Recently, the PTC Academic Program asked some of our most esteemed customers to reflect on the “skills gap” in engineering. We wanted to know what was missing when fresh graduates showed up on the company’s doorstep. What more could universities be doing to prepare the next generation of product developers?
John Mannisto, Director of Technology at Whirlpool came up with three skills he’d like to see incoming engineers possess. But he also talked about a fourth skill they already have that they may not be applying.
Here’s a summary of the skills Mannisto would like to see recent graduates bring to the job:
- CAE. For many students, analysis tools are for the specialists. But Mannisto says good engineers need to understand what an analysis is telling them about their model. “CAE should be a basic skill,” he says. “In fact, finite element analysis ought to be offered as a mainstream class to all mechanical engineering students.”
- More Industry Standard Tools. Too often, students learn about tools by helping professors develop them in house. By staying away from standard tools, students’ skills aren’t pigeonholed, some argue. “But the student who walks in here knowing PTC Creo and Ansys has a leg up on all the others in a job interview,” Mannisto says.
- Model-based systems engineering. Good engineers understand physics, of course, says Mannisto. But great engineers also understand the tradeoffs between cost and quality as they design products that get released into real world. Product developers should understand work processes, optimization methods, and risk management as well as making a model that meets basic specs.
- Connection and Collaboration. Fresh engineers today already know all about this skill, and now, more than ever, they need to speak up in the workplace.
Mannisto recalls a high school robotics class he worked with recently in which he and other mentors prepared to create a web page to help students communicate and collaborate—until one of the teenagers suggested a Facebook group. Within minutes the class was connected.
“Don’t assume your managers and long-time engineers have rejected these ideas,” he said. “Sometimes, we just don’t know about them.”
“So, speak up!”
You can hear more of Mannisto’s thoughts on “Bridging the Skills Gap,” in this half-hour webinar. And watch this space for more advice to schools and engineering students in the coming weeks.
Want to see CAE in action? This demonstration brings it all together in a real-world scenario: An engineer digitally applies force to a part, finds too much stress, adds material, and runs the analysis again. All in 4 minutes and 14 seconds.