As a Chartered Engineer (the UK equivalent of a Professional Engineer), each year I am required to continue my professional development to ensure that I stay current and up-to-date throughout my career.
While the peer review by my professional institution -- the Institute of Engineering and Technology (commonly called the IET) -- of the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) I undertake is not mandatory, they have recently introduced a new voluntary opt-in system for both members and fellows. It was receiving the email about the introduction of this scheme that got me thinking about how I keep up-to-date. This was particularly timely as I am currently in the process of moving to a new company and position.
Changing jobs is always a very exciting time, but -- like all job changes – it will require a learning curve as I get to grips with new systems and products. Of course, this gives me new areas upon which to focus my CPD this coming year.
It is recommend by the both the IET and the Engineering Council that engineers should undertake 30 hours a year of professional development, and that this should be split between structured (10 hours) and unstructured (20 hours). Over the years, I have kept current like most engineers via the recommended mixture of the aforementioned structured and unstructured training, although -- if I am honest -- the unstructured training has been easier to do and more fun than structured courses due to project or company constraints.
Having said this, these days, there are a large number of resources available on the Internet for engineers. These resources not only allow engineers to keep current in their fields, but they also help with both structured and unstructured CPD, which -- in my view -- is a great bonus.
Perhaps the most recent change is the introduction of massively open online courses. These are resources where universities open up selected courses -- or even entire degree courses -- for people to follow on the web. These are great resources when it comes to structured training. Consider the following, for example:
- MIT OpenCourseWare is an excellent resource that enables you to access MIT lectures across a wide range of subjects.
- Coursera lists a number of courses from a range of universities in a variety of different languages.
Other great resources are the MOOC List website, which details a large number of open courses, and TechOnline, which has a slightly more focused technical bent but is still great for structured training.
Unstructured training can take the form of a discussion with a colleague or more informal training. Also, there are a number of web resources you can use for unstructured training, such as EE Times and All Programmable Planet, along with vendor journals such as Xilinx Xcell Journal and Internet discussion forums, all of which can offer a great repository of engineering information and techniques.
Of course, CPD does not have to be all about undertaking training or taking courses. If you wish to do something slightly different than watch a course, you could research and write a presentation for an engineering conference like Design West 2014.
Following the IET releasing the new online CPD tool, I will be using this to record my own CPD over the course of the next year, hopefully having used the resources noted above to their maximum benefit. Which brings me to question you... How do you keep current? Are you required to demonstrate CPD and, if not, why not?