Connecting Young People To Engineering

IET

IET (Photo credit: Charles Mok)

“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well,

but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.”

Vaclav Havel (1936 – 2011) Czech Playwright, Essayist, Poet, Dissident and Politician

Adapted from a blog post I wrote for the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) My Community as a Member (MIET):

We need more young people to take up engineering related courses at a young age. The definition of young people for the purpose of this blog is young people aged 11-25.

This is very different to our (The IET) Young Professionals (YPs) forum/network/group that defines, “YPs are members in the early stages of their career, up to ten years after graduation, and are the future of the organisation.”

How can we introduce young people to engineering and increase take up of engineering related courses?

  • The IET urges school leavers to consider apprenticeships, now I am no expert on apprenticeships but maybe the IET/Local Networks(LNs) can start getting involved (maybe the IET is already involved) with organisations and helping them establish such apprenticeships.
  • IET launched a £1m scholarship fund (The IET Diamond Jubilee Scholarship) recently & I think if all members started to inform their local schools/colleges (or children’s schools/colleges), momentum and traction towards the scholarship and engineering in general could be attained.
  • The IET could perhaps launch a Young Peoples forum/network/group for 11-25 year olds in local areas, akin to LNs (or indeed under the auspices of LNs) where local children aged 11-25 arranged their own events with local mentoring provided by perhaps LNs.
  • Young people are born in the digital age and have a good idea of what they want from the future and have innovative ideas, e.g. controlling daily household appliances using the mind. (See next two bullet points)
  • The IET need representation from young people (11-25) on the board of trustees. A good example is the National Children’s Bureau (NCB)
  • The NCB also has a membership board advisory group that also has representation by young people.

Case studies:

  • A young entrepreneur’s story – Matt Wilson, CEng, FIET (No route to join professional body as a young person) “I joined IET in 2007 because I wanted to be part of an important institution that is not solely academic. The IET is made up of engineers, real people with hands on experience in engineering. Becoming a Fellow helped me to further my career and become involved in committees whose policies affect the engineering industry. This commands a lot of respect. My customers also recognise the quality of my work because I have achieved Fellow status.’ Matt

Read more: http://businesscasestudies.co.uk/iet/entrepreneurship-in-engineering/a-young-entrepreneurs-story.html#ixzz2Bx2zScDz

Do you have any ideas?

Please do comment/introduce your ideas.

Let’s start the chain reaction and get young people studying engineering/technology again…..

Choosing technology over customers

“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.”

Warren Buffet (1930 – ) World’s most successful investor

I recently received a blog post from Software Advice on – Why the Technology Matters – An Analysis of Consona’s Acquisition of Compiere. That blog post made me think about my recent posts over the last few months on Cloud Computing and Google Apps etc in May, June, my blog post last year on ERP and this year’s – Leveraging IT for Competitive Advantage – Myth or Reality? The ERP blog post covered the recent acquisitions that had happened within the competitive ERP arena and Leveraging IT for Competitive Advantage – Myth or Reality? attempted to address whether competitive advantage could be realised through effective use of IT.

Now, as we all know from the blog post, Warren Buffet’s (World’s most successful investor) management style and CIOs, the technology business is not considered a viable investment by him as he admits that he doesn’t understand technology and considers technology too volatile.  So, when Don Fornes wrote that he thought Consona had acquisitioned Compiere ‘because the Compiere product is built on a very modern technology stack and is designed to run in a cloud computing environment’ it made sense.

This was also confirmed by a quote by Consona’s CTO, Steve Bailey, ‘Compiere is the world’s leading open-source ERP solution and the products are brilliantly architected. They run on a fully open-source stack (e.g., Java, Linux, JBOSS, Postgres), utilize a browser-based AJAX UI based on the Google Web Toolkit, and are fully operational either on premise or on a utility cloud platform like Amazon…’

Don went on to say, ‘While Consona has acquired a number of software companies based on this model, that doesn’t seem to be the strategy behind the Compiere deal. Compiere brings only 130 customers to Consona and I doubt Compiere’s open-source business model was generating big profits. Instead of buying customers and profits, Consona seems to be thinking ahead about how they can lead the market in the next generation of technology. The acquisition is more about growing organically – selling more Compiere systems – than it is about harvesting customer support contracts.’

‘Why is this all relevant to software buyers? Because there is a big shift underway from client/server systems installed “on premise” to cloud-based or software-as-a-service systems that are hosted in a secure data center and accessed through a web browser. Moreover, the open source movement is producing underlying technology that is not only free, but increasingly really good stuff. Software vendors that don’t make the transition will wither on the vine.’

‘To highlight the significance of this model, consider that a bunch of brilliant Google engineers built some cutting edge user interface technology (Google Web Toolkit) and open sourced it. Compiere turned around and used it in their products. Google did a big part of Compiere’s engineering for free…and will continue to do so. Now that’s efficient development.’

‘Compare that to an application software company that has to pay ongoing royalties to an infrastructure software company for the privilege of developing on its outdated database or development tools. The smart engineers long since left both companies so they could work on cooler projects at more modern software companies. The mediocre engineers that remain are having a hard time developing new features on old code. Sales are declining and customers are defecting (albeit slowly because it’s hard to switch).’

‘You don’t want to be that customer that is trying to defect but fears the switching costs. You want to be the delighted customer that loves their software because it works today and will work tomorrow, regardless of what new requirements emerge.’

As we are constantly bombarded by marketers and pushed towards cloud computing models, please remember that (as Marcela Cueli said in his article),

‘For a start, cloud computing is not a technology but a model of provision and marketing IT services that meet certain characteristics. Cloud is all about computer services, not products:

* The infrastructure is shared. Multiple clients share a common technology platform and even a single application instance.

* The services are accessed on demand in units that vary by service. Units can be, for example, user, capacity, transaction or any combination thereof.

* Services are scalable. From the user’s point of view, services are flexible; there are no limits to growth.

* The pricing model is by consumption. Instead of paying the fixed costs of a service sized to handle peak usage, you pay a variable cost per unit consumption (users, transactions, capacity, etc.) that is measured in time periods that can vary, such as hour or month.

* Services can be accessed from anywhere in the world by multiple devices. The cloud model leads to basically two different kinds of clouds: private and public. The public clouds are those that offer IT services to any customer over the Internet. Private clouds offer IT services to a predefined group of customers, with access through Internet or private networks. You might have also heard about internal and external clouds. The former are a subgroup of the private clouds, and provide services within the same company or corporate group. The latter may be public or private and provide services to other companies.’

To conclude, this is exactly what I have been discussing in my blog posts over the last year or so. Don’s thoughts are increasingly reflective of the technology blogosphere as technology writers’ such as Don and I understand the repercussions of the effects of cloud computing on traditional client/server models and associated revenue streams, licensing etc.

There are many facets that I have covered over the last year or so that lead companies to be in this vulnerable position where they have to resort to acquisitions to remain contenders within their marketplace. My blog posts mentioned earlier have considered these, so apart from the above posts, I will leave you with some other posts that should help companies and their management become successful.

What is Cloud Computing? Its Pros/Cons and making it work

Lawmakers question the security of cloud computing

Can IT Management failure be caused by a deadly disease? Part I

Can IT Management failure be caused by a deadly disease? Part II

I listened, you spoke but did we communicate?

IT benchmarking

The CIOs agenda and memberships

Challenges facing CIOs at the UK’s leading companies