What skills will the engineer of the future need?

Leah Jamieson, a keynote speaker at DesignCon 2007 this week, said that in addition to imparting superb technical skills, engineering schools must reward ingenuity and flexibility and give students opportunities to develop leadership and business skills.

Jamieson, who received her doctorate from Princeton Engineering in 1977 and who is the dean of engineering at Purdue, said that the current “half life” of an engineer’s education — by which she means the point at which half of what an engineer has learned is obsolete — may be as little as five years.

“In many ways, the world is changing,” said Jamieson. “Are our graduates going to have the skills they need over the next 40 years?” Jamieson’s comments reflect the mission of Princeton’s Center for Innovation in Engineering Education (Jamieson sits on CIEE’s advisory council).

At DesignCon, Jamieson, who is president of IEEE this year, was given the International Engineering Consortium Fellow Award. As an IEC fellow, she is in good company: other fellows include Gordon Moore, Jack Kilby, and David Packard.

Both EETimes and EDN covered Jamieson’s address. View Jamieson’s whole speech via streaming video on the DesignCon website. You can also read a roundtable discussion on engineering education featuring Jamieson, Michigan’s David Munson and Princeton’s H. Vincent Poor (all three Princeton Engineering Ph.D.s who were named deans of engineering this year).