Partner Focus: National Instruments
Q: What kind of education will today's engineering student need to be successful in the future?
A: The ideal engineering education focuses on design, creativity, and innovation, combined with essential technical understanding. They [students] must be able to synthesize unique and innovative designed using their knowledge and creativity. Hands-on and experimental learning is critical to unlocking and developing these skills.
Q: How does hands-on learning impact the engineer of tomorrow?
A: It is critical for students to work on exciting projects so they can fully develop the theoretical knowledge they learn in the classroom. In a hands-on learning environment, one project can encompass multiple subjects, such as physics and calculus, helping students understand how all of these disciplines work together.
Q: Who are the engineers of 2020?
A: They are 10 years old right now, male and female, culturally diverse, and in fourth grade. They are the students who we must excite and inspire now to become the world's future heroes - the scientists and engineers, for example, who will help to cure diseases, create sustainable energy, and ensure safe drinking water in every country.
Q: What skills do tomorrow's engineers and scientists need to be successful?
A: New engineering graduates will encounter a couple of challenges specific to this day and age. The first, and biggest, is the converging complexity of devices and systems. Take an automobile telematics system for example. Today, the system incorporates not only the standard radio and CD player but also a cell phone, wireless Internet, GPS navigation system, DVD player, communication to handsets and PDAs via Bluetooth technology, and remote diagnostics. No single engineer can understand each of these technologies, but he or she must be capable of designing, prototyping, and deploying this system in a few months. The second challenge is, because the products they design will probably be co-designed with someone in another region of the world and then likely produced at another location, today's engineers must not only be technically competent, but also skilled at working on and managing teams of engineers with diverse cultural backgrounds.
Q: How does National Instruments play a role in engineering education?
A: The LabVIEW platform is the core of our approach to engineering education. With its graphical nature, students now only develop systems with real I/O quickly and efficiently; they also can be more creative. LabVIEW makes it easier for students to take risk with their designs - they can write their systems and prototypes directly in LabVIEW.
Q: How should companies play a role in STEM-Related organizations?
A: There are a number of key organizations working to support strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for tomorrow's engineers. At NI we collaborate with leading organizations such as LEGO® Education, FIRST, Project Lead The Way, Vernier, and The Infinity Project. These organizations have a strong knowledge of what it takes to make an impact on STEM education, and we support them by providing the technology and tools kids need for hands-on learning.