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Technology Leaders See Major Changes in the Way Engineers Work and Innovate

The global economy and other business factors are exerting major change in the engineering profession, forcing engineers to master new strategies and skills for career success.

According to business and technology leaders who will speak at the 2008 ASME Annual Meeting in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., engineering work today is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary and collaborative, reflecting a trend among global firms to coordinate widely dispersed people and resources in the quest to innovate and compete.

“Collaboration refers to a new, holistic way of approaching projects, in which engineers think beyond their own specialties and assignments,” said Michael Rogers, futurist-in-residence at The New York Times Company, who will moderate three plenary sessions at the ASME Annual Meeting. “Moreover, collaboration implies an essential proactive stance, which is evident when engineers seek out opportunities to leverage the skills and abilities from others to improve the process.”

The aim of the meeting this June 7-11 at Walt Disney World® Swan and Dolphin Resort is to promote an information exchange on best practices in interdisciplinary collaboration, as well as raise awareness among attendees – including young engineers embarking on careers – of the changing expectations of employers and need to adopt a new mind-set enabling success in the global workplace. The meeting will echo the conference theme “Innovative Partnering: Interdisciplinary Challenges to Designing the Future.”

Rogers, who is one of the nation’s leading authorities on the impact of technology on business and society, said that new tools are emerging to aid engineers in making the transition into the collaborative marketplace. These tools include enterprise wikis, in which collective project knowledge can be shared, and virtual environments that assist widely dispersed work groups to communicate as if in the same physical space.

According to Rogers, other factors driving the need for engineers to collaborate in interdisciplinary partnerships include technological complexity and the fast pace of global business. “The rapid rate at which products are designed and entered in the marketplace requires just-in-time execution and coordination,” said Rogers.

The plenary sessions at the 2008 ASME Annual Meeting are titled “Envisioning the Future,” “Critical Skills Needed to Overcome 21st Century Challenges,” and “Partnering: Interdisciplinary Approaches Are the Keys to Success.” The panelists represent IBM, Westinghouse Electric, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and other firms.

According to Rogers, engineers lacking collaborative ability could struggle in the emerging workplace. “At the same time, we are seeing a younger generation of workers raised in an environment of online social networking,” said Rogers. “This generation will produce engineers who are comfortable in partnerships and collaborations.”

For detailed information on the 2008 ASME Annual Meeting, visit the Web site at or call (866) 519-1299.

Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization promoting the art, science and practice of mechanical and multidisciplinary engineering and allied sciences.

John Varrasi | newswise
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