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Industry News What tomorrow's engineers have to be able to do

Editor: Florian Richert

A study by the VDMA shows what the engineers of tomorrow will have to be able to do - and with an online tool, you can test yourself now.

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The demands placed on engineers change rapidly, whether they are studying or working.
The demands placed on engineers change rapidly, whether they are studying or working.
(Source: Public Domain / CC0 )

The industry is in a state of flux - Industry 4.0, networking, automation and others require not only companies to rethink. Above all, the training of engineers at universities must be adapted to technical progress. In its study "Ingenieurinnen und Ingenieure für Industrie 4.0." (Engineers for Industry 4.0.), the VDMA summarises the requirements today's engineers should meet and how far German universities have already gone.

Basic knowledge of computer science is now essential

According to the study, universities have already developed the first targeted approaches to engineering training for industry 4.0. Nevertheless, in many cases, they are still at the beginning of a necessary development. In particular, the integration of new technical content poses a major challenge: There are hardly any structured decision-making processes for incorporating new content or deleting old content, the study concludes. Also, administrative hurdles make it difficult to organize studies across faculties and departments.
In the fields of mechanical engineering and electrical engineering, basic knowledge of computer science will be indispensable in the future. Computer science also needs mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. For a stronger interdisciplinary connection, the study recommends the introduction of a two-semester common engineer-scientific basic study. In this way, students could gain equal insight into the engineering disciplines of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science.

Check your competence online

"The core of the 'Target Profile Engineers 4.0' is formed by the technical requirements in the respective engineering disciplines", emphasizes Dr. Eckhard Heidling, scientist at ISF Munich and project leader of the study. "New skills include computer science, data science, and data security". Engineers must also be able to integrate perspectives from other disciplines into their work. Methodical competencies, in particular, process and system thinking, as well as interdisciplinary competencies such as the ability to work in a team, independence or the ability to learn and adapt are therefore particularly important.
The study also developed a "Competence Check 4.0" aimed at students, employees, and companies. The online tool provides information about the own engineering competences for industry 4.0.

VDMA supports universities in ongoing development

The VDMA supports the universities in the further development of their teaching with the Maschinenhaus. The starting point was the high dropout rates in the engineering sciences. Since 2013, more than 50 consulting projects have been carried out at the universities. A toolbox combines outstanding examples of good teaching. The "Best Maschinenhaus", the highest endowed teaching prize in the engineering sciences, honors innovative teaching concepts for greater academic success. In the future, digitization and the departments and faculties of computer science will be a particular focus of the nacelle initiative.
The study was commissioned by the Impuls-Stiftung des VDMA and prepared by the Institut für Sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung e. V. - ISF München. It can be downloaded from the foundation's homepage (in German).

This article was previously published in German on the Elektrotechnik.