Engineering Students: Master the Art of Change for Career Survival

If you’re studying to be an engineer, the only way you’ll survive over the next 30 years is to know how to switch technologies quickly, and constantly re-purpose your knowledge for new products and jobs, according to working experts in emerging technologies.

In other words, “learn how to learn,” says Research in Motion software architect Charles Schultz, who designs applications for Blackberry phones. This was the unanimous advice from a panel of cutting edge software engineers and executives who spoke on Game Changing Technology in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The event was held by ITWomen and the South Florida Technology Alliance to give members and the public an overview of the changes coming for health care and how we do business due to the proliferation of smart phones and the power of cloud computing.

Brianna Woods, a high school sophomore who is planning for an engineering degree, asked the speakers what students should do now to prepare for jobs in the future.

Jason Milgram

Jason Milgram

“This is an exciting time to be in technology,”  says Jason Milgram, founder of Linxter. He recommends students get their first jobs in a large company that uses well-rounded development and life cycle processes. Before founding his own company, Milgram consulted to global corporations like AT&T and IBM.

Brianna thanked ITWomen for “opening my eyes” to engineering. She was among the high school girls who attended the event through their involvement in ITWomen’s outreach activities. Programs like ITWomen’s Role Model Speakers encourage and support girls to build a future in IT and engineering.

Other high school students attending the event on Game Changing Technology included Dominique Seward and Leondra Hollingsworth, accompanied by Charlyce Woods, Brianna’s mother and Leondra’s mother, Vacella Demetitt.


Dramatic changes in how we get and store our medical records are in work. Stacks of paper records most people only access now through requesting copies from all their various health care providers will be available online. Cloud computing was seen as the only technology that can  enable consumers to see all their disparate records, from charts to x-ray images, assembled in one place, collected from various providers from data stored across a variety of computers in a variety of locations. In five years, 40% of all images stored in computers will be medical images, according to one panelist.


Biggest concerns and greatest obstacle to widespread adoption of cloud computing for storing critical data, especially medical records, is security. “Security is the number one customer concern, it’s 100% of the barriers we see now,” said Chris Drumgoole of Terremark. Drumgoole leaned with the other panelists in saying public fears are based more on emotion than knowledge of the technology.

Medical consumers are especially leery of their current and future health insurance providers getting access to their pre-existing health conditions.

Pete Martinez of QuantumMD said the threat of mega lawsuits against insurance companies who violated such security would be a deterrent. Martinez added that the bigger solution to less expensive health care is when individuals are healthier. “What if you had the equivalent of a ‘health scorecard’ like a credit score, where you could base your payments on the state of your health? What if a doctor got paid more for having well patients?”

Schultz offered the assurance of privacy settings, comparable to the Flickr online social network where consumers store their photos and other images. “In the Flickr model, you can decide how, where, and who has access to your images.”


IT people face the challenge of working with different operating standards to integrate information and payments from different systems. One step that would ease this problem would be if the federal government were to be a major payer to medical providers as a result of health care reform. It would motivate companies to design to a common standard for more seamless payments.


Milgram anticipated a time when remote image of patient conditions will enable more elderly people to be cared for at home instead of at nursing facilities.


What took Bill Gates months and millions of dollars to obtain computer processing power to build his first application can be available to the average “kid in the garage” as a result of connecting the capabilities of magnitudes of computers through cloud technology. As a result, new ideas will come faster to market, and more new ideas will result in cross-pollination of even more new ideas.

Down the road, Martinez sees society heading to a Bio Revolution where nanotechnology and knowledge of genetics will result in radical new treatments for medical diseases, such as tiny implanted “devices that could regulate the growth of cancer cells, or control insulin.”


With the advent of cloud computing technology, future consumers may use and pay for computer processing power like consumers pay for electricity and water usage today, said Drumgoole. Terremark, incidentally, is Florida’s largest user of electricity.


As a result of business and consumer concerns with storing more and more critical data outside their own desktop and systems, the area of Information Assurance will grow greatly, predicted Milgram. More confidentiality protections, data integrity, verification of senders, 100% uptime will be in even more demand.

– Reported by Christine Zambrano, ITWomen, VP Digital Content 9/30/2009