I admit that I have never really taken advantage of the training offered by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) in the past. Occasionally one of their courses catches my eye (such as training on problem solving using Triz, for example) but when drill deeper I have found that courses tend to take the form of teacher-lead classroom sessions spanning several days. Courses of this form represent a large investment, and whilst large corporations are well positioned to make these investments; smaller companies such as ours generally require a much more immediate ROI on the outlay of both time and money.
In the many years I was employed by a multi-national I was fortunate enough to receive teacher-lead training in Design for Six Sigma (Black Belt), PRINCE2, Lean Design, BDI Design for Assembly, Concurrent Engineering, Quality Function Deployment, Quality Circles, 5 S’s, Project Management ….. the list goes on. Whilst some of these courses have provided me with insight and tools that I have and will continue to use, others have most definitely not. I most certainly cannot afford to invest WDS’ time and money on courses that will not bring about a clear and positive impact to the business. Period.
The net result is that I have not enlisted in any of the paid training programs in the 12 years that I have been a director of WDS or in fact the 23 years that I have been a full member of the IMechE.
I’m pleased to see that the institution is now providing other options for its members. Whether this is natural evolution, modernisation to the digital age or perhaps as a social distancing measure brought about by the pandemic I cannot say.
There are now free-to-attend training / information sessions available via webinars, live streams and YouTube channels. Not only are many of these bite-sized sessions accessible to all interested parties regardless of membership status or geographic location but most are available at any time, so importantly are accessible outside of conventional working hours.
One recent live webinar I participated in was a live event that was attended by approximately 350 members from around the world. Although this only represents approximately 0.4% of the total membership it is still a healthy number, suggesting that there was sufficient interest for the topic amongst the membership.
Their “Webinar Hub” features strongly on the home page and provides access to all webinar recordings arranged by topic. Its work-in-progress and there is currently a limited number of webinars in each topic, but I for one plan to to check-in regularly to browse through the growing library of offerings.
The very latest initiative from the IMechE is the production of a monthly podcast, the first episode of which on Energy and Sustainability has just been released. I welcome this format and see it as being particularly useful for when I am spending otherwise wasted time in the car. At last we seem to have be making some in-roads into closing the gender gap when the impeccably qualified and well established professional engineers featured on the podcast just happen to be female, yet the podcast is about important engineering issues and not about attracting females to engineering.
This feels like a very natural way of confirming that the world of engineering is open to females and males alike. A good engineer is a good engineer, regardless of race, religion or gender.
My opinion on this matter – in the words of Kevin Costner: “build it and they will come”!
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