Lifelong Learning For Engineers

Learning is a continuous process, and it should be treated as such for development continuity of the people’s professional career journey of their choices as well as the workplace improvements. In the modern world, companies are modifying their workplaces and workers often find themselves moved from one department to another. This creates a learning need to improve the individual’s technical skills. Lifelong learning has been as the subject of discussion as to whether it is relevant or just a waste of time and resources unnecessarily. Reading through “Lifelong Learning for Engineers: Riding the Whirlwind” article by Ernest Smerdon, one notices several reasons for lifelong learning among engineers in the modern world. But a closer look at the author’s argument shows that the message is not for engineers only but rather for the entire population of experts and workers in different sectors. Smerdon’s argument is confirmed in Adrienne Selko’s article, “Tailored Training Helps Swagelok Expand Operations.” Indeed, the strategic training sessions that Swagelok subjects its employees help in more than increasing the company’s growth. From the review of the stated articles, lifelong learning is a mandatory requirement that should be embraced in the modern world.

Based on Ernest Smerdon’s article, there are two major reasons why lifelong learning for engineers should be warmly received in the workplaces. Firstly, the technical skills of engineers tend to diminish with time, and there is a need for refreshing. Secondly, the job nature of engineers keeps on changing as personnel are called upon to accomplish different tasks after certain periods. Having a closer look at the Smerdon’s assertion, it is evident that the half-life of the technical skills of individual keeps on reducing and currently, it should be taking less than five years or two and a half for the technical skills of the electrical engineers and their software counterparts to reduce by half respectively (Smerdon). This, therefore, suggests that unless engineers keep on learning, they face the risk of losing a significant percentage of things that they know in their respective engineering fields (Smerdon). Ernest Smerdon also explains that the technology being incorporated in the modern engineering sectors is bringing out significant changes. And to keep pace with this technological paradigm shift, engineers have to continue best ways of executing their jobs as per the provisions of the job nature in the modern world. Smerdon also notes that the comfort zones that engineers used to enjoy some years back are buried by the new provisions in the workplaces. Currently, engineers only work for contracts to accomplish certain tasks and expected to move on after their complete the stated jobs. Therefore, they have to engage in continuous learning to stay relevant in the competitive engineering fields as asserted in the Smerdon’s article. From this article, it can be justified that the author presented the contemporary need in the engineering sector and the assertions are made clear to prove the need for engineers to keep on learning.

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Adrienne Selko article is talking about the significance of employees being exposed to not only internal but also external training with the aim of ensuring company growth. However, Ernest Smerdon noted that most companies do not provide platforms for engineers to engage in lifelong learning. But when Swagelok and other few companies accomplishing this need, the results cannot be only confined to company’s growth as individual learners also gain necessary job skills that will keep them competent enough in the modern dynamic nature of engineering fields. According to Selko, Swagelok provides its employees with training both on-site and off-site. Training sessions in workplaces are part of the learning and development programs which are significantly taking over the world. As depicted in the Smerdon’s article, Swagelok’s strategy provides its employees with the lifelong learning advantages. Precisely, these employees are ‘updating’ their skills to fit better in the industry and are out of the risk presented by half-life diminishing of their technical skills. According to the program in Swagelok, it is documented that, “We focus on rotating people to different job opportunities and encourage them to think about their career and how they can move to other parts of the company and grow” (Selko). This is a practical example of the argument made in the Smerdon’s article that in today’s’ world, employees are moved from one place of the work to another periodically despite being in the same company. Therefore, Adrienne Selko’s article can be said to be a piece of evidence that confirms the advantages of the lifelong learning presented in the Ernest Smerdon’s engineering-based article.

Reading closely the two articles reminds me of my previous learning experiences during my tow internships programs. While undertaking my undergraduate degree, I joined an engineering company as an intern. Since I had never been to the real-world practical field where I was required to apply the classroom theoretical assertions into practice, the first few days in this company were hard to execute duties as expected. I could make errors every hour and then. I feared being chased away, but my team leader remained patient with me as he helped me to fix things here and there. He assured me that the workshop that was coming in a fortnight time would be beneficial to me if I would take it seriously. But luckily enough, the on-site training program-that was being conducted after every six months in this company-reached. This program aimed at strengthening the employees’ skills. It was a three days workshop that speeded my transition from a theoretical course-oriented world to a practical engineering world. A year later I returned to the same company for my second internship and this time I played my roles without much difficulty. As a custom, the training session came along during my presence. I attended, learned and improved my working ability. I could now play numerous roles in the company after the second training. Currently, I have developed a habit of engaging with engineering books, articles or any other form of learning to help attain my pursuit of becoming competent in the career of my choice.

In general, lifelong learning is a mandatory requirement that should be embraced in the modern world. This goes beyond the changing dynamics in the workplaces as even the technical skills of the experts are reportedly undergoing reductions in the respective half-lives. In the Ernest Smerdon’s article, it is written that the rapid pace in which advancing technology is impacting the job nature in the modern society is rapid enough to move people away from their comfort zones. Engineers only work on contracts nowadays and have the obligation of keeping on improving on their skills as they diversify the precise parts they specialize in to accommodate the changing trend in the workplaces. People are often moved from one sector to another in the same company to work on different takes than before. These, together with other factors mentioned in the articles, are enough reasons to justify the need for lifelong learning in the modern day engineering and other sectors of the economy.

Work Cited

  1. Selko, Adrienne. ‘Tailored Training Helps Swagelok Expand Operations’. Industryweek, 2018, https://www.industryweek.com/companies-executives/tailored-training-helps-swagelok-expand-operations. Accessed 19 Feb 2019.
  2. Smerdom, Ernest. ‘Lifelong Learning For Engineers: Riding The Whirlwind’. NAE Website, 2008, https://www.nae.edu/19582/Bridge/LearningforEngineers/LifelongLearningforEngineersRidingtheWhirlwind.aspx.

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Lifelong Learning For Engineers. (2022, Feb 11). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/lifelong-learning-for-engineers/