Filling the skills gap: Future generations, industry, change the world

If the challenge of finding engineers is so fierce, what can be done to fill the skills gap? ABB profiles employment opportunities, and IEEE developed a “Change the World Competition.” See images, links for more info, including how to...
By Control Engineering Staff September 16, 2008

Raleigh, NC, and Piscataway, NJ – If the challenge of finding engineers is so fierce, what can be done? ABB profiles employment opportunities, and IEEE developed a “Change the World Competition.”

ABB meets with university graduates to profile engineering opportunities.
Students, recent hires of ABB, were picked for its Engineering Leaders for the Future program.

Representatives from ABB recently met with university graduates to profile engineering opportunities in Local Business Units that comprise their five U.S. divisions. Students, recent hires of ABB , were picked for its Engineering Leaders for the Future program. Division business professionals met with them at ABB division headquarters for Power Products in Raleigh.
“It was exhilarating to be able to introduce a global company with so much reach, and a deep product line that is evergreen, to a room of college students genuinely interested in the future of electrical energy and a rewarding work opportunity,” said Kathleen Watson, ABB Automation Products division. “Employment opportunities exist all along the ABB electrical chain– from generation through to how electricity is deployed and used inside buildings and processing facilities.” Watson is product manager for component and machinery drives lines at the New Berlin, WI, drives headquarters.
“We started the program this summer to give students with an expressed interest in engineering a very concrete track from study/graduation to employment,” added Noelle Heinrich, who administers the program. Over an 18-month period, graduates with mechanical, electrical or industrial engineering degrees go through three rotations across ABB’s divisions and visit businesses located in the U.S., Canada. and/or Mexico. At the end of the rotation, graduates are sought by, and placed into, divisions and countries that graduates identify as a high point of interest, and where ABB managers have identified areas where they want to place graduates.
The global nature of ABB’s business attracts students, according to the team of presenters. “We try hard to communicate that the opportunities are virtually limitless,” said Heinrich, “because ABB is far flung in its geographic reach, with deep local-market service to customers; so new employees can choose among opportunities that span from the oil-sand fields of Calgary, to pursuing work in one of the most deeply funded R&D centers, among all automation suppliers, in Zurich, Switzerland.”
The early success of “ Engineering Leaders for the Future ” is creating momentum and interest, as it continues. Presenters noted that the “Did You Know?” series of questions they ask students is effective in piquing interest. These range from little-to-well-known facts about energy generation, transmission, and usage, to facts about ABB.
“These questions ignite the discussion and spark the students to listen even more carefully,” said Heinrich. “As part of the wrap-up to the day, we re-visit these questions and enlist the students to tell us if and how the orientation has helped them enlarge their view of their opportunities within the company. We know that these questions then become part of what attendees ask their friends and families. The facts create a lot of curiosity and excitement.”
Change the world,

IEEE announced the first IEEE Presidents’ Change the World Competition for college and university students who demonstrate excellence in design and implementation of technology that can solve a life challenge for the benefit of humanity.

IEEE Presidents’ Change the World Competition for college and university students
IEEE, to spark interest in engineering and techology, asks college students to change the world, and is offering prizes.

The goal is to recognize and reward individual students or teams of students who identify a real-world problem and apply engineering, science, computing, and leadership skills to solve it, offering an opportunity to have students’ ingenuity and enthusiasm for engineering and technology recognized by IEEE members worldwide.
Winners will receive awards ranging from a grand prize of $10,000 and being named “IEEE Student Humanitarian Supreme,” to runner-up prizes of $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000. Winners of the top three prizes will be invited to accept awards in-person next June at the annual IEEE Honors Ceremony in Los Angeles, CA. Up to 15 semifinalists will compete for a $500 Peoples’ Choice award selected by popular vote from the contest Website.
“The IEEE Presidents’ Change the World Competition is an exciting way to engage students and help unlock the passion so many of them have for helping humanity and making a difference for mankind,” said John Vig, president-elect of IEEE and chair of the 125th anniversary committee. “This contest provides the opportunity for students worldwide to change at least a small part of the world, to communicate their ideas, express their creativity, entrepreneurship and leadership, and use their engineering and technology skills to make a positive impact.”
The contest is open to individual IEEE student members or teams of college and university- students who have selected an IEEE student member as the team lead. Entries are submitted via a form on the competition Website, and include project title, problem description, solution, impact on humanity or a community, primary leader with name and contact information, other major student contributors and their contributions, and additional contributors.
Submissions will be evaluated in IEEE’s 10 geographic regions by each IEEE Regional Student Activities Committee, which will select and rank up to five of the best projects in their region by March 30, 2009. A global competition judging committee will review entries selected by the Regional Student Activities Committee and d rank 15 finalist projects which best meet the competition criteria, by April 20, 2009. The projects will be posted on the competition Website; there will be a campaign to encourage voting for a People’s Choice prize.
The 2008, 2009 and 2010 IEEE presidents will evaluate the 15 projects and select the prize winners by May 10, 2009. Entries will be judged based on results achieved and their impact on humanity, or, on a community. Sustainability, reusability, and transportability of the results to other parts of the world, entrepreneurship, originality, creativity and leadership are evaluation factors.
The Competition is part of the global celebration of IEEE’s 125th Anniversary.

–  Control Engineering News Desk
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