On a chilly winter’s day on the 23rd of July, the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) hosted the ‘Hot Trends in Engineering, Job Prospects & Troubleshooting Tips’ seminar in Johannesburg.
EIT’s Dean of Engineering, Dr Steve Mackay, visited South Africa to speak to an enthusiastic crowd of engineers, technologists, artisans, future students and general professionals about the trends occurring in the engineering industry as a consequence of the fourth industrial revolution.
These trends are altering engineering education and training. Prospective engineers must meet the challenge of staying ahead of the curve, and seasoned engineers must play catch-up with the changing industries.
Dr Mackay told the crowd, “you are here to find out how to skill yourself, improve yourself, and constantly refine yourself. Automation is going to accelerate. At the same time, the world is hyper-connected. We are doing everything on our phones these days. It is a quickly changing world.”
Dr Mackay delved into how the traditional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) was lacking a vital ‘E’ which is seemingly missing in engineering graduates around the world. When asking the crowd what the missing ‘E’ might be, suggestions included ‘Ethics,’ and ‘Environment’ which the Dean agreed with, but ultimately defined the other missing ‘E’ as Entrepreneurship.
“There is downward pressure on jobs in developing countries like South Africa,” he said.
“The skills required to prosper are changing, but students have to take initiative as well. There is nothing like experience. My father used to say that no matter how good a design engineer you are, you are nothing until the first electrician picks up a screwdriver on a project that you designed.”
Dr Mackay concluded by saying that universities and colleges are in a period of transformation because of the trends that have arisen due to technological advancement. Qualifications and curricula of the past seem to be slinking into obscurity. Institutions will have to ensure their students have both work experience and theoretical knowledge.
“In the next ten years, universities will be judged on how many of their graduates ended up getting jobs,” he said.
The EIT Ambassador of the Year 2018, Tatenda Nherera shared his experience at EIT with the crowd. Tatenda is an EIT graduate who obtained his 52684WA - Advanced Diploma in Electrical and Instrumentation (E&I) Engineering for Gas and Oil Facilities and Bachelor of Science (Industrial Automation) with EIT.
“In my course, I could remain employed and still study part-time,” he said.
“The studies gave me more meaningful skills, and help me to contribute to my community, where engineering skills like mine are very scarce.
“After finishing my studies, I went to the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) and asked them to examine my results from EIT. They granted me the title of Candidate Technician based on my results.”
To conclude the seminar, EIT’s International Education Manager for the regions of Africa and South America, David Gadjus, took to the podium to highlight the different pathways prospective engineers could take to unlock their engineering careers.
“We run our programs online, but we also have two campuses in Perth and Melbourne where you can relocate to, to come and study,” he said.
“Some of our qualifications are internationally endorsed, and covered by the Sydney Accord, the Washington Accord or the Dublin Accord.”
He also explained the many short courses that EIT delivers for engineering practitioners. These, Gadjus said, might expose technologists and engineers to new engineering industries, or further develop their skills in the industry they are employed in.
The seminar proved massively successful in summing up the general feeling among engineers in South Africa; new skills are required to meet the needs of the fourth industrial revolution as repetitive jobs are being phased out.
New engineering trends are creating new engineering jobs, and EIT is at the forefront of providing higher education for students in this ‘new world.’