DiscoverE is an organization providing engineering programs for individuals around the globe focusing on the intersection of engineering and corporate social responsibility, public affairs, and talent acquisition issues. Their program audiences range from pre-k to workforce and are designed to be “highly collaborative, representing the breadth of engineering; compelling yet simple to execute. This strategy enables organizational partners, volunteers, and educators to effectively reach millions of students, parents, and young adults with the message that engineers work with smart, inspiring people to invent, design, and create things that matter.” (DiscoverE, 2022, para. 2)
To celebrate engineers worldwide, DiscoverE launched the first annual “Global Day of the Engineer” in 2016. In 2020, the United Nations Educational, Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) renamed the day “The World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development to highlight engineers’ achievements around the world and improve the public understanding of the importance of engineering and technology” (DiscoverE, 2022, para.2). Kettering University Online joins people across the globe on March 4th “to celebrate engineering and the contribution of the world’s engineers for a better, sustainable world” (UNESCO, 2022, para. 2).
This year the theme is “Build Back Wiser: Engineering the Future.” This theme appears to give a nod to President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” bill and “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law”; both of which are designed to be an investment in our future by creating jobs for the middle class through initiatives supporting climate change, and rebuilding the nations bridges, highways, ports, airports, rail, and roads (The White House, 2022).
Understanding Sustainable Development
Sustainable development is defined as an approach to development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (IISD, 2020, para 1). Mechanical, electrical, industrial, chemical, computer, and civil engineers play an incalculable role in modern life. They are faced with never-before-seen challenges and, in some cases, with life-or-death stakes. Here are ten challenges the engineering field must address and find solutions for:
- Reducing potential for a climate crisis caused by pollution emerging from engineering companies
- Improving energy efficiency
- Recruiting to fill the skills and staffing shortage
- Enhancing virtual reality
- Securing cyberspace
- Preventing nuclear terror
- Preparing for and containing pandemics
- Sustaining lands and oceans
- Ensuring access to clean water and sanitation
- Ensuring clean air
There are dozens more grave issues to list, and as you can imagine, these challenges require a certain type of person, skills, and motivation.
Celebrating the Engineer
Industrial, chemical, software, civil, electrical, and mechanical engineers each do very different things to change the way we live; collectively, they work to make our personal and professional lives more comfortable, safer, and easier to navigate. Despite their differences, it can be argued that are several, specific traits most engineers share; among them are curiosity, critical thinking abilities, a creative spirit, effective communication, and a collaborative spirit.
Many of the children who spend hours taking apart toys just to see how they work become engineers. Engineers are curious because they want to understand how and why things work as they do. For many engineers, once they have this understanding, their thinking morphs into how they can make it better, faster, and more efficient for less money!
2. Critical Thinking Abilities
Lucas (2014) explains that the task of critical thinking involves focused, organized thinking about such things as the logical relationship among ideas, the soundness of evidence, and the differences between fact and opinion. Engineers rely on their critical thinking abilities in every stage of their work, particularly when it comes to decision-making. Engineers, who can think critically, are able to handle deftly the wide variety of technical, administrative, policy, and interpersonal communication challenges arising within a day’s work or a project’s timeline.
3. A Creative Spirit
Many may think the phrase “creative spirit” and the word “engineer” are mutually exclusive – indeed, they are not. In addition to having technical experience, math and science expertise, and a high frustration tolerance, engineers also have a creative spirit. At first glance, it would seem, in a field structured by math and logic, there would be little to no room for a creative spirit. A closer look reveals how engineers use their creativity to change the way we live and work; this is because creativity often spurs innovation!
4. Effective Communication
An engineer, in any industry, can have brilliant ideas for a project but if they cannot articulate those ideas to management, teammates, clients, and other stakeholders, they are of little use. Effective engineers understand that clear and concise written, and verbal communication, are the keys to giving their ideas life and their team a competitive edge. Succinct communication becomes even more important in today’s global business context where language and meaning often become lost in translation. While it is true that many graduate programs in engineering place little focus on teaching students these skills, there are plenty of resources such as books, podcasts, and webinars of which engineers may avail themselves in order to improve their ability to effectively communicate.
5. A Collaborative Spirit
Engineers do not work in a vacuum; they work with other engineers, supply chain management, financial and project managers, and others from various business units. In stark contrast to the traditional development method of a product, concurrent engineering embraces both iteration and collaboration. Using cross-functional teams at the start of the development process, including representatives from manufacturing, hardware and software design, and marketing ensures integrated development aimed at satisfying a particular customer need. The more easily an engineer can collaborate with a team, the more likely the project will be successful.
Engineers who remain curious throughout their lives, while employing sharp critical thinking skills, combined with the ability to clearly communicate their ideas, in a creative and collaborative way, are those who will continue to change how people navigate their world.
Kettering University Online
If you identify with any of these skills or traits, have excellent technical skills, and have a desire to catapult your career, consider enrolling in one of Kettering University Online’s (KUO) graduate programs. Through academically rigorous discussion questions and assignments, learners can hone their critical thinking skills, learn to communicate more clearly and work with others in mutually satisfying and productive ways. KUO’s graduate programs support you to refine your communication skills, expand your ability to critically analyze situations and develop your ability to consider a wide range of viewpoints and solutions. We offer:
- MS Lean Manufacturing
- MS Operations Management
- MS Supply Chain Management
- MS Engineering Management
- MS Engineering: Electrical & Computer Engineering-Advanced Mobility
In addition to mastering academic content, learners are also challenged to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zone and learn how to facilitate a variety of managerial processes, communicate effectively with both their team and executive leadership, manage conflict, and demonstrate sound leadership. They also learn how to:
- be better prepared to navigate human resource issues
- look at the big picture and motivate others to do the same
- delegate appropriately
- be clear about the expectations they have of their team
- lead by example
- take risks
Whether you have a simple question or need more information to determine which KUO graduate program is best for you, visit Kettering University Online and reach out to one of our Admissions Advisors. Admissions Advisors can answer questions about admission and program requirements, tuition rates, and course descriptions. They can also help you complete the admissions application.
DiscoverE. (2022). About. https://discovere.org/about/
DiscoverE. (2022). World Engineering Day. https://discovere.org/engage/world-engineering-day/
Lucas, S. (2014). The art of public speaking. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Education
The White House (2022). President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. https://www.whitehouse.gov/bipartisan-infrastructure-law/
UNESCO. (2022). World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development. https://worldengineeringday.net/