What jobs can cause engineering absences

Job profiles: will engineers and computer scientists become one?

Klaus Maier has only been a professor at Aalen University for a few weeks. Before that, he studied biotechnology and computer science at the same time, then did his doctorate at the interface between the two disciplines. This was followed by positions of responsibility in system and software development in medium-sized companies and corporations. "My professorship for embedded software has been created and I teach electrical engineering students the professional development of software," says Maier.

For him, his professorship at the interface between computer science and engineering is also evidence of the closeness of these disciplines and their convergence. Engineers without IT knowledge have no chance in the job market these days. You need to be familiar with software, more in one engineering discipline and less in another.

Lack of computer scientists is the new lack of engineers

Up until about a year or two ago, companies and associations such as the Association of German Engineers, VDI, announced a permanent lack of engineers for a good decade. Even the employment agency spoke of a lack of engineers with IT knowledge, especially electrical engineers. Now our world is being digitized and the high-tech association Bitkom is now complaining about a shortage of IT specialists.

On the job market, engineers have lost their previously outstanding position to computer scientists. Computer scientists are now those who are desperately wanted in all industries. About a year ago, according to Bitkom, the number of vacancies for IT specialists reached a new record high of 124,000. This corresponds to an increase of 51 percent compared to the previous year. Engineers could be a partial solution to the problem.

Closer to the hardware

The world's largest automotive supplier, Bosch, qualifies engineers from hardware to software with the aim of subsequently deploying them as software and systems developers. Bosch works with the University of Stuttgart and Aalen University to do this. "In principle, digital knowledge is becoming increasingly important in almost all job profiles, especially in engineering professions," says Vera Winter, who is responsible for recruiting and retaining talent at Bosch.

For about five to seven years she has been observing a strong trend at universities that programming and software skills are also taught in traditional engineering courses such as electrical engineering or industrial engineering. "When filling positions for the development of hardware-related software, we therefore like to take engineers with degrees in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or industrial engineers," says Winter. They are used in the development of software and system solutions for driver assistance systems, automated driving and electromobility. These are all hardware-related systems.

Intersection C

Engineer and computer scientist - what is the technical difference between them with regard to IT? "The programming language and thus the programming paradigms used," says Professor Maier. Electrical engineers often learn C and C ++, mechatronics technicians more C and Matlab, computer scientists C, Java and Python. The intersection is therefore the widespread language C. Electrical engineers in particular learn to program hardware-related during their studies. The learning curve of a mechanical engineer who starts out in software development is significantly steeper because the computer science component is lower in the training.

The VDI has been observing the technical convergence of engineers and computer scientists for about a decade. "Since then, the proportion of IT knowledge imparted has risen in almost all engineering courses," says Ingo Rauhut, Managing Director of the VDI's Professional Advisory Board for Profession and Labor Market. This increase is necessary because in mechanical engineering, for example, the share of added value in hardware is decreasing, but in software "The control now has the largest share in the value of a machine," says Rauhut.

Approach, but not amalgamation

It is similar in automotive engineering with assistance systems. Both are fields of activity for engineers and computer scientists. In hardware-related IT, both and often work together. Where engineers are seldom found, these are the classic jobs of computer scientists, for example in IT infrastructure or in the development and operation of ERP systems. That is the territory of classic computer scientists. If you want to work in hardware-related programming, you have to familiarize yourself like some engineers, because that is usually not part of their training.

In Rauhut's opinion, the two professions of engineer and computer scientist do not merge, "because you still need expert knowledge, but they are getting closer still". Maier sees it similarly, not only because of his newly created professorship, but because of the technical computer science course. It combines both fields in one discipline and is therefore also called engineering informatics.


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