I know — this is just another article on the Internet of Things amidst a sea of articles on the Internet of Things. Just hear me out.
The Internet of Things has fallen victim to mass adoption of technology that engineers and manufacturers have had at their disposal for decades. (3D print anyone?) But that doesn’t mean that what we have known for years can’t be improved upon, and it certainly doesn’t mean there isn’t value left for us.
I’ll be the first to admit my disdain for buzzwords, but they have a purpose. Internet of Things, the rebranded Connectivity, did something manufacturing has been in desperate need of — it made it relevant. And you know who cares about relevance? Millennials.
Nobody wants to work in an industry that doesn’t seem to have a promising future. With years of negative connotation coupled with outsourcing production, what used to be touted as a revolution was boiled down to a niche group of primarily geeky males at tech schools and recipients of family businesses.
However, in the last two years questions about how to become an “IoT engineer” have appeared on forums like Quora and Reddit. Listings are appearing on Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Which makes sense, because all these buzzwords are giving manufacturers the spotlight once again.
At its core, engineering was about learning how everything works and then solving problems for a better and more efficient world. The Internet of Things strives for the same solutions. As with most tech trends, commercialism launched it to wide adoption, causing a better understanding and a desire to apply the trend to business. For modern manufacturers, that might bring things full circle — but it also brings the public back into the manufacturing world, including our future employees.
As an industry with a huge skills gap, we need to do everything we can to generate more enthusiasm and interest in our work. The Internet of Things allows millennials to see their place in an evolving industry. Though they may not have to get their hands dirty directly on the equipment, our robotics and systems need to be designed, manufactured, programed to work with each other, and then managed once working on the floor. This still requires all the knowledge manufacturers and engineers have today, as well as the tech savvy they have acquired as they grew up.
Any successful industry changes over time. We are not where we started. We have evolved tremendously from the Industrial Revolution to the Computer Revolution to now. Internet of Things is looking like it will be a big part of what the industry will change into next. Millennials need to be aware of that as they enter the workforce. Once they know where we’ve been and where we are, they can determine where we’re going.
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