Inflection point

The current economic upswing is tangibly different for manufacturers, with some of the most dramatic effects not only being felt by low-skilled production personnel, but also by highly trained engineers. Though prospects are dim for low-skilled workers, engineers should realize the potential future for engineering is decidedly rosier, if you pay heed to marketplace signals.

01/01/2006


The current economic upswing is tangibly different for manufacturers, with some of the most dramatic effects not only being felt by low-skilled production personnel, but also by highly trained engineers. Though prospects are dim for low-skilled workers, engineers should realize the potential future for engineering is decidedly rosier, if you pay heed to marketplace signals.

"This is not a zero-sum world," say Martin Kenney, professor at the University of California Davis, and Rafiq Dossani, senior research scholar at the Asia/Pacific Research Center, Stanford University, in their paper "Offshoring and the Future of U.S. Engineering." "If India and China capture more of the engineering value chain, this does not mean the United States must lose. It does mean that we must understand the implications of changed circumstances and experiment with responses."

Kenney and Dossani say that future engineering careers will likely take one of two paths: coordination of projects having global workforces—meaning that engineers will take on more project management roles, or entrepreneurship—where engineer-entrepreneurs must understand how to design good products, and good business ventures. "By creating new value, increased entrepreneurship is the antithesis of the zero-sum game," say Kenney and Dossani.

In addition to keeping you informed about the processes and technologies needed to perform your day-to-day job duties, Control Engineering is equally committed to providing you the information that you need to remain relevant—and employed. With such dramatic global economic changes currently affecting engineers, we are producing two major-content initiatives for you in 2006—to keep you up to date with where you need to be focused for your future in engineering.

In February, the first of a four-part series of articles focused on enterprise integration will be published. Driven by reader survey results from fall 2005, the series will show how engineering is increasingly impacted by corporate IT projects, and illustrate how engineers can demonstrate their value to these projects, have a greater voice in the outcome, and play a more strategic role in the process.

A March global supplement will feature articles authored by the principal editors of each Control Engineering international edition—North America, China, Russia, Poland, and Europe. Each editor will discuss the state of their region's manufacturing market and how it is impacting the career of control engineers there.

Our intent with these projects is to provide the insight needed to remain as adaptable as possible to industry changes. If there are other evolution of engineering topics that you'd like to see covered in Control Engineering , drop me a line.

dgreenfield@reedbusiness.com





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