Around me was a backdrop of pirate ships, crystal-clad dancers, and LED arrays lighting the glass facades of steel towers sparkling with the reflections of taxis, storefront signs, and digital camera flashes. One couldn’t have hoped for a more visually energetic scene, hued in reds, blues, purples, and incandescent yellows, to talk the depth and breadth of the influence of the engineering profession and the multifarious career paths within it that made such sensory spectacles possible. The reach of engineers was further emphasized by the ubiquitous proliferation of every day experiences touched by technological innovation. Even in an electric oasis like Las Vegas, a place typically centered more on probability than on deterministic resolve, engineering is here, everywhere.
This past July at the NSPE Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, thanks to a lot of hard work by the Professional Engineers in Private Practice Young Engineers Advisory Council (PEPP-YEAC) Chair Carlos Gittens and his team, I had the opportunity to present a new career development initiative at the NSPE Young Engineers Forum. With the support of the PEPP YE team and the University of Nevada–Las Vegas NSPE Student Chapter, I shared a preview of the Career Engineering Roadmap (CER), a program aimed at career strategies for emerging engineering professionals.
Conceived first as an idea within the walls of my home NSPE section, the Connecticut Society of Professional Engineers, the foundational ideas of the CER were further developed through phone calls to NSPE offices in Alexandria, Virginia, while I was traveling throughout China and Korea on business, and then reimagined and redesigned during my tenure as chair of the Professional Engineers in Industry’s Young Engineers Advisory Council. Now over two years later, and after much input from the PEI executive board, I couldn’t be more excited to formally launch the first phase of the Career Engineering Roadmap later this month in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins University.
The Career Engineering Roadmap aims to promote the vast possibilities of career development opportunities for those with an engineering background. Designed as a 90-minute seminar targeted at junior and senior engineering undergraduates and emerging young engineering professionals, the program aims to map out the career choices of emerging engineers using three key principles:
- CER Principle 1- Engineering is more than a degree. Engineering is a way of thinking.
- CER Principle 2– Engineering is a foundational skill-set, providing multifaceted career choices, including those outside the realm of traditional engineering disciplines.
- CER Principle 3– Engineering is a career path that can be planned and strategized. Individuals with engineering skills are empowered with the capability and the agility to adapt to the changing needs of the contemporary global economy.
In a recent news conference, U.S. Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu declared, “We need engineers. We need scientists. This is going to be at the heart of how the United States is going to remain competitive.”
This will be true not just for the engineering students entering engineering careers, but also for any individuals progressing through their early to mid-stage careers using technical and scientific thought processes as engines of innovation, locally and internationally. The objective of the Career Engineering Roadmap is to provide emerging engineers with a strategic framework within which such mechanisms can be honed.
The strategic importance of a country’s competitiveness—economic, technological or otherwise—begins with the aggregate competitiveness of its individuals. The ubiquity of the profession’s reach has already established the destinations to be ventured toward; the Career Engineering Roadmap strives to be the compass rose for that direction setting therein, from Alexandria to Seoul, from to Shanghai to Las Vegas and beyond.
Stay tuned for an NSPE Web seminar on this subject in the spring.
Published November 17, 2011 by Austin Lin
Filed under: career development,
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of and should not be attributable to the National Society of Professional Engineers.