Education does not finish after getting a diploma or degree or a professional engineer’s licence. A professional needs to polish his/her skills throughout the career. Professional development is an art and understanding obtained for both personal development and occupational advancement. It comprises of all types of coaching, technical training, seminars, workshops, conferences and other learning opportunities.
Talking about engineering profession, professional development has become a mandatory subject to keep a pace with the rapid technological developments and to comprehend the ongoing sophisticated inventions, which means life-long learning has become more and more important for engineers. A regulatory body like PEO (professional engineers Ontario) has introduced code of ethics which emphasizes that it is the duty of professional engineer to have “knowledge of developments in the area of professional engineering relevant to any services that are undertaken and competence in the performance of any professional engineering services that are undertaken”. O. Reg. 48/92.
Professional development can help to maintain the dignity and honor of a profession among the society along with ensuring the competence of a professional, as well as advancement in his/her career development. It is not a voluntary act to keep one’s competence up to the mark rather it is also a legal binding on engineers to be fully aware of the new techniques and concepts for analysis and design of various projects like bridges, skyscrapers, aeroplanes, ships, etc. in which human lives and property is involved. A continued professional development can help an engineer show competence for all the times to come during his professional life along with a commitment to his/her profession. It can also be a source to satisfy increased public demand for flawless engineering practices and accountability.
Professional development creates enthusiasm in professional engineer and keeps him committed to his profession. Each engineer should play his/her role to exchange technical/engineering knowledge and experience by providing opportunities for improvement of the skills of their associates and subordinates.
The role of employers in engineering profession is very vital. They should help in providing opportunities to their employee engineers to make them proficient in modern techniques by holding seminars/technical workshops. The researchers and university professors can be an asset in this regard.
Professional Development of Non Technical Skills
The importance of life-long learning related to technical information for engineers is well known and apparent. Technology is constantly improving. The benefits of new technologies on public safety and profitability provide more than enough incentive for government and corporations to encourage engineers to keep up to date.
But engineers should also be keen to improve their non technical skills. Most new graduates are unrefined in skills such as negotiation, business, and management. Development of these skills are not part of most undergraduate engineering programs. However, they become equally, if not more important, than technical skills in the workplace. These, along with good communication and interpersonal skills will be the determining factors in career advancement.
Negotiation is an important skill to have as an engineer in the workplace. Engineers are often involved in the negotiation of contracts with suppliers and customers. Learning negotiation tactics and concepts such as win-win bargaining can ensure feasible and profitable contract terms for both sides.
Business and management skills are important to an engineer’s career advancement. Career advancement for engineers usually means moving into a management role. These roles involve more than just managing the work of junior engineers. It can mean responsibility for tracking large budgets, making hiring decisions, and resolving conflicts in the workplace. At this point in an engineer’s career, technical skills are rarely utilized.