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Austin Forum: The Next Generation Engineer

Tomorrow night, I will be joining a panel to discuss “The Next Generation Engineer” – and work being done by the AMD Foundation to help develop the engineers of the future. These engineers will work in interdisciplinary environments in order to optimize the solutions they develop to meet challenging world problems.

This topic speaks to my heart, perhaps because I am an engineer who works across boundaries – looking at economics, policy and culture when developing solutions to our energy and environmental challenges. It can be extended to all fields, not just engineering or the sciences.

Tomorrow night’s event – part of the Austin Forum – is free to the public and starts at 630pm (networking event at 545pm).

Here’s a blurb from an e-mail that was recently sent to the UT community –

In the next 10-20 years, engineers around the world will be motivated and challenged to solve some of the world’s most significant social, environmental, and technological challenges such as curing disease, improving global safety and security, conserving energy resources, and resolving the world’s food and water crises.

Undoubtedly, advances in these areas will become the frontier for innovation in which all technology companies will compete in the future. Are we preparing our next generation engineers to adequately tackle these massive challenges?

Noted experts* in the field of education believe tomorrow’s engineers may not be well prepared for the tasks ahead. They are concerned that today’s engineers-in-training are being taught to work in isolation to address technology problems without sufficient preparation for working in cross-disciplinary teams. In addition to strong STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills, the experts emphasize that engineers across the globe will need to be multi-lingual and possess strong communications and advocacy skills to sell their ideas effectively.

These engineers represent the technology industry’s future labor force. As such, we have a vested interest in ensuring that our educational institutions align classroom learning and real world situations by infusing what are known as 21st century skills — leadership, the ability to work collaboratively, strategic planning, communication proficiencies, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and innovative thinking, and a broad exposure to the world.

In this talk, you will learn about key practices that are making changes in STEM education, engineering programs, and private sector company hiring and training activities.

*Ken Kay, President, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills; Charles Vest, President Emeritus of MIT; John Brooks Slaughter, President and CEO, Council of Minorities on Engineering; Anne Mulcahy, former CEO and Chairwoman of Xerox Corporation; Steven Janak, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Albany Nanotech; Michael Webber, Professor of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin.

Tomorrow’s talk and panel are definitely not just for engineers. If you are in the Austin area, I would definitely encourage you to attend.

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