Engineering for the 21st Century


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This is the opening lecture to a course called The Entrepreneurial Engineer ( It surveys the personal, interpersonal, and organizational skills necessary in a world of opportunity.

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Engineering for the 21st Century

  1. 1. The Entrepreneurial Engineer: Personal, Interpersonal, and Organizational Skills for Engineers in a World of Opportunity Module 1: Engineering for the 21 st Century David E. Goldberg University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Urbana, Illinois 61801 [email_address]
  2. 2. Welcome to TEE <ul><li>TEE = The Entrepreneurial Engineer </li></ul><ul><li>TEE is </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A set of lectures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A book </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A blog: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An attitude about the world we live in </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fast-paced world is changing what engineers think and do. </li></ul>
  3. 3. My Background <ul><li>BSE & MSE in early 70s at Michigan. </li></ul><ul><li>Worked in small startup in 1976. </li></ul><ul><li>Returned to school for PhD. </li></ul><ul><li>Sidetracked by research/teaching career at Alabama and Illinois. </li></ul><ul><li>Better known work on genetic algorithms and computational innovation. </li></ul><ul><li>Currently Jerry S. Dobrovolny Distinguished Professor in Entrepreneurial Engineering. </li></ul><ul><li>Chief Scientist for Nextumi, . </li></ul><ul><li>Broadly interested in history, philosophy, business & economics. </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Times They Are a Changin’ Bob Dylan, b. 1941 <ul><ul><li>Be concerned with market-tech-societal feasibility. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be concerned largely with tech feasibility. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work & be evaluated on interdisciplinary teams. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work and be judged as individuals. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work for a number of firms of different sizes and maturity. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work for one large employer for life. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work as engineers & non-engineers. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work as engineers. </li></ul></ul>Engineering students today Engineering students used to
  5. 5. This Module <ul><li>Examine forces shaping a new entrepreneurial engineer. </li></ul><ul><li>Beyond tech: Order 1, 2, & n skills. </li></ul><ul><li>10 competencies for the entrepreneurial engineer. </li></ul><ul><li>4 methods: common sense, humanities, social science, engineering. </li></ul><ul><li>3 principles: Engagement, create-then-criticize, other eyes. </li></ul><ul><li>3 cautions: ideals beware, obvious isn’t easy, practice makes perfect. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Cold War vs. 21 st Century <ul><li>In the Cold War: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Large, centralized organizations. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many specialties under one roof. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Engineering work specialized & mainly technical. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Today </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Spread of information technology. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduction in transaction costs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Results in smaller world with smaller, more agile organizations. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Needs broadly capable engineers oriented toward opportunity. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. “Entrepreneurial Engineer?” <ul><li>Broad usage of the term “entrepreneurial.” </li></ul><ul><li>Not referring to a type of company. </li></ul><ul><li>Entrepreneurial engineers can work for </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Small startups (startup entrepreneur). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Large extant organizations (intrapreneur). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Entrepreneurial is a state of mind: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Orientation toward opportunity. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intellectual, financial, organizational arbitrage. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Order 1, 2, & n Skills <ul><li>Engineering education concentrates on building technical competence. </li></ul><ul><li>Need many non-technical skills to be broadly competent: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Order 1: Personal skills. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Order 2: Interpersonal skills, between you and another. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Order n : Organizational skills, between you and the many. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Ten Competencies <ul><li>The joy of engineering </li></ul><ul><li>Money & you: engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Time management </li></ul><ul><li>Write for your life </li></ul><ul><li>Present, don’t speak </li></ul><ul><li>The human side of engineering </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics in matters small, large, and engineering </li></ul><ul><li>Master the pervasive team </li></ul><ul><li>Organizations and leadership </li></ul><ul><li>Technology opportunity assessment </li></ul>
  10. 10. Joy of Engineering <ul><li>Engineering is a great education: Liberal arts education for 21 st century. </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering is a great profession: Action oriented, but based on thought, involves and affects people. </li></ul><ul><li>Some Tensions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tug of science </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tug of business </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Golden mean the key. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Money, Work & You <ul><li>Engineers often interested in money. </li></ul><ul><li>Who gets rich and why? </li></ul><ul><li>Interestingly engagement is path to wealth. </li></ul><ul><li>Do what you love and the money may follow. </li></ul><ul><li>What are your values, life mission, and objectives? </li></ul>
  12. 12. Mastering Time and Space <ul><li>Mastering values, mission, and objectives is strategic personal plan. </li></ul><ul><li>Tactically, must master time and space. </li></ul><ul><li>The challenge of time: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to waste. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-renewable resource. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tools: calendar, to-do list, and systematic filing system. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Write for Your Life <ul><li>Many engineers don’t like to write, but most engineers write a lot: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E-mails, memos, reports. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Specs, proposals, contracts. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need good process and content: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Write first, then revise: Freewriting exercise. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>B-P-R: background, purpose, roadmap. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lists & amplification. </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Present, Don’t Speak <ul><li>No speeches need apply. </li></ul><ul><li>Presentations (*.ppt): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Talks supported by ppt slides or transparencies. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organization: B-P-R again. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lists and more lists. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transparency speak. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Miller rule: 7 ± 2 elements. </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Human Side of Engineering <ul><li>Engineers build models of things. </li></ul><ul><li>Engineers can build model of people, too. </li></ul><ul><li>Key model: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>See matters through the eyes of others. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disagreements as differences in perception. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Role of questions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We are all salesmen. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Praise, criticism, and passion. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Ethics in Matters Small, Large & Engineering <ul><li>Odd that students find ethics boring: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Corporate shenanigans are up. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Copying of Intellectual property rampant. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cheating is up. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Golden rules: positive & negative. </li></ul><ul><li>Whence right & wrong: 5 theories. </li></ul><ul><li>Moral theory to practice: authority, conformity & practice. </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering ethics: codes & conflicts. </li></ul>Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
  17. 17. The Pervasive Team <ul><li>Engineers work as part of teams. </li></ul><ul><li>But teamwork is hard: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication grows as square of team size. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Balancing decision making and doing is hard. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cooperation thwarted by prisoner’s dilemma. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ground rules for shared expectations. </li></ul><ul><li>Reorganize for effective meeting dynamics. </li></ul><ul><li>Groups vs. teams: Accountable for important mission. </li></ul><ul><li>Brainstorming & creativity: How do we concoct solutions as individuals and in groups. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Organizations & Leadership <ul><li>Why do we join organizations? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Economic answer: Transaction costs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Psychological answer: Accumulated status. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduced transaction costs, change jobs more often: free agency. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Motivation, Maslow, & Theory X & Y. </li></ul><ul><li>Recognizing great companies: From Good to Great. </li></ul><ul><li>Recognizing Δ cultures: Gods of Management. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Assessing Tech Opportunities <ul><li>What is opportunity? Realizable difference between what should be and what is. </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainable competitive advantage. </li></ul><ul><li>What is your niche? </li></ul><ul><li>3 Financial mysteries: fear of financials, breaking even, time value of money. </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunity assessment as mini-B-plan exec summary, tech description, market, prelim financials, action plan. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Four Methods <ul><li>Common sense & critical reasoning. </li></ul><ul><li>Humanities: historical & philosophical modes of thought. </li></ul><ul><li>Social science: economics & psychology. </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering: Little quantitative models + empirical observation + inventiveness. </li></ul>Aristotle (384-322 BCE)
  21. 21. Three Principles <ul><li>Engagement. </li></ul><ul><li>Create first; criticize later. </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze and design behavior through the eyes of others. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Engagement <ul><li>Doing for intrinsic rewards of the activity: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Time flies when you’re having fun. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Would do without getting paid. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2 ways: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Engage in activities you like. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Find engagement in all activities. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Complexity of the activity fascinates: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiple facets and levels. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mastery tests breadth of capability. </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Create First, Criticize Later <ul><li>Criticism easily becomes default mode of thought. </li></ul><ul><li>Stifles creativity by preventing many ideas: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fluency: many ideas. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flexibility: diverse ideas. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Let ideas out; then, criticize to refine and make practical. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Eyes of Others <ul><li>Golden rules ask us to see things through eyes of others and act accordingly. </li></ul><ul><li>We act easily in our own interests. </li></ul><ul><li>To understand interests of others, put yourself in their shoes. </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to say, hard to do. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Three Cautions <ul><li>Be realistic in application of ideals. </li></ul><ul><li>Mastering the obvious isn’t easy. </li></ul><ul><li>Engage the material and put it to practice. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Cautious in Using Ideals <ul><li>Ideals provide way to model better future state, personally or organizationally. </li></ul><ul><li>But most individuals and organizations are far from ideal. </li></ul><ul><li>Rookies will see difference between reality and ideal and become discouraged. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t play “ain’t it awful.” </li></ul><ul><li>Use ideals as guides, not despair. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Mastering Obvious Isn’t Easy <ul><li>Personal, interpersonal, and organizational skills seem “obvious” to some. </li></ul><ul><li>Mastering obvious isn’t easy. </li></ul><ul><li>Mastery of high-level facet mistaken for detail: golf as an example. </li></ul><ul><li>Always something to learn about complex task. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Need for Practice <ul><li>Old joke about Carnegie Hall. </li></ul><ul><li>Practice, practice, & practice. </li></ul><ul><li>Material in this course must be </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Engaged & </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Put into practice. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Let’s get to it. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Summary <ul><li>Fast-paced world of change creates opportunities. </li></ul><ul><li>Entrepreneurial as a state of mind. </li></ul><ul><li>10 competencies for the entrepreneurial engineer. </li></ul><ul><li>3 principles. </li></ul><ul><li>4 methods. </li></ul><ul><li>3 cautions. </li></ul>