EI versus AI, full steam ahead Wednesday, 07 November 2018

The inherent adaptability and problem-solving focus of engineers should see them at the forefront of future types of work instead of artificial intelligence (AI). Or will it?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is changing the face of engineering, according IBM researcher in AI, Kerry Halupka. With degrees in mechatronics and bioengineering and biomedical to her name, Halupka believes the traits associated with EI, along with the ability to solve problems, allows those in the engineering profession to contribute value across many sectors.

               EI traits: Adaptability, self-awareness, empathy, forward-thinking,
               curiosity, confidence, balanced approach, positivity, open-mindedness.

And we may end up seeing that EI not AI will dictate who will be running the show as we move further into the 21st century.

"Local engineers are currently changing the world in myriad fields – from a young Aboriginal teenager tackling water contamination in rural Australia or a group of women at the University of Melbourne revolutionising global medicine with the bionic eye," Halupka wrote in CIO.

It's not just STEM skills according to Halupka, that see them forge these paths.

"It's their diverse perspectives, unique ideas and emotional intelligence that propel them forward," she said.

"In a world of increasing automation and robotics, retaining and diversifying those inherent human qualities in engineering is key."

And while the number of female engineers needs to increase, Halupka says women are naturals at EI.

"If we’re talking about emotional intelligence as a key engineering attribute, a variety of ability tests and studies have found that women actually have higher emotional intelligence ability than men – better perception, facilitation, understanding, management, social cognition and empathy," Halupka explained.

There has also been a lot of talk about employers starting to look for graduates who don't reduce the world to ones and zeroes; those who essentially encapsulate the acronym STEAM instead of STEM – science, technology, engineering, arts and maths.

Other traits common amongst successful young engineers and seasoned professionals alike, ready to solve the problems of the world, include the ability to take calculated risks, an affinity for endless learning, and self-motivation. Are you future-ready?


Image: John Bluman steam punk