As civil engineers, we tend to get caught up in the details of our projects. This can make it hard to stay aware of the ever-changing landscape of technology.
However, it is very important for civil engineers, especially managers and leaders, to stay up to date on new technology and avoid losing ground to competitors who have already implemented cutting-edge tools.
Also, new technology often saves you time, ensuring that your projects remain as profitable as possible. That being said, with the rapid advancements in today’s world, how is it possible to stay current?
Experts estimate that the technology we use in the workplace evolves every 24 months, which means any training you’ve taken within the last two years may be obsolete. Personally, I think 24 months is generous.
Here are seven actions you can take to stay current on technology in the civil engineering field.
1. Read trade publications that highlight new technology, including software programs that might be applicable to your work. Some publications have specific columns focused on technology, making it easy to quickly peruse those sections.
2. Subscribe to the email newsletters of your preferred software manufacturers. For example, if there’s a stormwater or structural design software that you use, be sure to subscribe to the company’s newsletter so that you receive information about updates and new releases.
3. Keep an eye on other firms in the industry and what technology they are using. Oftentimes, one or two leading firms will be the first to implement new technologies, and by speaking to colleagues at these firms, you can be made aware of these advances.
4. Attend or send staff to conferences where the latest technology is showcased. While you may think this is a costly option in terms of lost billable time, failure to implement a new technology could cost you much more than attending or sending staff to an event.
5. Use social media effectively to stay informed. Social media is powerful but can also be a black hole of lost time if you don’t have a strategy for using it effectively. Follow the leading software firms in your industry on social media to receive updates on technology.
6. Talk to your clients about technology. When you meet with your clients, give them updates on new technology you are using and exploring, and ask them about their technology use. I’ve had some clients turn me on to new programs or applications that I have found to be very useful.
7. Take advantage of in-house or online training as often as possible. In number 4, I mentioned attending conferences. As an alternative, often you’ll find that your firm offers in-house lunch-and-learn or online webinar opportunities on the latest technology. Participate in as many of these as possible. If you’re not aware of them, ask your colleagues if they are available.
The key takeaway here is that we live in a world of technology that continues to get more advanced, and as a civil engineer, one new tool can change everything for you and your firm. Your regular attention to this trend can dramatically accelerate your growth as a civil engineer. That being said, it can be stressful to try to stay on top of the latest trends. My hope is that the strategies presented in this article will offer you an effective and efficient way of doing so. Because, unfortunately … “there’s no app for that yet.”
Anthony Fasano, P.E., F.ASCE, is the founder of the Engineering Management Institute (previously known as the Engineering Career Coach), which has helped thousands of engineers develop their business and leadership skills. He hosts the Civil Engineering Podcast and he is the author of a bestselling book for engineers, Engineer Your Own Success. You can download a free video series on his website that will give you the tools needed to immediately improve your networking and communication skills by clicking here.
Anthony has also recently started the Engineering Management Accelerator to help engineers become more effective managers: www.EngineerToManager.com.