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Continuous Education For Engineers
Continuous education is essential for engineers, but many companies don’t recognize the value or they are unwilling to provide the necessary resources.

This should be a line of questioning before every new hire makes the decision about where they want to work, because it not only affects their future career, but also impacts the value they can provide to that company during the course of their employment.

“Everybody owns their own career,” says Bonnie Willoughby, technical education thought leader at Siemens EDA. “Everybody is responsible for coming up to speed on industry advances. Everyone should work with a mentor or a manager to make sure that it is an environment where learning can happen.”

Learning needs a structure. “In many organizations, management assumes the engineer could solve any problem with a stack of manuals and a little time,” says Nancy Henson, principal practice manager for National Instruments. “Other misconceptions include expecting vendor training to be sufficient, or presuming that engineers prefer working in silos. After decades of neglecting learning and letting training devolve to an after-thought, many companies now seek guidance on training engineers.”

There are benefits for all involved. “An effective engineering training program could increase engineering efficiency by at least 20%.”

In some companies, this is part of the culture. “Continuing education is important for us, and that should not be a surprise given our ties to École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL),” says Amin Shokrollahi, founder and CEO of Kandou. “In fact, it’s part of our corporate culture.”

Others see education as being a part of the products they provide. “The future of work is really about the future of talent,” says Shivananda R Koteshwar, group director at Synopsys. “Training helps our users stay ahead of the curve with expert-led courses and allows users to strengthen their skills. The users also provide valuable input via unique use cases, which serve to further R&D cycles for the product.”

That feedback loop can be even more pronounced for some companies. “Education of the market is virtuous,” says Isabelle Geday, general manager of Arteris IP deployment. “Having this position understood by potential customers is a very good start for a relationship. They tend to trust us, not only from a technical point of view, but from a company point of view. When they perceive that we want them to be smarter — to be able to gain ownership of the standard, and of the solutions that come with the standard — that’s something that is really good for our image. It’s beneficial for them, and it’s also beneficial for us.”

Some people take it on as a personal responsibility. “Twice in my career, I’ve been a visiting lecturer or professor at universities,” says Simon Davidmann, founder and CEO of Imperas Software. “The role is to provide interesting information about the state of the art of current technology. I try to help undergraduates understand the area of electronic design, which isn’t really covered much in universities. I believe you have to move people forward and educate them.”

Where should one turn to get the necessary education? “Continuous education is an important part of every engineering job,” says Ashish Darbari, CEO of Axiomise. “It can come from a variety of sources, including tool vendors, independent training houses and consultants, internal experts, or the Internet.”

Making that selection can be important. “Selecting the best source of training can be a complex decision, and the best option depends on the type of content and the needs of the project team,” says Matt Rushton, training manager for partner enablement at Arm. “Trusted content direct from a provider is the obvious approach — those who are directly involved in the creation and the support of the products in question sharing their vast amounts of knowledge and expertise. However, using an approved training partner or consultant has its merits too, offering a broader and perhaps more agnostic outlook with a diverse industry perspective. Training in whichever form is critical, saving time, effort and money by avoiding costly design mistakes.”

The source may change, depending on the type of training required. “Some areas, such as training associated with language and tools, can be learned using training programs and material available online,” says Olivera Stojanovic, business development and project manager for VTool. “Other skills, such as debug, can only be gained by hands-on experience, and can be enriched by learning from more senior engineers.”

And training is evolving. “The information and the technology are changing at the speed of light,” says Siemens’ Willoughby. “If you had asked me 10 years ago how it is possible for engineers to be up to date with what’s happening, maybe you would get a very different answer. The industry trend with education has changed significantly.”

Read more of this article, Continuous Education For Engineers here.