Re-Engineering the Engineer

by Cause Consulting

Editor’s Note: Cross-posted from AMD blog,Re-engineering the Engineer,” June 14, 2012 by Allyson Peerman.http://causeconsulting.com/2012/06/re-engineering-engineer/

As a global technology company, AMD relies heavily on engineers who are leaders and innovators to work on some of the world’s most complex technological products.  Simply put, engineers are our lifeblood, and STEM learning is their oxygen. The graduates we hire from engineering schools around the world unquestionably must be technically proficient. But, given the complex global environment in which they work, they also need to be good communicators, critical thinkers, creative problem solvers, and excellent project managers.  Add in cultural literacy, so they can work across geographies, time zones, and languages, and that’s a very tall order. In short, we need our engineers to be more well-rounded than we have historically educated them to be.

This was one of the predominant themes addressed from a wide range of perspectives at the 119th American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference in San Antonio this past week.

It was reaffirming to engage with academic leaders who are training students via creative, multidisciplinary approaches in order to yield graduates with both technical depth and a broad world view. Corporate participants were similarly aligned around maintaining a robust pipeline of engineering talent in order to help solve the most profound social and technological challenges of our time.

AMD’s participation in the conference reflects our evolving perspective on the engineering education lifespan. At the pre-conference ASEE K-12 Workshop on Engineering Education, our AMD Changing the Game partners from E-line Media led a workshop for middle and high school educators about engaging students in digital game creation as a means to excite kids about STEM learning and careers.

At the post-secondary level, the next critical stage of STEM engagement, we’ve focused on the need to evolve engineering education to produce more globally-aware engineers with the hard and soft skills required to navigate the global environment. Through our AMD NextGen Engineer initiative, we’ve met and collaborated with some of the leading colleges and universities at the groundswell of this movement. A recently-released video provides more details on our AMD NextGen Engineer initiative.

As part of this effort, AMD has invested in the Initiative for Innovation in Engineering Education (I2E2) at Olin College. As an “incubator” for evolving how engineers are prepared to tackle today’s global challenges, I2E2 is testing and pollinating new models for engineering education in partnership with academic institutions around the globe. At the ASEE Inaugural International Forum, I had the honor of introducing Dr. Vincent Manno, Provost and Dean of Faculty and Professor of Engineering at Olin College. Dr. Manno spoke about Olin’s leadership work in shifting the paradigm and pedagogy for preparing engineers to innovate and lead for global impact.

I was also honored to participate as a panelist for the Main PlenaryKeeping it Real: Preparing Students for Industrial Practice. Panelists included Dr. Tom Byers, Bing University Fellow for Undergraduate Education, Stanford University; Dr. Niaz Latif, Dean, Purdue University; Dr. Keith H. Moo-Young P.E., Dean, California State University; Corlis Murray, Vice President, Global Engineering Services, Abbott Laboratories; Dr. Christine Ortiz, Graduate Dean, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Michael Richey, Ph.D., Associate Technical Fellow, Boeing.

With varying emphasis, each panelist addressed the need to prepare young engineers as “lifelong learners” who can keep pace with innovation. The academic leaders represented on this panel, and others I spoke with during the conference, articulated a slightly different approach to an oft-heard theme of “bridging the gap” between industry and academia.

Clearly a two-way street, this means ensuring that academia is teaching to the needs of industry, and that industry is willing to engage students in rich real-world learning experiences – beyond internships and co-ops – that allow them to apply their learnings. For AMD, bridging the gap also means applying academic best practices to the on-going development of our own global engineers, thus representing a third phase of “lifelong learning.”

This thinking has led us to greatly revamp the on-going development of our technical managers and staff through theAMD Technical Staff Development program. Last summer, members from our technical development team spent a week at Olin College applying the school’s framework to our new technical manager and staff development curricula. Both were subsequently piloted at AMD sites in China, India and the US.

If we are to improve and sustain vibrant societies around the globe, we must have enough engineers, but also the right engineers to tackle the global challenges we face. That requires a multi-pronged approach that binds academia and industry together and takes a holistic account of what skills are needed, who needs them, and how we can add value to their education at every stage.

Allyson Peerman is Corporate Vice President of Public Affairs at AMD and President of the AMD Foundation. Her postings are her own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and, unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

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