Industry-Speak: Next generation of engineers
With the start of 2019, we bring you a new feature at Visaya: Industry-Speak. This feature series will highlight the ideologies and viewpoints of what experts in instrumentation believe.
This time, the feature focuses on the opinions that the instrumentation industry stalwarts have for the next generation of engineers. It opines the opinions of industry experts of what they think the next generation of engineers should consider while stepping steep into a career in industrial automation
To read more on what does the industry think about the next generation of engineers, you can check out our #pAutomator series. If you’d like to contribute to the series, please do write to us.
So why talk to the next generation of engineers? Because the mentoring of this group of enthusiasts will generate strategies and drive to make the industry smarter, faster, and more efficient!
Instrumentation requires ever-evolving technology, and the market demands changes in workflow and knowledge-based skills to cope with shifts in customer behavior. To address some of these issues, we have views from the following industry leaders:
- Valério Galeazzi, Chief Commercial Officer of Novus Automation
- Matt Olin, CEO of Sierra Instruments
- Rajabahadur V. Arcot, Independent Industry Analyst
- Dr. Herman Straub, Application Manager with Endress+Hauser Conducta GmbH+Co.KG
- Bill WJ Steenberg, Control Systems and Instrumentation Engineer
- Peter Martin, Vice President & Fellow of Schneider Electric
- Eric Cosman, Principal Consultant at OIT Concepts LLC
Need for upgrades for the next generation engineers
With the digital era in place, engineers must stay current with the latest tools and technologies. This not only enhances their skills but also prepares them to address real-time challenges.
Valério believes that even sales professionals in this industry need a good technical background. “The professionals in the technical field should focus on connectivity and networks to gain good visibility,” he explains.
Given that industrial automation and technological advancement go hand in hand, Martin opines that industrial automation uses the highest levels of technology to solve the world’s biggest issues. “This should be very attractive to next-generation engineers. My advice to such engineers would be: If you want to make a difference and use the latest technologies to do so, consider a career in industrial automation!” Openness to learning and transformation is also vital.
According to Rajabahadur, the new automators will have exciting opportunities: “They will have to deal with constantly evolving technological developments and industry needs. Therefore, one needs to prepare oneself to take the path of continuous learning. You should be ready to acquire newer and newer skills if you plan on becoming an automation engineer.”
Meeting customer demand is as challenging as it is important. Dr. Straub reminds us to remember the people behind the applications: “The job of an instrumentation engineer is to develop instrumentation, but you should remember that this work should eventually make life better and easier.”
He further states, “Today, social skills are necessary: Don’t just sit in your office and work, put yourself in the customer’s shoes and start making decisions. As per my personal experience, I would say that selling is based on personal relationships. As such, you must be confident in your skill set and communicate well.”
According to Olin, most students want jobs in development or engineering. “They want to work in their field and implement what they have learned. But none of my students has ever mentioned sales and marketing as a career aspiration.”
He continues, “During my career to date, however, I have experienced how exciting, diverse and significant tasks in marketing are. You get to witness numerous technologies and cultures and learn something new every day. For engineers who enjoy communication, this certainly provides perspective.”
To succeed, you must stay aware of industry technology in general. According to Rajabahadur, those who prepare themselves to seize opportunities and overcome associated challenges will succeed.
“As automation professionals move up the career ladder, they must acquire competencies other than those that are related to technology. These might be in automation project-management, production process domain knowledge, executive management capabilities, information technology skills, and others.”
Bill adds that openness to diversity is also essential. “An instrumentation engineer’s challenge is to stay abreast of developments. Not only do they have a diversity of reliable and accurate measurement technology to draw from, but they also face a diversity of applications and processes. Because of this, the instrumentation engineer’s involvement is crucial so that process engineers can realize and accomplish desired process control strategies.”
Way forward for the next generation engineers
The industry will always focus on developments and upgrades. But we must get the right blend of traditional and modern applications. According to Martin, the younger generation has attributes that may contribute greatly.
“For example, millennials tend to be altruistic in their professional perspectives. They want to solve the big problems of the world. No profession can help solve the great problems the world faces more than a career in industrial automation and control,” he says.
“Controls help provide energy throughout the world, provide clean water, healthy food, housing and material goods. Thus, industrial automation could naturally attract millennials.” Cosman sees the most development in the “blurring of the lines” between disciplines such as automation, information technology, systems design, networks and security.
“This means that experts in these disciplines must be able to look beyond their immediate perspective and form effective collaborative relationships with those in other disciplines. A specific example of this is the need for collaboration between automation engineers, safety engineers, network designers and cybersecurity experts to design systems that are secure from attack and compromise,” he concludes.
Engineering students and new graduates should take a moment to consider these views. While they come from industry pros speaking from past experiences, they focus on where we need to go to make a better future. If you have comments or questions, please drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you!