Global competitiveness is unforgiving, and if not sharpened regularly, an engineer's skills can obsolesce quickly. At this time of rapid change and shifting corporate strategies, complacency can easily threaten an engineering career.
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The first in a two-part series, Staying Sharp—Vol. 1: Tips for Staying Sharp Inside Your Company, provides more than a dozen proven strategies engineers can easily put to work on the job. In this award-winning IEEE-USA eBook, veteran engineering professional and educator, Harry T. Roman, shares his thoughts about how engineers can enhance and hone their non-technical skills for career success.
Volume 1 is filled with tips about mentoring, starting project teams, working with schools and continuing education, among many other topics. In one section, Roman encourages readers to “do their R&D…a process that converts uncertainty into risk,” for many companies. But he recommends getting involved with it, explaining that if you know the risk associated with a technological path, you can make educated investments for the future.
Roman also suggests joining or starting a speakers’ bureau in your company, because it opens many doors to career opportunities. “Public speaking skills are absolutely essential for any professional,” he writes, “Being able to ‘think on your feet,’ and remain calm and clear-headed when fielding questions, makes a big difference between being confident—and being great.” He adds that speaking competently in an open forum also provides another bonus: your organizational and writing skills will naturally improve as well.”
Another big area that Roman highly touts in Volume 1 is working with schools. He says that working with teachers and students is some of the most rewarding work he has ever done. “The connection back to the world of work is a powerful paradigm for teaching young minds about what will be expected of them,” he muses, “It is especially important today, as the educational community implements the STEM curricula through its new standards for education."
Roman also recommends promoting creativity throughout one’s career. He explains that company employees must make the most of creative thinking—to identify potentially promising new ideas. He points to a transformational course he took, in which the presenter urged everyone to “become corporate iconoclasts; to become rebels within our corporations; to push the envelope, almost to the tearing point, with our imaginations and technological thinking; to coax management to see the possibilities.” Roman espouses that creativity knows no boundaries—and good ideas can flow from many sources within a corporation.
“And make sure you include continuing education opportunities for growth in your career goals every year,” Roman advises, “Continuing education is one of the keys to a robust engineering career.”
Roman says that he is where he is today from decades of mentoring, and the advice his IEEE colleagues gave him over many years of IEEE membership. “Never forget that during your “sharpening” process, the soft skills are just as important as the hard skills…. and that includes the people you lead and manage.”
Now through 15 March, IEEE members can get a free download of this award-winning IEEE-USA eBook, by going to: http://shop.ieeeusa.org/usashop/product/careers/125999. Log in with your IEEE Web account, add the book to your cart, and use promo code FEBFREE17 at checkout.
Georgia C. Stelluto is IEEE-USA’s Publishing Manager, and Manager/Editor of IEEE-USA eBooks.