At the beginning of October 2017, I attended my third in-person course in Paris. My specialization in my program is entrepreneurship and innovation. But during that course, the focus is the future of work, which includes pivotal changes in the near future for organizations. As a mechanical engineer, I was very interested in how the profession and work environment will change for mechanical engineers in the future. The findings during the course and the final assignment were enlightening for me and changed my mindset about how I would be interacting with the upcoming megatrends in an organization. In this blog post, I will discuss my findings during the course, how mechanical engineering is changing, and what challenges will be involved.
In The Future of Work, I gained insight into the upcoming megatrends. I now understand how rapidly expanding access to information and ideas will disrupt traditional product development processes and product lifecycle management in the mechanical engineering field.
This is especially true due to the physical smart and connectivity components, connected with virtual networks, which generate a ‘technology stack’. As a result, this ‘technology stack’ generates massive amounts of big data and offers an ever-expanding set of opportunities to firms within the megatrends thereby reshaping the value chain.
During the course, I discovered some implications related to access to data and ideas, which I can link directly to my daily business. In Switzerland's machinery industry, we must consider whether mechanical engineers, who connect continuously and gain access to data from any location, will be able to work remotely with ease and collaborate with global mechanical engineers in real time. Future innovative solutions can be developed by various self-employed or freelance mechanical engineers around the world. In this context, the role of a mechanical engineer’s organization will shift from being the controller of resources to a facilitator of ecosystems and a conduit for realizing individual aspirations.
Such findings help me to better coordinate leadership teams and understand their future needs. Learning about gaining access to functioning processes for cleaning, aggregating, capturing, and analyzing data will help because tomorrow’s leadership teams must rely on data, rather than their gut instinct, during the decision-making process.
All these upcoming megatrend influences mean that future mechanical engineers must acquire new skills. These include, but are not limited to: analytical skills, practical ingenuity, creativity, mastery of practical and theoretical business management approaches, and an understanding of the principles of leadership and effective communication through a cross-linked workplace.
Overall, this course has helped me to better understand upcoming conditions pertaining to megatrends, and given me a tentative plan to deal with these forces as a mechanical engineer. In addition, one important phrase has stuck with me since hearing it is, “The key to winning the race is not competing against machines but competing with machines” (as Brynjolfsson and McAfee described in the book Race against the machine). This is especially true looking at the profession of mechanical engineering, as computers continually win at repetitive tasks, but they lack creativity and intuition.