This is a guest blog by Nick Heim, P.E.
In the continuously changing realm of technology, the convergence of traditional methodologies with cutting-edge technologies has sparked a paradigm shift, necessitating a recalibration of essential skills engineers need to thrive.
Today, I would like to highlight some of the themes discussed in Episode #030 of the AEC Engineering and Technology Podcast, where Markus Weidner, CIO at Pennoni, and I discussed the top skills engineers need to succeed in the age of technology.
If you find this summary interesting, check out the full-length episode!
Integration of Engineering and Technology:
- The merging of engineering with digital tools has created advanced operational systems that view infrastructures as interconnected living systems, akin to how the healthcare industry approaches human wellness.
- This integration enables proactive maintenance and improved management of asset lifecycles through technologies such as modeling, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
Technological Advancements in Construction:
- Construction processes have changed with the use of smart site optimization software.
- It helps to balance sites accurately and incorporates advanced technologies like reductive 3D printing and sophisticated location systems.
- This shows how digital optimization is now a crucial part of the entire supply chain, highlighting the importance of systems engineering in building interconnected systems.
Challenges in Integrating Technology:
- One of the main challenges is integrating technology, as engineers often don’t see themselves as integrators.
- Instead, engineers are accustomed to dealing with specific subjects, leading to a gap between traditional and modern engineering understanding.
- This highlights the urgent need for engineering programs to quickly adapt and include a broader understanding of various technology systems to meet the demands of contemporary engineering practices.
AI Applications and Ethical Considerations:
- AI, while widely discussed in the past year, has been in development for some time, with recent advances showcasing its maturity.
- Its practical applications, like aiding in pavement evaluation through video analysis and enhancing data interpretation, highlight its potential to accelerate project workflows (similar to how e-bikes expedite deliveries for drivers).
- This example, and others like it, emphasize its role as a productivity accelerator for engineers.
- As AI continues to evolve, it is vital to approach its usage with caution, recognizing that while it can be a powerful tool, it is still in the developmental stage and should not replace human expertise in engineering.
- Maintaining accountability and ensuring that AI-generated information is appropriately sourced and verified is critical to upholding ethical standards, preventing potential issues such as plagiarism and prioritizing transparency in the engineering process.
Communication Skills and Human-Centric Perspectives:
- In an evolving engineering landscape, effective communication skills are becoming as crucial as technical expertise.
- This is especially true with the growing use of industrialized and prefabricated construction methods.
- Engineers need to hone their ability to convey complex ideas clearly to clients and stakeholders, addressing social concerns and facilitating smoother project approvals and implementation.
- Remain aware of the evolving technological landscape and recognize the importance of effective communication and human-centric perspectives in implementing technology changes within the organization.
- Understanding the shifting nature of technology and its compartmentalization, along with prioritizing human needs, is crucial for those aspiring to take up leadership roles in the technology domain.
- Building consensus among stakeholders and addressing real-world requirements are essential for successful technological initiatives, just as they are for engineering projects.
About the Author Nick Heim, P.E.
Nick Heim, P.E., is a civil engineer with six years of experience in the repair and restoration of existing structures. Nick is also the host of the AEC Engineering and Technology Podcast (“AECTECH”) and brings valuable insights and expertise to listeners worldwide.
Nick’s interests lie at the intersection between the built world and technology, and he can be found looking for the ever-changing answer to the question, “How can we do this better?” He can be found on LinkedIn, producing content about use of technologies in his civil engineering career and small business.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share about the top skills engineers need to succeed in the age of technology.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success