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Evolving Industry Expectations For Engineers: The Impact Of Global Manufacturing

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.249.1 - 4.249.6

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John R. Wagner

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3522

Evolving Industry Expectations for Engineers - The Impact of Global Manufacturing John R. Wagner Department of Mechanical Engineering, Clemson University


Practicing engineers need to develop a career plan to ensure that they can meet the challenges in the evolving global workplace. The academic foundation established by an engineering degree may launch a professional career, but individuals must take a proactive role in their professional development activities to permit career advancement. This task is becoming more crucial as international conglomerates continue to establish manufacturing plants around the world. Engineering activities on “world” products are often performed at multiple design centers located in various countries and are staffed by nationals. To facilitate the design and manufacturing processes, frequent teleconferences and electronic mail are necessary between these centers, as well as periodic international travel to explore technical issues. To successfully compete in today’s global engineering market, individuals must develop and follow a career plan. The key elements include a life-long learning plan to maintain and expand technology skills, the ability to embrace continual workplace changes, the gaining of international skills, and a crucial need for professional engineering registration. In this article, some of the major workplace issues facing engineers are discussed with recommended steps to ensure that their skills and contributions maintain pace with engineers around the world throughout their careers.

1. Introduction

The intense competition among corporations around the world to increase their share of North American, European, South American, and Pacific Rim consumer markets is profoundly altering business activities. The global economic challenges faced by American manufacturing companies during the past decade has impacted their technical staffs through new workplace attitudes, paradigm shifts, and engineering challenges. Vanishing are those positions where a new engineer could enter a company, rely primarily on those academic skills acquired in a bachelor of science engineering program, and reside in the same facility throughout one’s career. The competition has forced companies to constantly review their engineering, manufacturing, and support processes to reduce costs. Furthermore, the need to establish a presence in overseas markets has accelerated the placement of manufacturing operations in foreign countries to meet local content requirements. Truly, the workplace is undergoing dramatic changes [1]. Today’s engineering landscape requires a revised set of technical and interpersonal skills. American engineers are increasingly interacting with engineers from different countries, learning foreign languages to conduct business worldwide, and accommodating international travel/relocation. To maintain a healthy professional career, individuals must commit to a life-

Wagner, J. R. (1999, June), Evolving Industry Expectations For Engineers: The Impact Of Global Manufacturing Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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