What are the best ways to keep your engineering knowledge up-to-date?

14.12.2018

Engineering is in a state of flux: with the fourth industrial revolution waiting just around the corner, fast-paced technological advancement is happening at an exponential rate. Just when you’ve finally understood how to use a particular tool, a new one is introduced to your workflow. Just when you thought you had a clear focus, a new challenge arises to throw you off course.

You may have dedicated significant time towards gaining a qualification, but learning shouldn’t stop at graduation. In fact, the very nature of engineering demands professionals in this sector to constantly think two steps ahead as to the skills required for the future. In a sector characterised by constant change, keeping abreast of key industry updates and ensuring your skills are sharp and relevant can prove challenging. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to stay connected with the latest industry insights and technological developments: 

Enlist an industry buddy

If you feel you have no time to commit to a course, make yourself accountable to someone. Joining forces with a well-seasoned professional or mentor in the industry who is willing to discuss your aspirations as an engineer will motivate you to find the time for learning – even if it’s a quick meeting after work to discuss emerging technologies, best practice or even impartial, confidential guidance through a particular issue. If you already know of someone, great: if not, you can take advantage of the IET mentoring service dedicated to pairing ambitious engineers with volunteer members to enable knowledge sharing within the sector.

Enrol on an Open University course

Committing to continuous professional development is critical for all engineers, no matter which branch they work in – that said, taking time out of your career to further your studies can be disruptive in itself. Distance courses from the Open University can prove a flexible solution to keeping ahead of the curve and strengthening your knowledge either within your current discipline or another side of the profession. With the option to take on an online course part-time, you can fit learning and development around your working day at a time that suits you best.

Keep ahead of the curve with online resources

As technology evolves, the STEM skills gap widens: across the UK, employers are struggling to source talented tech and engineering professionals equipped with the skills necessary for a digital future. While the need for workplace learning is undeniable, engineers who dedicate portions of their downtime to upskilling themselves through e-learning courses, publications, webinars and whitepapers will naturally boost their own employability.

Keep growing and nurturing your network

Keeping your knowledge up to date may be facilitated by digital publications and online learning resources, but if you’re eager to hear tips of the trade, there’s no better way than joining a group with a passion for engineering or building your own community through ongoing networking. While trade shows, exhibitions, conferences and workshops can all prove incredibly useful in gaining the latest information and seeing product demonstrations, they may not always fit around your schedule. Fortunately, arranging a few simple meet-ups with like-minded, local engineers throughout the year can stop you from feeling “out of the loop” and even spark ideas.