An Engineering Education Should Never End

Jul 11, 2018

by Eric Butterman ASME.org

You might have received your degree years ago, but every engineer knows that his or her education never really ends. In fact, professional development hours credits are a requirement in many states.

Beyond those requirements, engineers at all stages of their career can gain additional advantages and improve their skills through continuing education classes. Sometimes, however, it’s difficult to decide which courses to take.

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“To me, it often starts with business skills,” says Edward Brunet, Jr., who received his mechanical engineering degree from the University of New Orleans and is the founder of PDHengineer.com, which offers continuing education courses for engineers. Looking back on his own career, Brunet says a course on project management at the earlier part of mid-career would have been among the most beneficial. “Many engineers can design, but they could use help organizing,” he says.

Brunet points out that many engineers find themselves in a managerial role as they enter mid-career. “It may not be why you went into engineering, but you can’t always avoid it,” he says.

It also makes sense to consider the size of your company is when choosing a continuing education course. While you may have a sizable legal department in a huge company, in a small one, it’s a different story.

“Here’s where taking courses on legal issues in engineering or one that just focuses on contracts can come in handy,” says Brunet, who was a senior mechanical engineer for Waldemar S. Nelson and Company, with a focus on oil industry issues. “It doesn’t mean a lawyer won’t be consulted, but you could limit the amount of time they have to be used.”

Another advantage of continuing education is that it may help engineers learn new technologies and skills that younger employees bring to the table. Mid- or late-career engineers might feel more comfortable learning those in a continuing education class than requesting the training at work.

Brunet’s last continuing education tip? Be open-minded.

“You may think you know everything, but there are always new things to learn,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be about a requirement—it can just be about becoming the engineer you want to be, the one you know you really canbe.”

Eric Butterman is an independent writer.

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It doesn’t have to be about a requirement—it can just be about becoming the engineer you want to be, the one you know you really can be. Edward Brunet, founder, PDHengineer.com