From building pyramids in the 27th century BCE, to designing modern day smart cities, engineering has had a long and cherished history. In the early years of the Industrial Revolution, raw science was the engine of innovation and progress. Today, cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are on the verge of taking over cognitive processes while maintaining synchronization with always connected networks and exchanges of information to shape the world of the future.
Engineering and Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence applications are eliminating man-made errors and are empowering the expression of knowledge and creativity with unparalleled precision. The search for a skilled employee has been merged with the concept of A.I. as recruiters search for the holy grail of biological cognition merging with artificial intelligence and creating a world of error-free information. The British car behemoth, Jaguar, in its hiring process inculcates a VR-STEP game just to give its potential employees hands-on experience in the world of A.I. Britain’s armed forces have imbibed training with A.I and Virtual Reality for future commandos to prepare for warzone situations.
Industry Relevance and Engineering Education
In a country of multiplying millions, half of the population is under 25 years while 67 percent is under 35 years of age, and by the year 2027. India will have the largest workforce in the world with over a billion people lying in the 15-64 year age-group. More than 3.5 thousand engineering colleges in the country beget 1.5 million engineers, specially trained to serve different mechanisms of invention. Unfortunately, not more than 33 percent of them are able to gain employment, albeit, with abysmal payment. To quote reports, “lack of skills required by the industry”, have been playing the antagonist between hiring processes and engineers.
India’s education system has been riding the wrong horse for quite some time now. With rapid industrialization in last few decades, technology has replaced conventional work culture in the office. Multitudes of engineering institutions and outgoing intellectual minds have been committing to memory, printed knowledge, without apprehending the shift industry has been taking in last few years. An employer will prefer a black-box with coded intelligence to the one who has all the knowledge to create that box but lacks 360 practical skills.
Jobs have become need and specialty based, in a company, today, out of 100 employees, 50 are assigned skill based designations like coders, web developers, system administrators, cyber security professionals and ethical hackers. The demand for employees to upskill to cutting-edge technologies is growing day by day.
Expression is as Important as Skill
One of the limitations most skilled engineers in the world face is the inability to enunciate their ideas with clarity and unambiguity, thus, making a great idea almost impossible to employ. This is where the scope and relevance of a coalition between engineering education and A.I, i.e. nurturing expression and creativity in aspiring engineers with an artificial mentor.
[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]More than 3.5 thousand engineering colleges in the country beget 1.5 million engineers, specially trained to serve different mechanisms of invention. Unfortunately, not more than 33 percent of them are able to gain employment.
The British car behemoth, Jaguar, in its hiring process inculcates a VR-STEP game just to give its potential employees hands-on experience in the world of A.I. Britain’s armed forces have imbibed training with A.I & VR for future commandos[/perfectpullquote]
Technological developments are expanding at such a pace that engineers cannot limit their knowledge to just one part of the orb; learning must shift from the centre and move toward multi-disciplinarianism. Thus, the future workplace would respond to the demands of flexibility and versatility and will welcome progressive thinkers (allowed to make few errors) to the industry. Knowledge providers have to step out of text books and in-depth practical experience should be imparted to students through a combination of rigorous industry interface and longer internships, organized not just by academies of learning but also by live businesses. A balanced faculty including lectures, facilitators and professionals from the industry will provide a window to students to take a sneak peek into the future of engineering, where their knowledge will taste experience.
Transforming Creativity into Reality
While the mind should shift from conventional to multidimensional education, some innate characteristics of the human brain should be nurtured at every institution. Empathy can be attributed only with the human brain and this is a triumph of nature over the synthetic brain. Education systems should start infusing technical training with an understanding of socio-cultural backdrops. Globalized society does not require a technical skill-set without cultural and economic comprehension. An analytical mind must be prompted to troubleshoot any situation with tact and diplomacy, and these qualities are often neglected or treated as ‘good-to-have crash courses’ in most engineering institutes within the country. The importance of communication and critical thinking is recognized and acknowledged as a critical asset in professional spaces.
On the question of self-aware machines posing a grave threat to employment of the labor force, a select few, of the country’s most progressive institutions such as JKLU have successfully integrated a multidisciplinary, project-based learning model in their curriculum to strengthen creativity, problem solving, perspective building and behavioural skills. After all, the goal of all education is to transform the students of today into visionaries of tomorrow who can meet and overcome any given challenge of the future.