To gain effectiveness in the world of mechanical engineering, engineers need to be abreast with the updates within this field. The mechanical engineering field is always evolving, with new things frequently sprouting. As such, it is expected that the engineers should be consistent with these changes; otherwise, they may be misinformed or lack adequate details to deal with the new things. Lifelong learning is a means through which engineers and other professionals can enhance their knowledge and skills connected to their professions. This paper will elaborate on the meaning of the term life long and its application in engineering. Furthermore, the paper will exploit the importance of lifelong, its advantages, and the challenges faced in its application in mechanical engineering. It will further involve detailed research involving specific mechanical engineering concepts.
Lifelong Learning Definition
Lifelong learning is a continuous process of building skills and knowledge throughout the professional life of an individual. In the engineering field, it is clear that competition and discovering new things and concepts are the main influencers of lifelong learning. For instance, in countries such as the United States and Japan, engineers continuously extend the technology already in existence as they discover new ones. Such spirit encourages the involved engineers in the process of fetching and adds knowledge for the overall benefit of companies and the country (Bonilla, 2012).
Opportunities by Professional Societies
The National Academy of Engineering (2013) for engineers created an opportunity to examine up-to-date professional practices. The opportunity was named a Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering (National Academy of Engineering, 2013). It opened up a channel for the engineers to perceive the underlying strategies used to address unmet needs in the world of engineering. In 2009, the initiative organized a workshop meant to create a path for engineers to follow in their quest to keep up with the ever-changing technological details. Moreover, the workshop established a viable strategy for encouraging a competent workforce in engineering through lifelong learning (DiDomenico, 2010).
Frank von Flue Award is an initiative commenced in 2002 under the American Society for Mechanical Engineering to encourage lifelong learning in mechanical engineering (ASME Intl., 2013). The award is presented to people who have added recognizable value to the lifelong learning process. This is yet another vital opportunity that has paved the ways for engineers to seek more knowledge and skills that pertain to their fields of work. The award is an encouraging factor that boosts the zeal for the engineers to push towards acquiring new knowledge about a subject matter, come up with new inventions that change the world of engineering.
An article by Sandra Courter (n.d.) and other authors recognizes the importance behind lifelong learning in engineering, which includes helping one recall a fact, theory or concept, also known as declarative knowledge. Lifelong learning in engineering also creates the knowledge used in various procedures and engineers familiarizes with the application concept. It is also necessary for engineers to know when to apply such crucial knowledge in the world of engineering. Keeping up with the trend is crucial since things are always changing. The software world is one of the most rapidly changing fields; thus, it forces the engineers to keep updating their knowledge and skills lest they are termed as outdated. Engineers can seize the aforementioned opportunities to develop skills and up to date knowledge that is related to the evolving trends in engineering (Courter, Anderson, McGlamery, NathansKelly, and Nicometo, n.d.).
A book compiled by the International Labour Organization (2002) informs of how engineering schools introduced education systems that impart workplace skills that relate to the changing technological world. Many people graduate from such schools with the knowledge that the field they are working in is ever changing; thus, it is essential to keep in touch with such matters through lifelong learning. Several countries take it upon themselves to deliver skills in the school curriculum through hands-on training in current technical developments. In turn, students have self-awareness about matters relating to their evolving engineering world upon graduating from a course, but at least they are equipped with the latest knowledge and skills.
The American Society of Civil Engineering (2013) perceives the importance of lifelong learning in engineering and offers mentorship programs. Sequentially, after one completes the course, they can be mentored throughout their careers and it such an opportunity that one keeps up with the changing bits in the world of engineering. In her article, Professor Lisa A. Pruitt (n.d.) recognizes the importance of seeking mentorship while either in school or after completing the course. It is necessary for engineers to have a guide or a mentor, to feed them with the correct information concerning the new trends. It is also vital to direct them towards learning new skills and discovering products that are up-to-date with life.
Importance of Lifelong Learning
Lifelong learning has proven to be an essential part of the engineering world among other professions in various ways. The most common importance of executing lifelong learning is developing up-to-date knowledge and skills. Mechanical engineering is associated with technology development, which always evolves in various ways, for example, creating improved and more complex products. Therefore, engineers must maintain the trend to be informed and focused. This learning process is a way that engineers keep the world of technology developing and producing aspects that can make the world a better place than it was (EE Times, 2012).
Lifelong learning is a continuous process encouraged among several professions, including engineering, where the professionals keep an update of their work throughout their lives. Indeed, the process is extensively helpful, but it comes with various challenges such as difficulty in keeping up with the changes, which is expected of all the engineers. This is a fast changing world and keeping up is proving to be tough, although it is necessary. However, utilizing the provided opportunities, mechanical engineers, for instance, keep in line with the changes. Lifelong learning has proven to be an inevitable process as long engineers embrace hard work because they have to move with the changes. Professional societies have recognized the need to step in and encourage lifelong learning through various processes, which include seminars and workshops. The engineers attain the necessary knowledge and skills to keep advancing their profession. Many are the organizations and schools that offer their members avenues to improve their skills and knowledge through lifelong learning.
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American Society of Civil Engineers. (2013). Career development. Retrieved on 10 December 2013 from http://www.asce.org/Content.aspx?id=15154
Pruitt, A. L. (n.d.). Summary of engineering education activities. Retrieved on 10 December 2013 from http://me.berkeley.edu/new/students/diversity/PruittOutreach.pdf
National Academy of Engineering. (2013). Lifelong learning imperative in engineering. Retrieved on 10 December 2013 from http://www.nae.edu/Projects/CASEE/26338/26533.aspx
Courter, S. Anderson, K., McGlamery, T., NathansKelly, T. and Nicometo, C. (n.d.). How people learn engineering. Retrieved on 10 December 2013 from http://www.cirtl.net/files/Lifelong_Learning.pdf
ASME Intl. (2013). Frank von Flue Award. Retrieved on 10 December 2013 from https://www.asme.org/about-asme/participate/honors-awards/achievement-awards/frank-von-flue-award
International Labour Organization. (2002). Lifelong learning in the mechanical and electrical engineering industries. Danvers, MA: International Labour Organization.
Bonilla, L. E. (2012). Lifelong learning imperative in engineering. NASA. Retrieved on 10 December 2013 from http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oce/appel/ask-academy/issues/volume3/AA_3-4_F_lifelong.html
EE Times. (2012). Lifelong learning yields success in workforce. Retrieved on 10 December 2013 from http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=69&doc_id=1286422
DiDomenico, F. C. (2010). Lifelong learning, engineering and the community college. Retrieved on 10 December 2013 from http://www.indiana.edu/~ciec/Proceedings_2010/Papers/ETD/ETD443_DiDomenico.pdf