Set new engineering habits
Each new year brings the promise of new ideas, attitudes, and focus. Whether the change comes in the form of a professional kick-start or a personal update, this time of renewal allows us to shed bad habits and start good ones.
Psychology research from 2009 shows that it takes 66 days to form a new habit. Assuming a 5-day workweek, that’s about 13 weeks to embrace a new routine. That means anything we want to add or subtract from our professional lives has to be done regularly through March, at minimum. Anyone who knows how hard it is to start a new exercise routine or kick a bad habit can attest that 66 days might be too short for them.
Here are a few engineering trends to consider to help you decide what to change this year:
Education is playing a larger role in many professionals’ lives. In a recent research study of all CFE Media brands (including this title, plus Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Oil & Gas Engineering), 93% off respondents indicated that “continuing education was personally important” to them. Of the respondents, 73% said that their firm invested in continuing education in some format. Education comes in many forms, and survey respondents are taking advantage of them. Investing in your career is important at any stage of it.
Staying abreast of business trends is important, no matter how large or small your firm is. An example: Just a couple of weeks ago, an owner of a small engineering firm called, asking me about trends in mergers and acquisitions. He wanted to know whether the phone call he had just received was legitimate—do firms really buy other firms? He reminded me that he was an engineer first and a business owner second, and he didn’t really keep on top of this kind of information. I was able to point him to research that tracked these types of transactions and give him an idea of the state of the industry.
Manufacturers and equipment vendors are providing more guidance. In a study of the Consulting-Specifying Engineer audience of professionals working with HVAC and building automation systems, 52% said that equipment vendors are always or frequently involved in helping them complete specifications (44% said occasionally; 2% said never). While the bottom line is important for manufacturers, ensuring that the specifying engineer is supported at all phases of a project is a piece of that puzzle. Aid in the form of education, highly technical customer service teams, and dedicated manufacturer representatives is becoming a necessity for successful project teams.
It’s important to know your area of expertise; it’s also important to know a little about everything else. While this sounds broad, every bit of data we collect about readership, website search habits, and engineering projects show that, while most people focus on one area, it’s important to have project teams that have core experts as well as folks who have broader knowledge or can bring experience from divergent backgrounds.