As often as the field of engineering changes, it’s equally important that engineers continue to evolve, too. Engaging in professional development practices can keep engineers competitive in the market, as well as improve their work and final product.
So, how can engineers stay ahead in such a dynamic field? Keep reading to discover how to learn more information faster and better, market your ideas more effectively, and become more creative.
1. Learn More, Faster
Engineers are practically required to be lifelong learners, as the field changes so rapidly. However, learning a new skill or technology can be time consuming, and keeping up with each industry’s latest developments can be difficult.
Luckily, there are a handful of hacks to learn faster and better. Engineers can start by deconstructing the skill or tool into smaller steps that are easier to learn, eventually piecing it all together as a whole. This process, known as “chunking,”  not only improves memory, but can also help you better identify the importance behind each piece and fuel more creativity.
For instance, when learning to design in CAD or learning new software packages, it may be easier to break the process up by different commands or capabilities, rather than learn everything in one session.
While it may seem cliché, practice really does make perfect. Once broken up into smaller steps, engineers can focus on learning the skill or technology by practicing it during their downtime. However, the key is to also minimize distractions: by committing your complete attention to the new skill you’re trying to learn, you’re then more likely to pick it up faster.
2. Market Your Ideas
Engineers need to practice presentation skills when it comes time to sell their ideas to audiences. When engineers present their ideas or products, they’re ultimately asking their audience to either invest money or time in them. Being able to market ideas effectively will translate to better understanding and more professional presentations, which will reinforce why an audience should care about your proposal.
To start, engineers can get to know their audiences better  by learning what they already know about the subject or problem, and then determining what learning style would be the most effective. By asking these questions early on, engineers can present their proposal and include the points that would be most relevant and interesting to that particular audience.
Incorporating some type of competitive edge will not only improve your overall presentation, but will also help convince audiences why your proposal is the one they should choose. This edge could include competitive prices, superior or novel creativity in your work, or speed to market.
Ultimately, audiences are looking to invest either time or money into your final product, so weaving in unique selling points will improve your presentation and may be a deciding factor in winning someone’s business.
3. Enhance Your Creativity
Although engineering is an already creative field, even engineers can hit roadblocks where it feels as though they’ve exhausted all of their ideas. While there are a ton of ways to improve creativity,  sometimes all you need are a few good ones to spark a fresh idea.
A common, but historically successful, method is to keep a doodle pad. Some of the world’s most innovative thinkers—like Steve Jobs—kept a doodle book when they needed to trigger creativity.  Research has shown that doodling regularly can cause cognitive breakthroughs, enhance memory and keep you more engaged with your work.
Similarly, switching up your environment and moving around to work in different spaces can also cause creative breakthroughs. Physical activity, like stepping away from the desk and going for a walk, has been linked to more creative thoughts.
Engineering is a fast-moving field, with new technology and challenges arising each day. For engineers to stay competitive and get the most out of their field, it’s important they to develop by learning faster and better, marketing their ideas and boosting their creativity.
Do you have any secrets that have boosted your own professional development?