Washington Post : Engineers Learning People Skills, Too

An academic associate of my boss forwarded on a very interesting article that appeared in Sunday’s Washington Post entitled Engineers Learning People Skills, Too. The article, nicely written by Michelle Locke, quotes sources from hugely respected institutions like UC Berkley, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and MIT. All endorse the importance of non-technical skills in an engineering career.

As you might imagine, this gave me a huge smile as it validates the topics I write about here. In my 14 year technical career, I have seen time and time again that the folks who get ahead are the ones who master the soft skills. They can translate complex and detailed technical topics into language that non-technical senior executives and marketers can understand. They take the time to understand why they are doing projects, not just how they are going to implement them. They accurately estimate the time it takes to complete a particular project.

While a baseline of technical knowledge is still absolutely required, these other things have a bigger impact on career growth than most people think. Passing on these things I’ve learned about and continuing to find others is what I’m passionate about here on this space. Agreement from the mainstream media on this idea, even though it wasn’t directed at my materials in particular, was extremely rewarding to read about.


4 Responses to “Washington Post : Engineers Learning People Skills, Too”

  1. Wendee Says:

    Amazing. It seems so clearly important, doesn’t it? I think this applies to everyone, not just to technical types. You can work on those, I’ve got my hands full with the ones at the other end of the spectrum…

  2. Pete Johnson Says:

    Hey Wendee,

    I agree that everybody could use the help, but I’ve got more street cred with the techie set. Or is that keyboard cred? I probably better not over analyze that, but your point is very valid.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    It is amazing that the softer skills were not emphasized during our tertiary education. They mostly focused on the engineering topics. While these are important, it does not created a well rounded graduate engineer when they exit the academic world.

  4. David V. Greis Says:

    Soft skills for technical people are absolutely essential for success. How can you invent the perfect machine, or repair a product without ascertaining the needs or what the problem is? By developing soft skills through easy to get training, you can take any engineering or technical career to the next level. Human communication is, and will always be, part of the technical and engineering process.

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