‘MG Hector-The Internet Car’ without knowing anything about technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT). Today, engineers are solving problems alongside designers and architects by using computational design, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, data analytics and Blockchain.

Every sector needs engineering minds. Every industry is transforming due to technology breakthroughs that are in varying stages of adoption. Therefore, the question is not whether there will be enough jobs for engineers but what are engineering aspirants doing to earn one? The need of the hour is upgrading and reskilling to meet the changing expectations of evolving job profiles. The competition is intense. Going above and beyond in increasing the knowledge portfolio is what will help aspiring engineers gain a competitive edge.

The corporate world is willing to welcome the newer ideas and inventions form the Engineers thus the students need to focus on current society and industry requirements and take new methods of knowledge as well as skill acquisition. The ideal Engineer of today is the one who carries good academic/theoretical knowledge, technical know and business acumen to apply it in industry, knowledge of corporates and its underlying functions and soft skills to play team roles. Along with all this, they need to create the discipline to achieve the targets and managing their performance, which is extremely important for shaping their career and equally crucial for corporates.


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