In a world of AI and robots, are we doing enough to create the next generation of engineers? It’s a question on the minds of Engineers Australia President Trish White and CEO Peter McIntyre.
The best interest of STEM professions and the Australian economy are one and the same. At the heart of both is ensuring that Australia has the skills to deliver our high-tech infrastructure and transform our economy to meet the needs of a future based on innovation, technology, data and knowledge.
In keeping with this, Engineers Australia is excited to be hosting the 2018 Australian Engineering Conference at the ICC in Sydney on 17-19 September.
The three-day event will see global engineering leaders share their insights and expertise with a focus on the future of engineering, innovation and jobs.
Speakers include international leaders in their fields, such as Google Lead Engineer Ray Kurzweil and Michael McAllum from Global Foresight.
Future-proofing careers with insights into artificial intelligence, robotics and other leading technologies will be among the topics tackled at the conference as well as questions around ethics. How will humans increasingly interact with AI and robots? How is automation continuing to radically change the way we work and the jobs market?
What we do know is that our most employable graduates are now not the most technically brilliant, but those who demonstrate an ability to understand their profession in a human context.
But we need more of them! Right now the nation is at risk of not being able to sustain STEM professions in this country. We are in danger of not being able to offer a pipeline of STEM-prepared school children to feed our university courses – let alone industry demands.
More than 58 per cent of our engineering workforce are now overseas-born, and without investment in getting our youngsters STEM-savvy, there’s a real chance that Australia’s STEM workforce will be one we borrow from elsewhere.
Engineers Australia is working closely with parents, school students, educators, policy makers and industry to try to change this and the often outdated perceptions of what an engineering career looks like.
Featured in this month’s create are wonderful examples of the exciting, creative and sometimes life-changing work the profession spans.
Sarah Bergbreiter is a roboticist specialising in microrobotics. Her work is inspired by insects like ants and focuses on creating tiny robots that can crawl through rubble in disaster areas looking for survivors. In the future she hopes to develop the microbots to move around inside the human body to track and treat disease.
Some of the best technical engineering minds are currently involved with one of the biggest sporting events on the planet – the FIFA World Cup. These engineers are developing soccer balls with built-in near field communication chips – essentially smart balls with tracking devices.
And we speak to young engineer Michaela Craft who oversees BOC’s $100 million energy portfolio in a time of unprecedented marketplace change.
This is just a small taste of the breadth and brilliance a career in engineering can bring.
Engineers Australia will continue to advocate this message to our stakeholders and students. The nation’s future prosperity and encouraging the next generation of engineers demands it.