The ability, willingness and desire to learn is an integral part of our professional identity as engineers — and enables us to deliver progress and solve problems in a changing world, write Engineers Australia National President Dr Nick Fleming and CEO Dr Bronwyn Evans.
Engineers not only need to keep up with technological progress but to develop their professional skills and personal capabilities more broadly.
Employers are looking for staff with communication and interpersonal skills, creativity, and a willingness to innovate, use their initiative and take responsibility.
Technical competence is assumed.
In many instances, the main obstacles we need to overcome are not so much technological or budgetary but human.
Engineers are working in a changing social context. There are growing expectations from investors, employees and the public when it comes to vital issues like climate change, safety, diversity and heritage. Anyone with an internet connection has the potential to influence. Public confidence is easily fractured.
In short, the goalposts of engineering success are moving, and it’s never been more important for engineers to keep learning.
Engineers Australia provides an array of professional development opportunities that can help underpin career success, and many of them are low cost or free.
Membership includes complimentary access to our magazines, technical journals, the world’s largest engineering database (Ei Compendex) and a growing video library, EA OnDemand, which now offers almost 900 recorded webinars.
In 2020–21, there were more than 230,000 registrations for Engineers Australia events, almost all of which were online-only or “hybrid”, with optional face-to-face attendance.
Engineers Australia also recognises many work activities, such as mentoring and learning new systems, as professional development, along with services to the engineering profession, for example volunteering, contributing to governmental submissions or sharing knowledge.
Books can also be valuable, low-cost sources of information, inspiration and influence. While often it is an accumulation of insights from multiple sources that are most instructive, stand-out titles on our personal shelves include:
- Nick: A Theory of Everything (2000) by Ken Wilber. This articulates a rich, cross-cultural and multidimensional framework that provides context for our work as engineers, and in human society more generally.
- Bronwyn: What Customers Want (2005) by Anthony Ulwick. This describes a process for “outcome-driven innovation” that provides breakthrough products and services that help customers reach the measurable results they’re aiming for in the jobs they’re trying to do.
In addition to supporting individual engineers in their career success, Engineers Australia seeks to facilitate the profession’s future impact more broadly.
We are working towards a so-called “T-shaped” profession: one in which engineers are socially relevant and engaged (the horizontal), as well as technically expert (the vertical).
That will enable us to boost the role of engineering in Australia’s future by better integrating technical perspectives and the voice of engineers in public policy, decisions and public debate — and, ultimately, to deliver great engineering for the benefit of society.