How Engineers Can Embrace Change When AI and Automation Take Their Jobs

Who moved my job? This could soon become a common question among engineers. How can they embrace change in a future where AI and automation take the stage? Or the factory!
Susan Fourtané

Engineering has always been considered an evolving industry that helps businesses transform. Keeping up with the evolution of engineering means that engineers must keep themselves actively embracing change, industry evolution, constant and consistently learning new skills, and always actively ready to move their careers forward when times of change come.  

Embracing change in engineering

"I could either watch it happen, or be a part of it." - Elon Musk 

Resisting change in times of rapid technological advancement and innovation has never been a good option for anyone. Let alone for engineers in the age of Industry 4.0

You can be very comfortable in your job. That is your comfort zone. You have been in your comfort zone for many years, perhaps decades. All of a sudden, your company decides to adopt a new technology, a new software, implementing some machine learning here and there, incorporating highly efficient automation and robotics.

You can either be made redundant or offered to up your game learning new skills and embracing a new way of doing things, collaborating with all the newly acquired technology. In short, if you want to remain relevant, you need to leave your fears behind, move quickly out from your comfort zone, and explore the unknown. 

If you are not familiar with New York Times bestselling author Dr. Spencer Johnson's book, Who Moved My Cheese?, here below you will find a nice little short movie that summarizes quite well the essence of the book.

Who Moved My Cheese? is a simple and entertaining parable that encapsulates profound truths. It is a good read that can be adapted to multiple personal and professional situations when you need to stop for a moment, evaluate your current situation, breathe deeply, say goodbye to your comfort zone, and embrace change as well as the unknown.  

The cheese of an engineer keeps on moving in the maze 

In Who Moved My Cheese?, two mice and two little people who live in a maze, spend their days trying to find new cheese. The problem is that somehow the cheese keeps moving.

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Cheese is a metaphor for what you want either in life or in your career. The maze is where you look for what you want. The maze can be the company where you work. 

In the story, the four characters learned some valuable lessons that you can apply to your engineering career and your job if you want to always be prepared in times of change. The important lesson that you need to learn is how to anticipate, adapt to, and enjoy change being ready to quickly embrace change whenever you need to.

  • Change happens: Someone will always move the cheese 

  • Anticipate change: Now that you know that someone can move your cheese be prepared for it. Learn from your experience  

  • Monitor change: Pay careful attention to what is going on around your cheese, so you can be ready for change whenever change takes place

  • Adapt to change quickly: The quicker you let the old method go the sooner you can enjoy the new one. This is super important to always stay updated, which is what keeps you relevant  

  • Change: There is nothing wrong with going after new cheese. In fact, embracing the new is paramount in this century

  • Enjoy the change: The new skills you acquire during the process may be more valuable than you think. You can apply your new skills and learn new ones all the time

As an engineer, you always need to anticipate change 

Adapt to change quickly. This cannot be emphasized enough. The quicker you let go of old ways to do your job, the sooner you can enjoy new ways of doing your job or new job. Even if this means adapting and learning how to work and collaborate with robots. You may not like it at the beginning, but this is the future. The sooner you embrace it the faster you will navigate the changes in your career. 

All this is not new. Jobs have always changed and evolved in the history of humanity. There are countless jobs that were either transformed or made redundant. Some adapted and embraced change. Those are the ones who succeeded. Some others resisted and there was no place for them in the new way of doing things. Change always means evolution. 

Think of long-distance travel, for instance. At the beginning, people walked long distances. With time, they used horses, carriages, automobiles. Then there was Uber, autonomous vehicles, and in the near future even autonomous flying vehicles. One day, teleporting is going to be the new way of traveling any distance.  

Savor the adventure and enjoy the way of doing things differently. Be ready to quickly change and enjoy it again. 

Jobs keep changing and evolving all the time. This happened in the past. It is happening now as we speak. It will happen in the future again and again. If there is one thing that has remained consistent in the history of humanity it has been change.    

How to transition the engineer's job and career into the new scenario

Technological developments such as Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and automation are going to become more and more common in global industries.

The mass adoption of these and other emerging technologies are going to dramatically transform the engineers' jobs. However, this does not mean that all engineers are going to be made redundant. On the contrary, those who are skilled workers are going to be part of a change in the job market.

The need for engineers with a solid professional knowledge coupled with soft skills, strong programming skills, emotional intelligence, and the capacity to monitor, anticipate, and embrace change quickly are going to be able to transition successfully into the new engineering of the 21st century.  

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