The technological world has changed significantly over the past century from a mainly mechanical-driven one to an electrically controlled one. The sophisticated nature of the technology that supports our modern lifestyle ultimately needs its creators and keepers to be competent, innovative and clever in the application of their technical prowess. Engineers are central to the design and progression of technology.
Effective and appropriate education and training of engineers are therefore vital to create sustainable technical competence that will produce the devices that drive and maintain our society. In this education strategy, training in embedded systems design is pivotal, since the majority of electrical, electronic and computer engineering graduates will eventually work in embedded design. Education provided in South Africa to prepare aspiring embedded engineers is excellent, since educators realise their enormous responsibility towards:
South African engineers have traditionally been sought-after because of their holistic and innovative approach to solving engineering challenges. This unique approach is born from the need to improvise with limited resources and manpower – there is a recognised shortage of trained engineers in South Africa.
The result is that our engineers tend to be equipped with a diverse skills set that promotes inventive solutions to difficult problems. The recognition that this quality enjoys world-wide is evident in the significant number of South African engineers employed by the global microcontroller and embedded systems design and manufacturing industry.
Engineering education needs to be extended into the mentoring of graduates once they enter industry. The responsibility to train engineers competent in embedded design does not end with tertiary institutions: industry also has an important role to fulfil in this regard. Tertiary institutions deliver a generic product that needs to be shaped, guided and moulded by relevant experience in our local industry.
We need strong partnerships between universities and industry to inform and guide the educational objectives of engineering training in the context of our country’s specific technological needs. We need competent and enthusiastic mentors who accommodate engineering students for vacation work during their years of study to foster interest and inquisitiveness in the technical challenges posed by our techno-society. We need to nurture and impart to our successors the same sense of awe and responsibility that our generation of engineers has towards the significance of our profession in the future of our world.
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