Updated July 2020
Engineers’ remuneration and recognition is strongly related to the value they create – a well-supported finding in economics.
Our research shows that engineers today know little about value creation, and what little they do know does not align well with investors’ ideas.
We conclude therefore that engineers will be paid less than they think they are worth (which agrees with survey findings) and second, there is plenty of potential to improve engineers’ remuneration and recognition if they take the time to learn how to create value.
Until recently, engineering value creation has mostly been associated with innovation, entrepreneurs, and famous inventors like Thomas Edison and Nikolas Tesla.
However, Bill Williams and I have demonstrated this understanding is misleading.
It is the routine, everyday engineering performances dominating the lives of most engineers, with few opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurial activities, which contribute most engineering value.
Routine everyday engineering not only creates great value, but also protects accumulated value from inadvertent destruction.
Our work has appeared in two publications:
- Trevelyan, James P., and Bill Williams. 2017, forthcoming. “Value creation in the engineering enterprise: an educational perspective.” European Journal of Engineering Education. (Email me if you cannot access the journal through your institution or employer).
- Trevelyan, James P., and Bill Williams. 2018, forthcoming. “Identifying Value in the Engineering Enterprise.” In The Engineering-Business Nexus: Symbiosis, Tension, and Co-Evolution, edited by Steen Hyldgaard Christensen, Bernard Delahousse, Christelle Didier, Martin Meganck and Mike Murphy. London: Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (Still in press, due to appear later in 2018)
We sincerely believe that engineering educators could build on these ideas and greatly improve the quality of engineering education, even with relatively minor changes to current courses. However, these publications require further explanations and examples to be useful for educators.
Ultimately, value creation is about productivity improvement, something that needs to be at the forefront of engineering education. Engineers enable people to be more productive: enabling people to do more with less time, less effort, less material resources, less energy, less uncertainty, less health risk, and less environmental disturbance.
Therefore we have released a guide for engineering value creation for students, educators and practicing engineers. This is freely accessible in PDF format. To complement the guide, there is also a set of annotated presentation slides from my keynote address to the Australasian Conference on Engineering Education in Sydney, December 13, 2017.
These are living documents and our intention is to update them regularly as we receive feedback from educators and students.