— Creativity — Since their work often revolves around numbers and facts, engineers are often mistaken to be lacking creativity. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Creativity is the ability to make, invent or produce something new, rather than imitating something that already exists. Yes, often times engineers are building off something else, but the creative label still applies as they look for new methods and processes to solve problems cheaper, faster and better. Engineers are exceptionally creative, and this creativity is the reason engineers dream up innovations and solutions to all kinds of problems. They are the ones to ask, “What if?” and truly come up with something that has never been seen before. Employers value creativity because creative people are the flexible thinkers who can not only find new solutions for new problems, but new ways to motivate, new opportunities for business operations and relationships, anticipate what customers will want to know before the questions is asked, and be willing to pursue independent or additional education and training. 162
“Machines may take over the number crunching and technical drawing, the data analysis and the tedious, repetitive tasks — but they will not be able to think creatively in the same way as a human.” It’s a given that the most successful engineers are also the most creative, and while having a solid grasp on your core technical skills is of course necessary, it is creativity that enables engineers to apply all this knowledge in new and exciting ways. “The skills needed to succeed in today’s world and the future are curiosity, creativity, taking initiative, multidisciplinary thinking and empathy. These skills, interestingly, are the skills specific to human beings that machines and robots cannot do, and you can be taught to strengthen these skills through education. I look forward to seeing innovative live and online programs that can teach these at scale,” stated Tiffany Shlain, founder of the Webby Awards. ADAPTING AND INNOVATING IN CREATIVE NEW WAYS So, what will make creativity such a valuable skill for future engineering jobs? With all the changes to technology, society and individuals that we can already see coming, as well as those we haven’t yet anticipated, creativity will be the key as engineers will have to not only respond to the existing
THE EUROPEAN WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING AWARDS >> MAY 2019
problems, but also to think “outside the box” and identify new problems before they arise. Machines may take over the number crunching and technical drawing, the data analysis and the tedious, repetitive tasks—but they will not be able to think creatively in the same way as a human. The new industrial revolution will bring a ton of new technology, new products and new ways of working, so creativity will be an essential skill to be able to see the best ways to use all these assets, and to adapt to each new technological change. “The most important skill is a meta-skill: the ability to adapt to changes,” stated Carlton Pu, professor and junior chair in software at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “As the rate of technological innovation intensifies, the workforce of the future will need to adapt to new technology and new markets. The people who can adapt the best (and fastest) will win. This view means that any given set of skills will become obsolete quickly as innovations change the various economic sectors: precision agriculture, manufacturing 4.0, precision medicine, just to name a few.”
2019 WICE awards and summit summary.