Author: Geert Letens, ASEM President
Our International Annual Conference in Indy was all about driving change, as it should be. The world is changing fast, and yet, more change is coming. According to Thomas Frey, Google’s top rated futurist speaker, humanity will change more in the next 20 years than in all of human history. There are tremendous challenges ahead of us: sustainability and climate change, the energy crisis, population explosion and changing societal demographics, and finding resources to feed 9 billion people. This is not just a burning platform – it rather looks like a burning ocean. More than ever, engineers will be needed to make a difference: failure is not an option. The good news is that they will be able to do what they are really good at: providing out of the box solutions for complex problems with stringent conditions.
But to deal with tomorrow’s challenges, engineers will have to change, too. While over the next 20 years, two billion jobs may disappear, most of them are forecasted to come back in different forms in different industries, with over 50% structured as freelance projects rather than full-time jobs (Thomas Frey, 2013). This implies the rise of a whole new development industry, allowing people to switch professions with less than 6 months of training and apprenticeship. Our society needs to be ready to support engineers to deal with these shifts throughout their career, providing them with the instruments and credibility (or, the knowledge and certifications, respectively) to be successful. While we do so, we will lay the foundation to accelerate the future.
This future will be without any doubt international: future measures of relevance will be determined on a global scale. The signs of international collaboration are already clearly visible in our society. Almost 40% of authors in the Engineering Management Journal are international. At the conference in Indianapolis, five continents were represented, coming from 23 countries. In May, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Division of Engineering Management of the Chinese Academy of Engineering at the 9th Engineering Management Forum in Guangzhou. Currently we are very close to welcoming our first international sections of ASEM in Brazil and Pakistan. As your first truly international president, I look forward to further growing our international presence, and reaching out to other societies to co-organize engineering management events around the world.
All this requires us to continue to refine our products and services and to focus on value delivery for all of our customer groups: academics and students, as well as practitioners in industry. Ideas are not lacking – on the contrary! That is why I want to take this opportunity to reach out to you. If you too acknowledge that the world is changing, and believe that engineers and engineering managers will be essential to make a difference, then consider joining our team. Of course I understand there still may be questions about ‘how’ and ‘what’, but if already we share the same ‘why’, I am sure we will be able to find the right way for you to contribute to a society that wants to accelerate the future of engineers around the world.
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Let’s get connected!
Geert Letens, PhD PEM