What do we do when we graduate from an undergraduate school? We either work full-time or we pretend to work; either way, being primarily responsible for every outcome in our lives. The journey that extends from two to four years of our undergraduate studies has a marked effect in shaping the type of professional that we will become in the future. But do we realize its importance?
I don’t know, at-least I am sure that I didn’t at the time (reasons are many). However, the students who did realize its importance were the ones who increased the probable chance of them becoming a better and more ‘industry ready’ employee than people like myself.
Being an engineering graduate for the last three years, I have experienced many facets of the industry, both good and bad. Compiled below are a snapshot of five areas/pieces of advice that I normally outline to juniors and those looking to progress themselves within the industry.
Creating, developing and managing a start-up
I believe every student should try creating and working on a start-up project while being undergraduate. The resultant success or failure is inconsequential, rather the experience alone will assist you in understanding business dynamics and how companies work. Terms like business plans, strategies, profit/loss, financial rations, shares/equity will become part of your lexicon. The benefits of undertaking such activities is limitless. It will give you a deeper understanding of what it takes to run a company and the importance and value of time and money and the correlation between them both.
Volunteering Officer Experience
My second piece of advice is to not underestimate the worth of volunteering experience. When I was in my undergraduate program, I was told to take part in local society/clubs and specifically IEEE student branch activities and programs to widen my experiences throughout my degree. Whilst I found these experiences emotionally beneficial, the leadership skills generated and refined cannot be denied.
Just by involving yourself into your IEEE Student branch, be it in a formal Chair position or even a committee member, such leadership skills are continuously being fostered. Having an understanding of what it takes to be an effective leader and the associated best practices to demonstrate this can have a marked effect at shaping the path of your own career.
Everyone can work, but not everyone is good at communicating
I wish, I could write a whole book on this topic, but already there are many published and available in the market emphasizing the importance of this characteristic. Being good at talking and communicating effectively can make you stand out in front of your office colleagues, even when your job role is purely technical in nature. You might wonder, what makes me a better employee if I am good at talking? – Consider this opportunity, and trust me it is a real time case where I have seen people realizing and accepting this bitter truth.
Let’s say there is a company called “Mango” which produces cellphones and similar products. You are a R&D Engineer or a Product Manager and you, alongside dozens of other team members, are working on this new software/product/project. You all work tirelessly on the project, and you put in extra hours because somehow your supervisor (who was in-fact good at talking), motivated you effectively that now you own this software/product/project and you take a sense of pride and ownership over it. Finally, you along with your team have made it and now the company is considering sending some employees to Silicon Valley where delegates will talk on its features and promote it as much as they can. Here, the one with acceptable technical skills and a great effective communication skills would be preferred over someone who is only technologically savvy. Why? Because at the end, it’s the talking that matters.
Why waste time on polishing your speaking skills after you have finished graduating? These skills should be enriched and developed throughout your education!
Ways to improve your communication skills can include actively participating in IEEE Student branch/Local section events and partaking or joining professional organisations such as Toastmasters etc.
Writing is as important as speaking
When it comes to writing a formal email, or a preparing a project report or writing an application to a client/manager/supervisor, it seems that many talented individuals feel helpless to do so. It’s not that you cannot write it, or you do not know how to write it, it’s all about practice. The more you do the faster you will improve and better yourself at it.
It is often very important that your language skills are of a high standard as little subtleties such as tone and message can often be misconstrued in the written form. Sending vague electronic emails are a typical example in the industry that can lead to potential problems for workers and managers alike.
Internships: As much as you can
Attaining an internship in your Summer or Winter gaps is very important, as it offers you a chance to work and recognize the rules and techniques of being a full professional employee in a national or multi-national organization. Care less about the company and what it does but join it with the aim to feel a corporate responsibility and immerse yourself into the organizational environment. Focus more on learning from an individual rather than company itself.
I have seen students in the past trying to get an internship and not joining-in because the company profile is low or it is not of their interest. What they completely miss out on is the point where they can study human behavior, office politics (surely most of them do have) and working cycle that can open-up new dimensions and can yield thoughts to see avenues that they haven’t seen before in their professional life. Get into internships as much as you can. I completed four internships and every company had a different culture, environment and learnings. I also met some very intellectual people working for the various companies whom I still connect with to this day. The networking opportunities and gateways that are opened up are endless.
Consider your undergraduate time the most valuable phase of your life, where if you indulged into activities and programs that can nurture your personal and professional development, the results and benefits once you graduate are limitless.
Try to foresee your future by investing your time, energy and efforts into something that can grow as an asset for you in future. Don’t just spend your time, invest in it.
Article contributed by Sarang Shaikh, Editor, IEEE Impact
It was not long ago that we reported on IEEE Young Professionals in Iraq and their struggles. With this article we wanted to update all IEEE members on the situation there and some their activities. Despite the raging war and instability our IEEE members are still making the best of their time.
IEEE Iraq section and Young Professionals team in collaboration with American University of Iraq, Sulaimaniya (AUIS) ran a scientific workshop in late October based on the topic of “Robotics Sciences”. The purpose of the workshop was to gather all robotics experts and students to share the latest developments in the field. The workshop was conducted in coordination with IEEE Iraq Section represented by Dr. Eng. Sattar B. Sadkhan, Vice chairman of IEEE in Iraq who emphasised the importance of IEEE Robotics society, benefits of being IEEE member to motivate new students of AUIS to join IEEE family. The importance of robotics in disaster recovery was also discussed. Mr. Suhail Al-Awis, IEEE Young Professional and doctoral Candidate from University of Technology, presented the on the use of neural networks in robotics and explained the concept around the investment into neural networks in the implementation of autonomous vehicles.
The topics covered advanced concepts and applications of robotics in general and the role of IEEE in supporting local activities in this field. The interaction created stimulating discussions as well as brainstorming for possible future collaborations and activities in the field of robotics.
The event was concluded with celebrations of IEEE Day 2015. All attendees shared the special IEEE cake in spirit to encourage new volunteers in serving the society by scientific or humanitarian activities which reflect. So dear friends of IEEE, we are well and we are continuing to operate with smiles on our faces. We will continue to contribute in developing technology for the advancement of humanity.
Networking is one of the most powerful and useful acts an individual can undertake to advance their career. Your network can help you build visibility, connect you with influencers, and create new opportunities. However, as professionals who work in technology development and management we often overlook the importance of this attribute. Given that I was born in the 1980’s, I can clearly remember the widespread usage of the internet and some of the basic social functionality that emerged. In the last 5 to 10 years we have been swamped with online portals that offer alternatives to face to face networking such as Linkedin. In today’s article I will dissect networking and why I believe the face to face approach is still the key to success, provide you with six points of advice to hit the ground running and a few useful online sources.
Be strategic about your networking (Image courtesy: http://spotcard.co/)
Networking in simple terms is an information exchange between you and another individual with a focus of establishing relationships with people who can help you achieve a particular goal; including advancing your career.
A networking contact could result in one of the following:
Intimate information on the latest in your field of interest (IEEE technical society is a good example) or information about an organization’s plan to expand operations or release a new product.
Job search advice specific to your field of interest (where the jobs are typically listed).
Tips on your job hunting tools (resume, cover letter and /or design portfolio).
Names of people to contact about possible employment or information.
Follow-up interview and a possible job offer
Who is in my network?
Developing your network is easy because you know more people than you think you know, and if you don’t then you really should get out there and start meeting people. Networking is the linking together of individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another.
Your family, friends, room mates, partners, university academics and staff, alumni, past and present co-workers, neighbours, club and organization and association members, people at the gym, people at the local cafe and neighbourhood store, and people in your sports club.
These people are all part of your current network, professional and personal. Keep an on-going list of the names and contact information of the people in your network. Ask your contacts to introduce you to their contacts and keep expanding your list. Opportunities to network with people arise at any time and any place. Never underestimate an opportunity to make a connection.
Who is in your network? “Start a conversation and see where it leads you to” says Dr. Eddie Custovic
Online vs Offline?
There are a number of social networking sites where you can make great professional contacts, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. You can also use discussion groups such as blogs, newsgroups, and chat rooms to network online. IEEE Collabratec is a fantastic integrated online community where technology professionals can network, collaborate, and create – all in one central hub. This will help you discover the hot issues in your field of interest, post questions, and find out about specific job openings that are not otherwise posted to the general public.
“The digital arena has shown much promise in terms of networking. It is convenient, universally accessible and very quick. The 21st century human is impatient and demands results at the snap of a finger. While online networking is a big part of relationship-building nowadays, it is only one part of relationship/partnership building. Face-to-face interaction still offers a host of real, unique advantages – which you should not brush aside easily. Trust, transparency and momentum behind strong business relationships emerge as a result of sharing a physical presence. Online interaction of whatever format it may be can’t provide this. It can’t simulate the reassuring grip of a confident handshake, or the positive energy of experiences, values, and interests shared face to face. These things can only unfold by interacting in person. Because of that exclusive context, live networking can be a valuable opportunity to help keep you ahead of the game.”
The power of personally connecting and human interaction accelerates relationship building. In 10 minutes I can know more about someone, or they about me, in person than in several months online. However, you must also keep in mind that online and offline complement each other. If I meet you online and strike up an online relationship that has value and interest to me, then taking it offline is going to enhance and progress that relationship. If we meet in person, then staying connected online is going to enhance and progress our relationship until we meet in person again.
Online / Offline networking? Or something in between? (Image courtesy: http://www.wall321.com/)
Another thing worth noting is that the new generation of young professionals has become heavily online dependent and often lack a strong face to face networking approach. It is easy to sit behind the computer and type questions but one must have the confidence to do the same in real life. By ensuring you have the face to face element covered also means that you are one step ahead of the pack!
Get out there, start a conversation and make it happen!
If you haven’t been out and about enough, make some goals this year to reconnect in person in your community, business world or hobbies. Go where you already have commonality and know people. It’s much easier and faster to get connected, get personal and make some new friends, connections and you just might get that job, interview, or new customer. Once you feel comfortable with your ability to strike up a conversation then you may want to consider meetup.com as a way of growing your network.
Want to learn how to network? The IEEE Young Professionals can help.
Here are some strategic tips on how leverage networking to maximise outcomes:
Be strategic about your networking – Strategic networking is more than just socializing and swapping business cards, it is about developing relationships to support your career aspirations. It takes focus and intention to build such a network, but it’s invaluable for your professional development. Identify who you know and who you need to know to help you reach your career goal and build a power network to support your advancement.
The power of diversity – Move out of your comfort zone and identify people who can help your career, not just those people you like and the people who can immediately be of benefit.
Be proactive – Networking is not something that we do and then sit on the shelf. It must be done proactively. Ask yourself this “If you were to lose your job tomorrow are you confident that your current network would be able to help you bounce back and start lining up interviews for new roles?” If the answer is no then It will most likely take you much longer to find a new position. And how can you get information about a hiring manager or new boss if you don’t have a network of people to provide that information? As fantastic as some of job sites are, remember that you are not the only one online looking at job adverts. A majority of jobs don’t make it to the websites and are filled through a powerful network.
Follow up– Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honour that and your referrals will grow. It’s often said that networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. If you’ve had a great exchange, ask your conversation partner the best way to stay in touch. Some people like email or phone; others prefer online sites such as LinkedIn. Get in touch within 48 hours of the event to show you’re interested and available, and reference something you discussed, so your contact remembers you.
Volunteer in organizations – A great way to increase your visibility and give back to groups that have helped you. This is one of the first tips that I give to my students and it is often right in front of you.
Be interested, stay focused – The best way to network is to show interest in what others have to say. People will be more likely to trust you because they’ll know it’s not all about you. In this process you will also uncover new information that can lead to favourable outcomes. You don’t know what you don’t know. So what’s the best way to learn more? Step away from your desk and do something, see something, read something or listen to something/someone that has nothing to do with your work. Do something that has nothing to do with what you know.
You network will quickly become a web of intertwined relationships that can be a very powerful tool in advancing your career. In conclusion, don’t underestimate what networking can do for you. Your network is your net worth.
Some useful networking tools for your career:
assessment.com/ – An online career assessment that identifies how one best fits in the workplace
efactor.com/ – An online community and virtual marketplace designed for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs.
Tamas Haidegger is the CEO/CTO of Hand-in- Scan & Adjunct Professor at Obuda University in Hungary Budapest. He is highly active within IEEE through the Robotics and Automation Society and currently representing Young Professionals. We interviewed him today to find out more about his research and his startup product Hand-in-Scan. Here is what he had to say to the Young Professionals around the world:
Hand-in-Scan’s CEO Tamas Haidegger was awarded the prestigious Dennis Gabor award in the Hungarian Parliament for his entrepreneurial achievements
Your Research is in the field of Long Distance Teleportation control. Could you elaborate on this?
I was very interested in Space Robotics and through a Physician colleague, who asked questions about the possibility about performing long distance surgery in space, my interest in this area increased. Despite the fact that surgical robotics started in 1975 with the aim to support Astronauts, there was no research on the physical consequences of space travel. Hence I chose the topic of my thesis to be the feasibility of such analysis and whether tele surgery will be possible.
Could you tell us more about the field of Long Distance teleportation control?
The field of Long Distance teleportation control became a hot topic in research when tele robotics became possible. There are a lot of transatlantic and transcontinental robotic research experiments that are undertaken in this area today. In the meantime, I still think that it is very extreme and the more we think about going to the moon and shooting from Mars the more interesting the area is becoming.
How did the idea of Hand-in-Scan come about?
The idea of Hand-in-Scan came from one of my students who worked in hospitals. He researched the process doctors and nurses sanitized their hands after surgery. There are a lot of market products but when not used properly can cause infections which actually happens more times than we know of. In the western world, statistics also say that about 200,000 people die because of secondary infections they receive at hospitals during getting a treatment. Hand-in-Scan is an engineering machine which scans hands to point out the missed areas after regular sanitization is done. There is also a reporting function in the machine which sends reports and statistics to the management for analysis to make sure that processes are running correctly.
When you had the Hand-in-Scan idea, how did you know that you wanted to turn it into an entrepreneurial opportunity?
For me, I definitely think that it was an evolution more than a revolution for me and initially I tried to acquire some research grants and some funding for this project but after struggling for a couple of years, we decided to run it as a business. And we had to really change our mindset from Academic to business oriented.
Could you share your experience working with the World Health Organization WHO in relation to the Hand-in-Scan product?
WHO has a special patient safety group consisting of users and companies who devote a lot of their time, energy and money to improve the standards of patient safety. One subgroup or committee is the hand hygiene group which consists of companies selling hand hygiene products and solutions and we are a part of that community and try to contribute towards better patient care.
With doing research, managing a company and teaching, how do you manage your time?
Excellence in research involves good methodology, very thorough basic knowledge and good people you work with can really make you successful in research and this can be translated into good startups. Teaching has provided me with the sales skills required to run this startup successfully. Also because the company is embedded into the university itself, management is something that I think I am doing well.
Where do you see yourself working in Technology in the future, while also working at the university?
I think the technology transfer process from university is a very interesting one because I think brilliant students deserve a chance to make their ideas a reality and university can help with translating some ideas into businesses if not all. And I think that is a very exciting future for students.
What role has IEEE played in your career so far?
Starting with 10 years ago, we were organizing small IEEE chapter events, organizing competitions and exchange programs for local students. I did not only get in involved in organizing events but also getting involved in community. Since then, throughout many years, I have attended many IEEE conferences and I developed strong professional connections which helped me in numerous ways. One of the best thing was that I met the best people in my field and once I got to know them, I could ask them questions any time and they assisted me all along. On the other side, IEEE does a lot of work in the business outreach direction as well. I gained a lot of regulatory knowledge from this which I used during the development of my project.
How has your experience been so far and do you have any special moments you wish to share with us?
I have a lot special moments working so far and I think if you cannot enjoy your work, then you need to change it. Two key messages that I really live by and would like to share with young professionals worldwide are that if you can enjoy your job, you will never have to work your entire life and that get smarter people aboard and make them excited about your problem. And this will help you be creative both in academic and business.
So what is your message to young robotics professionals around the world? What can they look forward to in the future in Robotics?
This field is growing immensely and the rise of new systems and new companies is unprecedented. The Robotics and Automation society grew from 9000 members to over 12000 members now and I am not talking about amateur member students, but professionals who are currently working in this field. Robotics is integrating into my life increasingly. So this is a good time to join if you are interested, more over if you have an idea which has not been explored before, you can get paid to actually get it into fruition by forming a team.
The team at Young Professionals thanks Tamas for this amazing insight into the world of Robotics. It sure is a field that is growing tremendously and is always hungry for more innovation.
Interview conducted by Shashank Gaur, IEEE Young Professionals
Interview transcribed by Sneha Kangralkar, Assistant Editor, IEEE IMPACT
It is 9 am Monday morning and for many people it is a day just like every other. However, it is late September and in the southern hemisphere (in my case Australia) it is summer internship application period. During the last two weeks of September I will meet with dozens of students looking to secure one of many highly competitive work experience positions. My inbox is flooded with emails related to CV structure, cover letters, interview advice and if there is sufficient mention of projects/technical content in a job application. What I find in 99% of engineering and technology students is that their key sales point to industry tends be along the lines of “I am a good coder”, “I am a great electronics designer”, “I am an outstanding mechanical engineer”, “I am highly proficient in the use of CAD” and the list goes on. I think by now you get the point. Historically students in STEM careers have ignored the “soft skills”, often brushing them aside to hone in more of the tech crunch. The 21st century engineer can no longer expect to find jobs solely on their ability to solve problems.
“Stand out in the crowd with a well defined set of soft skills” says Dr. Eddie Custovic
In a recent survey 77 percent of employers surveyed by careerbuilder.com said they were seeking candidates with soft skills — and 16 percent of the respondents considered such qualities more crucial than hard skills. Soft skills relate to the way employees relate to and interact with other people. Another study conducted by Millennial Branding said employers ranked placed the most emphasis on: communication skills, a positive attitude and the ability to work in a team, all of which can be labelled soft skills or emotional intelligence. Hard skills, on the other hand, are teachable abilities or skill sets that are easy to quantify, such as a proficiency in a computer programming language. In today’s world employers have an expectancy that graduates will come to an organization already in possession of soft skills. When employees lack these basic soft skills, it can hurt the overall success of the organization.
While there are endless articles on which soft skills matter most, I have taken the liberty of creating a summary of 10 that are crucial:
1. Effectively managing your time and being organised Time management is one of those skills that we often feel we are failing at as students. Late assignments? Missing a class? Forgot to do your preliminary reading before a laboratory session? During your studies you will be introduced to the concept of project management which contains an element of time management. Your undergraduate degree should serve as a testing ground to hone in on your time management skills. 8 semesters of studies will allow you to experiment with different ways of keeping track of time. Some of you prefer keeping notes in a diary and others will use a digital diary/calendar to keep track of tasks. It is important that have time management and organizational skills that stand out. There is not much room to missing meetings and project deadlines when out in industry. Missing project deadlines can often have grave consequences for the organization you work for.
2. Working under pressure. Many of you have pulled an “all-nighter” during your undergraduate studies. Drinking red bull or coffee to give you that extra few hours of concentration need to complete an assignment or project. While learning good time management skills can help you minimize the frequency of these taxing situations, they are likely to occur from time to time in a demanding job. This is particularly true if you are wanting to make an impact early in your career.While “working smarter, not harder” is a term often thrown around, evidence shows that putting in the extra hours from time to time early in your career delivers results. You will not go unnoticed. It might come as a surprise that the ability to focus all your energy on something is a skill you often utilize in the workforce.
3. Being dependable. Employers value workers they can rely on to get the job done. There’s nothing better than an employee who is on time every time and is highly reliable. Your managers will be under enormous pressure to deliver outcomes. Having employees who can take on tasks with confidence can alleviate some of the pressure from management.
4. Being creative and innovative. Whether you are an IT professional or biomedical engineer, creativity is what sparks change in the workplace. Finding a unique solution and thinking outside of the box is what standout graduates do. During interviews you will most likely face questions such as “Please tell us about a time when you were assigned a tasks and how you dealt with it”. This is the time to demonstrate your creative thinking and ability to provide innovative/non conventional problem solving. The challenges we face in industry often require solutions that fall outside of what we normally expect to see. A great example of a large scale creative solution is the construction of the Burj-Khalifa tower in Dubai. To ensure the concrete of the mega structure cured properly, ice blocks were thrown into concrete and poured over night.
5. Voicing opinions while being open to feedback. Employees who are confident in their ideas but open to feedback can play influential roles in a workplace. During a brainstorming session, for example, such an employee would not only share ideas but also challenge others’ by asking thoughtful questions. This can create a stimulating discussion and even spark innovation. As a graduate you should ask yourself the following questions; Are you open to training and advice? If someone senior in the organization made a comment about your work (feedback), how would you react (defensive or acknowledge it)? Accepting negative feedback in a graceful manner speaks volumes about an individual and their character.
6. Solving problems. Especially for fast-paced organizations, strong employees can think critically and effectively solve problems. Are you generally a resourceful person? Even if you don’t have all the answers, would you be able to look for them? Know what to do? People who take ownership and are ready to own up their mistakes are highly regarded by the organisation. A typical question you will face during an interview in this area is: “Please provide an example of a time when you had to overcome a challenge in the workplace”. This will help a hiring manager gauge the candidate’s ability to solve problems, be resourceful and face obstacles at work.
7. Coaching and mentoring of co-workers. According to Millennial Branding report, 92 percent of employers value strong teamwork skills. Strong employees are individuals willing to help co-workers and coach them along the way. Let’s say a new employee has been hired and added to a group project. The new employee probably doesn’t have a clue about what’s going on yet. In this scenario, an employee who’s been on the team a while should take the new worker under his wing and coach the person through the new project.
8. Taking initiative. An employee demonstrates initiative by coming up with an idea and putting it into action. For example, an employee might develop an idea for social-media marketing campaign that will build awareness for the organization. Don’t always wait to be assigned a task, if you can see a problem take initiative to see how you can contribute in solving it.
9. Being flexible and focused. Deadlines and projects can change at a moment’s notice. Employees need to quickly adapt while remaining focused on meeting deadlines. For example, an employee may have just received an assignment and deadlines for the week. But Wednesday arrives and the manager decides everything needs to be shifted to arrive a day earlier. A flexible employee would be able to quickly adapt to these changes and focus on projects with top priority.
10. Developing new work processes. Employees with the ability to analyze work processes and discover new ways to complete them efficiently are valuable to employers. Not only does this save employers time, but it can also add to the bottom line.
Have other soft skills that you believe should be in this list? Let us know.
Article contributed by Dr. Eddie Custovic, Editor-in-Chief, IMPACT by IEEE Young Professionals
Continuing the tradition of Central European cross-section congresses, after Linz in 2011 and Opole in 2013, this time Central European Student and Young Professionals Congress (CEuSYP) was held in Croatia, from May 8 to 10, 2015, at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, Zagreb. This Congress edition was attended by 80 participants – student members and Young Professionals, as well as speakers, sections’ and Region 8 representatives from twelve IEEE Sections including Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, and Ukraine.
One of the main goals of the Congress was to bring students and young professionals together, increase the interest of students to remain volunteers after graduation and participate in the activities of their local Young Professional affinity groups. Special focus was also the transfer of knowledge to new volunteers, as well as recently established or reactivated student branches and Young Professionals affinity groups. However, what these congresses are really imbued with is the enormous amount of motivating energy sprouting from each young engineer and volunteer that reminds us of what keeps the world spinning. The greatest examples carried and spread this vigour all the way to the senior membership.
After the organizers welcoming speech, the opening of Congress was initiated by Mislav Grgic, the Dean of the Faculty and IEEE Croatia Section Chair and our special guests followed with their presentations: Margaretha Eriksson, Region 8 Director-Elect, and Christian Schmid, Region 8 Secretary, emphasising the importance of student and Young Professionals volunteers in the future of IEEE. The Congress program was filled with plenary sessions related to Young Professionals, Student, Technical, Professional and Educational activities, aiming to inform the participants about the breaking initiatives and programs. Interaction and teamwork were the centre of technical, volunteer and soft skills improving workshops. Participating student branches and affinity groups shared their significant and unique stories and exchanged ideas of activities or upcoming events and gave insights in new trends in science and technology.
After all, events like these are a great place to learn everything you ever wanted to know about IEEE, other student branches and young professional affinity groups, to make new international contacts and friendships, and to do it in the most fun and catchy way. Organisationally, it was a great intersection of our young professionals and students in the most collaborative, productive, interesting and joyful way.
You have your necessary engineering tertiary qualification; check!
You are a member of various engineering related organisations; check!
You are actively partaking in numerous co-curricular activities; check!
……. however you are struggling to ‘land’ that first job, relevant work experience and job ready skills.
This is the problem facing many current graduates from all over the world. I was not immune to what seems to be a common scenario in the industry today. I graduated from a leading university in Melbourne, Australia with an engineering degree, majoring in civil engineering. Although the construction and design industry has been vibrant over the last few years, I always found it difficult to obtain the exact skill employers apparently require; that being “experience”.
Every summer during my university vacation throughout my degree, I would try to arrange some form of relevant work experience while away from my studies. The work ranged from obtaining formal roles with local councils to enrolling in appropriate software CAD classes (for upskilling), in my spare time. Basically, I made it my mission to ensure that no employer at any interview could suggest that I supposedly “did not have enough experience”. While it is not entirely imperative that the work experience be in your exact field of study, I believe that it is important that all upcoming graduates attempt to immerse themselves in areas and experiences that allow for opportunities to build upon their transferable leadership, teamwork and self-responsibility skills.
University specific job sites and job boards are often a very good resource to use in order to find relevant opportunities for experience. Generic job sites often are ill-equipped to cater for the requirements often facing newly graduated and current engineering students. The following list highlights a few engineering specific job sites from around the world that should be visited by engineers, graduates, students and employers alike.
While not exclusive to showcasing engineering jobs, this job site should be visited by job seekers and those looking for experience. Region dependant, this site provides extra services such as resume guidance and help, together with career resources and insightful interview technique tips.
Hosted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, this site allows prospective employees to search for available positions based on the engineering and technology disciplines. The site is based in the United Kingdom, with the jobs primarily focussed toward this region. The site also allows for job seekers to connect with recruiters in the area who have an intimate knowledge of the specific working landscape.
EngineerJobs is one of the leading engineering job sites visited in the world. Attracting nearly 400,000 monthly visitors to the site, its users can filter search results based on a combination of criteria including engineering discipline and home city. There are approximately 300,000 jobs advertised on this site at any one time. This site is a great place for all prospective seekers from North America to begin their search. EngineerJobs also allows applicants to upload a copy of their resume for easy access from any potential recruiters.
Hosted by Webjobz, this website performs a search on available engineering specific job availabilities across Australia. The search function allows a search by job title, location and even company name. Although this site slightly favours the mechanical engineering discipline, the search results often provide a diverse mix of available jobs, with varying entry requirements.
EuroEngineeringJobs, as the name suggests, caters to prospective job searchers looking for roles in predominantly Europe. The built-in search function allows for job advertisements to be filtered by country or job field. In addition, job advertisements can be further sorted by the level of experience required; namely 0-2 years’ experience, 3-4 years’ experience, 5+ years’ experience and at the manager and executive level. An applicant’s CV and resume can also be uploaded into the job website and a job alert is provided when matched with criteria set by the user.
Engineering.com (don’t you love the name?) provides a search portal for various job listings, predominately located in the United States, Canada and even the United Arab Emirates. Focussing mainly on automotive and aerospace engineering, this job site sorts the job advertisements based on discipline. In addition, job seekers can access valuable resources on career tips and industry information.
The IEEE Job site provides access to a searchable database of jobs available in the electrical, electronic, engineering, computing and other IEEE related fields. The site also provides updates to the many upcoming career fairs and provides a dedicated job seeker tool to assist in building a proficient resume and CV. Internship and entry level jobs are separated on the site, allowing for more appropriate results to be displayed.
While not as widely known as some of the other tech industry job sites online, TechCareers.com offers nearly 200,000 tech and engineering jobs, as well as the ability to create your own career portfolio to attract interested businesses and recruiters.
Plenty of great job opportunities for those interested in electrical engineering. This site contains electronic and electrical engineering jobs ranging from microcontroller engineering, power distribution engineering to project management.
Today’s article comes to us from Region 8 and focuses on the organisation of student/young professional congresses. This thorough manual was put together by the wonderful volunteers of this region.
The Student and Young Professional Congress (SYP Congress) is an event that takes place every two years in Region 8. It gathers both student and young professional members from all Sections in the Region and it provides an opportunity to network and get to know over four hundred people from all over the world. During the Congress, a wide variety of workshops and lectures are organized, dealing with interesting topics in diverse technical fields and also related to soft skills. Organizing such an event provides the opportunity to gain many different skills, from teamwork to fundraising, as well as it increases the profile of the student branch at region level. In general terms, it will improve the organizers’ CV. One very important fact to be taken into account is that this congress is not a regular conference or business oriented event. It must be volunteering, where organizers are motivated by enjoying the experience of engaging with the larger IEEE community and providing IEEE members an exceptional event. Since it is volunteer based, things like subcontracting more services than the minimum needed or having a surplus in the final budget must be strongly avoided. This event takes place in only one student branch at a time, and it involves a lot of work for more than a year… but in the end the congress is an excellent experience that is completely worth it in terms of new friends and many awesome experiences, in both professional and personal scopes. Also, it gives the chance to strengthen the collaboration with the Young Professional Affinity Group. This document intends to be a guide for those who are thinking to apply to organize this Congress, and it will try to help in the organization process, from the very beginning to the very end. There are also many Cross-sectional Congresses that usually take place the year in between two Region congresses, and most of this document is also valid in the organization of those.
Motivation to organize a SYP Congress
Preparing the application
Organizing the congress
During the congress
After the congress
The full manual can be downloaded using the download image below
How do we use bacteria that can eat and breathe electricity using renewable resources to produce something we can use? This could potentially be very powerful here in Australia as we have abundance of land, sun and wind but in areas that aren’t populated” says Dr Ashley Franks.
Dr. Ashley Franks is a researcher at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.
Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) use bacteria to convert organic waste material into electrical energy. This environmentally-friendly process produces electricity without the combustion of fossil fuels. MFCs have various practical applications such as in breweries, domestic wastewater treatment, desalination plants, hydrogen production, remote sensing, and pollution remediation, and they can be used as a remote power source. Widespread use of MFCs in these areas can take our waste products and transform them into energy.
Today I am going to tell you about my big fat idea and I’ll be talking to you about bacteria that can eat and breathe electricity. When we talk about electricity with bacteria what we’re actually talking about is the way they can gain energy. And while the idea might seem sort of quite interesting and unusual it all goes back to the way that all living organisms can gain energy. When we gain energy, we have a nice meat pie, have some tomato sauce, we actually eat this, it’s organic food, but what we do is we breathe oxygen so we take in our organics, it has energy, we transfer energy to oxygen and form carbon dioxide. Without the oxygen we don’t really do very well, we end up dying and we call this respiration. But there’s lots of bacteria all around our world that can actually keep on surviving and respiring without oxygen. So what these bacteria are able to do is use what we call alternate electronic acceptors. Oxygen for us accepts our electrons, these bacteria can use different things.
One of the interesting bacterias that my lab is interested in is ones … is bacteria that can actually breathe metals. So this is a lump of iron oxide, solid bit of rust. It is metal but the bacteria you see sitting on the surface in green are actually breathing the metal. So they’re eating the organics, eating their pie but they’re able to breathe the metal. The difference here is that the metal is a big lump of something outside itself. So to breathe you’d have to go up and touch it, it can’t breathe in oxygen like we do, it has to go and touch the actual lump of metal and give up electricity this way. So the reason why this is interesting to us is because you can actually gather that electricity the bacteria is breathing if you give it an electrode. If you put an electrode into this system this bacteria then will breathe the electrons onto the electrode and you can gather this as an electrical current.
Ashley Franks’ eyes light up – a current flows from pond muck
So the interesting thing here is not only meat pies but all different types of organics from around the world these bacteria can actually use. And it’s actually very beneficial because once you put it into a system like a system what we call here is a microbial fuel cell, this can actually operate like a battery. So bacteria, eating, breathing, they’re electricity, we can actually put into a system and it works together to actually form a small amount of electricity. And these bacteria you can find anywhere in the world. Usually they’re under the ground where there’s no oxygen, there’s lots of them and they use lots of different organics which they can break down and provide us with electricity. People quite often think that this is really exciting ‘cause now we can actually save our electricity problems around the world ‘cause we can just get bacteria to eat our garbage and produce it. But our problem is is that bacteria are only small and they only make a small amount of electricity. So the current and voltage output that they do is quite small but it can still have some very, very beneficial processes.
The US Navy uses these under … in the soil in the actual ocean bottom and having one that’s about 1m3 of these sort of electrodes, these have a big one, is they’re about the same as 30 diesel batteries per year. While it’s not very much electricity in power what this allows you to do is actually leave a device somewhere while the bacteria are happily eating and they keep on eating for a long, long, long time, you never have to go back and change batteries. So if you wanted to actually put sensors in a rainforest, if you wanted to put sensors in a river, if you wanted to power a small device somewhere you could put this into the actual mud and the bacteria will quite happily breathe their electricity onto your electrode and power your small device. And for us in our research lab one of our most interesting points that we like to look at is these bacteria that are breathing the electrode. So these bacteria get a wide different mix, these are just some pictures of some different types but what the bacteria do is they actually go up to this electrode, they touch the electrode and able to breathe it. So this would be like if you and me were able to hold hands across a room with no oxygen and someone can touch a wall and we all can breathe together. And the bacteria are able to do this because they produce this specialised pillon and cytochromes.
Chambered BMFC being deployed in Yaquina Bay Oregon in August 2011. The chamber is pushed into the sediment and in this semi-enclosed state, the inside volume goes anaerobic. Carbon brushes positioned inside the chamber serve as the BMFC anode. Another circular carbon brush, tied to the rope harness above the chamber, serves as the cathode. The BMFC is wired to a power management system inside the black acoustic modem that floats above the BMFC. Power from the BMFC maintains the modem and a chemical sensor (optode) interfaced with the modem. BMFCs of this design typically produce ~10 mW continuously. This can sustain longterm sensor measurements in the ocean and can power periodic data transmissions from the acoustic modem. We think this technology is ideal for extending sensor networks throughout the deep ocean becuase it eliminates the need for replacing instrument batteries. Image: Oregon State University
So these are like little appendages that come out from the bacteria. They have these proteins called cytochromes that can transfer electrons and they’re able to pass electrons from inside themselves to outside themselves. So these bacteria are now becoming like a material, a biological material that can actually transfer electrons over a long distance, a relative long distance. It’s only 60 micrometres which is very small but for bacteria that’s 60 bacteria. So if 60 of us could actually stand together and hold hands it would be actually like that, transferring the electrons all that way. And this is interesting especially when you’re moving into the field of bioelectronics ‘cause these bacteria can grow an electrical biofilm that can transfer electrons better than biopolymers that people are trying to produce artificially now.
But the other aspects where this is actually quite interesting is that the bacteria themselves can be used in areas such as oil spills where the problem is is you run out of oxygen. An example that people have quite often heard of is the Deep Well Horizon spill. It was in the ocean, it was underwater but oil is organics, bacteria can eat organics but the bacteria themselves out all the oxygen in that environment and they ran out of things to breathe. But knowing about these bacteria that can breathe an electrode, if we put an electrode into that actual environment we give them something more that they can breathe, they can keep on eating this oil and they can keep on breathing and we can get rid of this a lot faster. And these electrodes are just carbon, are just like a HB pencil, that’s all they are. So you put that in, the bacteria can breathe the electricity. You might have a red flashing light but you might not care about the electricity anymore ‘cause you can get rid of the oil spill.
Operational on the ocean floor
And another area that people are quite … don’t think about very often ‘cause when you flush your toilet you don’t want to, is wastewater treatment. So wastewater treatment when we do this now we use a lot of oxygen so this requires big tanks, you need to stir that tank, you need to pump oxygen through so the bacteria can eat all that organic waste, get rid of it so we don’t contaminate our rivers. But with these electric bacteria we don’t need that stirring, we don’t need that pumping and that’s just a huge saving in electrical power. So in some places like the US alone 7% of their electricity goes to treating wastewater so if you used electric bacteria instead you don’t really care about making energy but you’re saving a lot of energy.
But what I’d mentioned earlier on before is that we at the moment, this is bacteria eating … oh sorry, this is bacteria breathing electricity but now what I’ll mention is that bacteria can also eat electricity. Because what I was saying is that from the meat pie which is energy that went out to the electrode, this is a transfer of electricity or transfer of energy. But there are some bacteria we have found in the environment as well that can actually take that energy from the electrode in the form of electrons and what they can do is use that as their food source and their power source to do a whole bunch of processes. A lot of people think this sounds really quite strange, a bit like The Matrix but what you probably most commonly know this as is photosynthesis. So a plant gets sunlight in its chlorophyll and produces electrons that power fixing carbon dioxide and make us our organics. But we have found is that these bacteria, they don’t have photosynthesis but they can take electrons from an electrode so rather than needing sunlight now what we can do is actually feed them electricity and get them to produce some type of biological or organic material. And as I mentioned before something like petroleum is an organic material.
So these bacteria, we can feed electricity which we can produce from renewable resources and get them to produce something that we can use. And this is very important in somewhere like Australia because we have lots of places where we can have a lot of wind or we have wonderful amounts of sun but our problem is is that these areas are too far from our population, from Melbourne or Sydney or anywhere where people live to get high power electricity lines. So we can’t transfer electricity over long distances. But what we could do is we could make electricity here with solar panels, feed that to bacteria who could convert it into something like butanol and have that transferred to Melbourne where we can use it as we need. And the big advantage here as well is that we’re not taking away from somebody’s food supply so the land is not being used for food but it’s got a lot of sunlight, we can catch that and we can feed it to bacteria and have something useful. So this is a new type of biofuel and the organics in that biofuel all come from carbon dioxide, so for greenhouse gases that becomes neutral and all we need to do is feed these bacteria electricity.
But one of the things that perplexed us to begin with was that you have bacteria that can breathe electricity and bacteria that can eat electricity and if you think about in the environment there’s not many places where you’re actually having electricity being produced all the time. But the cue there that we found that was interesting is that well you’ve got one that breathes and then one that eats and if you look at these bacteria together that’s quite often you’ll find them together. So they form what we call these syntrophic relationships where they’ll work together to actually carry out some type of process and normally it is somewhere where there’s no other electronic acceptor so there’s no iron, there’s no oxygen, you’ll have two bacteria that will work together and one will breathe electricity and the other one will eat the electricity that’s coming out of it so they get this little syntrophic relationship. What the problem that is quite with this is that the by-product at the very end is methane. So this methane is a great house gas, it’s not very good for the environment but there’s a lot of bacteria in the environment which are actually able to operate together, feed each other electricity to get their food and produce methane.
So it’s interesting ‘cause our research, we’re able to show that in these environments this is actually was what happening. So this is where these bacteria that we actually found to do these amazing things have evolved over millions of years and they’ve already set up their own electrical networks, they’ve already been working together through electricity to interact. And you might be thinking well this is quite interesting but what does it mean to us in the big run? And the thing is if we understand this process then we know how to sort of try and drive these microbes to do things differently because in Victoria one of our big methane producers is dairy cattle. Everybody likes milk, everybody likes cheese but these cattle have bacteria in their stomach that produce most of the methane that they’re able to burp out and gives us a lot of methane problems. But looking at the bacterial communities in the cow what we find is that some of them are these bacteria that are feeding each other electricity. And because they’re actually feeding each other electricity they produce a lot of the methane. So if we know how to give the cow the right type of food so you select not the electric bacteria but if you give them some vitamin supplements to select other bacteria you won’t get this interaction through electricity, you won’t get your methane and we won’t get our greenhouse gases.
And further to that if you actually want more methane then what you can do is actually promote the bacteria because there’s a lot of industrial processes to get rid of waste that convert it in these big vats using bacteria to produce methane. So if you have a lot of organics, if you have some type of food processing plant, if you have something that has a lot of waste, that waste you don’t want to put into our riverstream ‘cause you’re going to harm the environment, what you can do is actually promote these bacteria, get their electrical connections better and they’ll actually improve at getting rid of your waste, giving you methane which you can use as an energy source.
So in summary what we’re able to do with our lab is … in my lab … is able to take bacteria that can breathe metals and end up with ways to stop cows from actually giving out methane.
This interview has transcribed directly from a podcast thanks to La Trobe University and the IEEE Student Branch. The article has been edited by Dr. Eddie Custovic, Editor-in-Chief.
Today’s article is brought to us by Nivas Ravichandran. Nivas is a recent graduate of B.E Electronics and Communication Engineering and is associated with Frilp as the Growth Specialist. He has proved to be an active IEEE Volunteer from 2010 and has organised more than a 100+ events under IEEE. He also holds responsibilities like Electronics Coordination Committee Member for IEEE Region 10 and the IEEE India Internships / Entrepreneurship Adhoc Sub Committee Member.
Mr. Nivas Ravichandran
For quiet some time, I have been emphasizing the usage of a LinkedIn Profile to students and friends. LinkedIn is a social networking website used for professional networking. It is equally important to know ways to improve your LinkedIn profile.
1. Update your LinkedIn profile regularly
Having an updated LinkedIn profile is equal to having an updated Resume. Keep reminders to update your profile on a weekly basis or plan to update after every significant event to add content to your profile. The amount of importance you emphasize on your profile is equivalent to the importance you place on your professional life.
2. Add all work and volunteer experience details
Add all work and volunteer experience details. Do not be bothered if it was a small role or a big role, ensure that you mention it with appropriate details. How long have you been working, what was the title of your position, and the responsibilities of your position. These details will add value to your future employers who wish to know what areas you have worked under.
3. Add Photos or Links to support your Experience
Text is not enough to to describe your experience. You must support the experience with photos or links which exhibit the key achievements in your role. It could be a photo of you working on a project or presenting in front of an audience. While describing it, write it from the 3rd person’s view rather than describing it as “I presented on the topic”. The photo or link could add credibility to your experience.
4. Obtain meaningful recommendations
When you add experiences, do get recommendations from your employers or colleagues that worked alongside you. The recommendations add credibility and value to how effective were you in the role you were in. You could also ask the recommender to mention certain key achievements which you wish your future employers to see.
5. Upload presentations to Slideshare and connect
This may be applicable to those of you who make a lot of presentations. Upload your presentations to Slideshare and connect your profile with the LinkedIn profile. Slideshare is a presentation hosting service which will allow your upload your presentations and provide it for public viewing. The presentations will help you to attract professionals with similar ideas and thoughts. You could be judged by the quality of presentations you upload.