on May 17th, 2011

If you are a true engineering professional, never let your age be of the slightest interest to you. It is completely irrelevant. You only need to look at the vast army of older highly experienced engineering professionals adding enormous value to seek inspiration.

Physically fit and lean, Vernon is one of our ‘youngest’ engineering instructors (but aged 68yo), constantly studying new technologies and presenting a superb course on Gas Turbines. In this respect, he has solid experience ranging from the control systems components to maintenance of the turbine blades. He also holds a commercial pilot’s licence and regularly takes clients and friends to exotic locations such as the Bungle Bungles (what a name !) mountain ranges. He has recently ‘acquired’ another language – German – and this year he is spending four months in Germany where he will be presenting for us on Gas Turbines through web and video conferencing from a schloss overlooking the Rhine (in English). So although Vernon is physically 68 years old, he is going on late twenties if you look at the pace of his life.

Dumped and on the beach of despair
I must confess somewhat sadly that I do constantly meet a range of tradesmen, technicians, technologists and engineers who are washed up job-wise. Many of them have been bruised into submission after too many job knockbacks to care much, except to complain that they are now over the hill and unemployable. The recession has impacted on their employment prospects and many of them find it increasingly difficult to re-enter the workforce if they have been ‘downsized’ out of a company. What to do about it…

I am convinced that being old is a state of mind. As the coach and author, Elizabeth Lions, remarked: What you think about, you bring about. So don’t fall into this horrible vortex, which is very difficult to emerge from.

Keep your engineering blade sharp
As most of you older hands probably know – ensure you never feel old by exercising both physically and mentally on a daily basis. Keep physically healthy with good food, exercise and rest. Keep yourself sharp career wise. Stretch yourself mentally every day and learn new things relating to your career and new technologies you may be able to harness. Constantly experiment and question what you are doing and how you are doing it. Share your knowledge and experience freely with the younger ones in the engineering workforce. But keep your engineering skill and knowledge blade as sharp as ever. Let’s face it – life in engineering is not a doddle through the park. And through the battering and bruises and sporadic bright spots in our careers, we do learn a helluva lot.

The older engineering professionals are in serious demand
I am absolutely convinced that with the rapid growth in rebuilding of our infrastructure and the shortage of real practical engineering skills that there is a growing shortage of professionals. So any engineering professional who is still sharp and willing has an enjoyable job waiting for them. On whatever basis they want to work. They can be like many friends of mine who have moved into hobby pursuits ranging from engineering web sites to working on designing new systems which are aligned with their interests rather than financially immediately directly rewarding. You are likely be exercising your engineering skills so make sure you keep current and sharp. This means actively learning new technologies and adapting to the new approaches followed by industry today.

Remember that as we get older, we generally increase in knowledge and experience and wisdom… as Joseph Joubert says: Old age deprives the intelligent man only of qualities useless to wisdom.

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