Presentation Review – The Next Generation Engineer

The Next Generation Engineer was a panel discussion last night at the Austin Forum on Science, Technology & Society.It offered three perspectives:

  • Corporate Point of View by Allyson Peerman, Global VP for Public Affairs for AMD.
  • Academic Point of View by Michael Webber, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Current Product of the Educational System by Melissa Lott, graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin.

Here are the key points I took away from each panel member:

  • Allyson (Corporate) – The engineers of today have the necessary technical skills, but we need to improve the multidisciplinary skills and experiences in order to collaborate, lead and innovate. The challenges that AMD has had to overcome include managing geographic differences, communication challenges, culture differences, and keeping the pace of innovation sustainable.
  • Michael (Academic) – The problems engineers have to solve extend beyond engineering. Because the engineering curriculum is so heavy, this requires a lot of informal learning. Where the students end up working is a way to measure the success of a program. Graduate students should try to present their research at two or three conferences (one being international) to expand their experiences.
  • Melissa (Student) – Seek out “adventures” during downtime between school semesters, such as volunteering for a cause that you believe in. See value in a company that lets you spend a percent of your time volunteering or working on a project you want.

In the question and answer period with the audience, a common theme was educating kids in K-12 about engineering, especially to push interest in girls and minorities. Engineering companies are getting the talent they need, but there is definitely a shortage of women and minorities in the field.


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About Matthew Peterworth

I currently work as a Technology Specialist at Henderson Engineers in Kansas City – a Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing (MEP) design firm. Prior to that I was a Project Manager for Information Technology Services (ITS), the central IT department at the University of Texas at Austin. As of July 2008 I am a Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) through BICSI. And as of June 2011 I am a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in the great state of Texas. Please follow me on Twitter @mpeterworth.

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