5 Communications Skills Needed to Advance an Engineering…

5 Communications Skills Needed to Advance an Engineering…

Aug 11, 2016

“5 Communications Skills Needed to Advance an Engineering Career” By Mitch Maiman, Design News There was a time when engineers could work within companies and have minimal (or even bad) communication skills. While it is not necessarily important for engineers to become great public speakers or authors, it is increasingly important for them to possess effective communication skills. Here’s why. Engineers Need to Sell Engineers do not necessarily need to become card-carrying sales people, however, they do need to be able to sell their ideas. In interactive discussions with technical and management team members, or even with clients, it is necessary to present your story well. Doing so helps convince others of the merit of your “case,” and furthermore, builds confidence in your perspective as a professional. It is about relationship building; an engineer who can prepare and deliver a clear, concise, and believable message will come across well. Engineers Need to Capture User and Client Insights for Specification Documents Often in the aerospace and government contracting worlds, product requirements and needs are clearly, and often completely, defined in specifications and requirements documents. In the commercial, industrial, and consumer product worlds, this is often not the case, and engineers need to alone or with a diverse team, meet with prospective or current clients to extract the opportunities and needs. In such situations, engineers will often be communicating with others who do not share their perspective and technical competence. Extracting information requires good listening skills and the ability to translate what is heard into technical requirements. Engineers Need to Create Clear Written Content Engineers must craft clear, concise written documents, emails, and presentation materials to be effective at their jobs. Be careful not to use jargon and technical terminology, especially if the receiver of the information is not a technically oriented person. The engineer needs to step into the mindset of the audience/readers and write in a form that gets to the point quickly and speaks in a language that is readily understood by the audience. Engineers Need to Present in Front of Groups As an engineer advances, either in-line or into management, it will increasingly be important to them to be able to present...

New skills needed for new manufacturing technology

New skills needed for new manufacturing technology

Aug 4, 2015

By Jack Karsten and Darrell M. West, Brookings Advanced manufacturing has been identified by industry, government, and academia as an important driver of future economic growth in the U.S. According to its proponents, advanced manufacturing will provide high-paying jobs in regions that suffered from an exodus of traditional manufacturing jobs in the late 20th century. In order to fulfill this promise, the American workforce needs technical training in new manufacturing technologies. Ensuring that workforce skills keep pace with changing technology was one of the topics discussed at the 2015John Hazen White Forum on Public Policy, held at the Brookings Institution on July 9. Not your father’s manufacturing job For much of the 20th Century, manufacturing provided stable incomes for many workers with only a high school education. As these jobs have increasingly moved offshore in search of lower-wage labor, a new kind of manufacturing job must take their place. As industry adopts increasingly sophisticated technologies, new manufacturing jobs require more advanced skills than are available at the high school level. The current gap between worker skills and industry needs has resulted in an estimated two million vacant manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Filling these jobs requires new mechanisms for training workers in advanced manufacturing technologies. Advanced manufacturing covers a whole host of new industrial processes that improve upon traditional methods in quality, speed, and cost.High-performance computing harnesses substantial computing power to simulate real-world conditions in a virtual environment, allowing for relatively cheaper product testing. Additive manufacturing techniques like 3D printing provide a way to assemble customized products without having to reconfigure any machinery. Printing a product layer by layer also eliminates the waste that results from “subtractive” processes like milling, which sculpts a product from a larger block of material. These technologies dramatically reduce the time between designing and building a product, but mastering them requires specialized workforce training. Changing the discussion The panelists at the John White Forum spoke about the need for changing the public discussion of manufacturing and workforce preparation. Based on the history of dwindling manufacturing employment in the U.S., few parents want their children to train for manufacturing jobs. There is an insistence that every student attends a four-year college in spite of more flexible and...

7 Silent Project Killers

7 Silent Project Killers

Mar 25, 2015

By Jacob Beningo, EDN Network There are few things more discouraging to an engineer than pouring their heart, sweat and tears into a project only to have it fail. Failure can and does provide insights and growth experiences to those involved but the loss of time and effort can strike a devastating blow. There are many reasons that an embedded systems project can fail but there are seven key indicators that a project is dying a slow and silent death. #7 – Team turnover  Every company experiences employee or contractor turn over but excessive turnover of key personal can be a leading indicator that a project is doomed for failure. There are many reasons why turnover can have a detrimental effect on the project. First, it has a psychological effect on other team members that can decrease productivity. Second, the loss of key personal can result in historical and critical information being lost forever, which will slow down the development. Finally, replacing team members requires training and bringing up to speed a new team member. This can be a distraction that takes others away from development work, with the end result an increase in development costs and delivery timeframe. #6 – Go stop go syndrome There is an old saying that children are taught; “Don’t cry wolf.” The saying is a warning to not raise false alarms. This warning is ignored in projects that have a “GO! STOP! GO!” cycle. A manager, client, or some other entity pushes his team hard, claiming that the project has to get out the door by a certain date. Developers work weekends and put in extra effort. Then, just as quickly as the big push came the project is stopped dead in its tracks. Months later it is once again an emergency. “Hurry we have to ship by X!” And the same thing happens again. The repeated urgency followed by stopping the project that is later urgently started again has a psychological effect on the development team. The developers come to no longer believe that there is any urgency. In fact, they start to get the mindset that this project isn’t a serious project and that it will...

Lawmakers Hope To Designate, Fund ‘Manufacturing….

Lawmakers Hope To Designate, Fund ‘Manufacturing….

Mar 24, 2015

“Lawmakers Hope To Designate, Fund ‘Manufacturing Universities’ “ By Andy Szal, Manufacturing.net A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation that would provide 25 universities with federal funding to bolster programs relating to manufacturing. The bill would establish a program within the U.S. Commerce Department to select 25 “Manufacturing Universities.” Qualifying campuses would receive $20 million over four years to meet goals related to engineering, job training, manufacturing entrepreneurship and partnering with manufacturing companies. “We need our engineers to fill the growing demand for manufacturing workers and accelerate manufacturing’s growth,” said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware. “This bipartisan bill would help us meet that challenge.” “As a small business owner who worked in manufacturing for over 35 years, I understand the difficulty in training and finding qualified manufacturing workers,” added Rep. Chris Collins, R-New York. “To expand manufacturing in the United States, we need to have a workforce capable of filling these skilled jobs.” The director of the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology would oversee the program in coordination with the Energy and Defense departments and the National Science Foundation. Coons and Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, introduced similar legislation during the previous session of Congress, but the measure did not advance through the Senate’s education...

There Will Be a Factory Skills Shortage. Just Not Yet

By: Peter Coy, Bloomberg Businessweek A shortage of skilled manufacturing labor is on the way, says a new study by Boston Consulting Group. But, says the firm, it hasn’t arrived yet. Many factory managers claim they’re already suffering from a skills shortage. Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported a moderate to severe shortage of available qualified workers in a survey last year by Deloitte Consulting for the Manufacturing Institute, an affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers. BCG senior partner Harold Sirkin, co-author of the research and a Bloomberg Businessweek contributor, says manufacturers could solve most of their problems finding good people by offering higher pay and training new hires. He says there’s no reason that a skills shortage need derail the “manufacturing renaissance” BCG has been forecasting. The consulting group predicts that rising U.S. exports and “reshoring” could create 2.5 million to 5 million U.S. jobs in manufacturing and related services by decade’s end. The firm looked for places where manufacturing wages are rising rapidly as evidence that demand is exceeding supply. By that criterion, “only five of the nation’s 50 largest manufacturing centers (Baton Rouge, La., Charlotte, Miami, San Antonio, and Wichita) appear to have significant or severe skills gaps,” the study said. “Occupations in shortest supply are welders, machinists, and industrial machinery mechanics.” The U.S. does face a longer-term problem, Sirkin says, because millions of older factory workers are retiring in the next five to 10 years at the same time that production is increasing. There’s no quick fix for shortages of skilled trades such as welding, he says. The minimum training is two years. “You don’t want a welder who hasn’t been trained,” says Sirkin. “You could burn the building down.” On Oct. 15, General Electric is holding a press conference in New York at which Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt is scheduled to announce an initiative to find jobs in manufacturing for veterans. Sirkin says he applauds the...