The future and rapid specialization

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  • #1
Dunky
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I have a question I have been thinking about.

It seems as fields advance more and more background information is needed to get to the point of industry or PhD level understanding of an area.

50 years from now, will the prospect of having a "broad" educational background still exist or will people specialize much sooner in their academic career? Will it even be viable for people to learn about many areas but have a chance of being competent in any of them? Thinking about my own educational background I can say definitely I only know a relatively narrow subsection of my field and it took me 6 years to get here. While I am confident in my ability to learn any subject there is zero chance of being able to be industry ready in all of them at the same time. And this will only get worse as fields advance.
 

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  • #2
Joshy
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I suppose it depends where you work, what you're working on, and probably where you live. I've been all over the place myself with only a little over 2 years of experience after my bachelors.
 
  • #3
homeylova223
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The amount of specialization you need nowadays, is the reason I think society will have to implement universal basic income and soon. So people can have some sort of income while they learn specialized skills while coding.
 
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StatGuy2000
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The amount of specialization you need nowadays, is the reason I think society will have to implement universal basic income and soon. So people can have some sort of income while they learn specialized skills while coding.

The issue of universal basic income is very much separate from the acquisition of specialized skills.

As far as acquiring or learning specialized skills, the best way to learn such skills is in doing so while employed at your current job (through company-sponsored or company-paid courses or training sessions), or through internships while you are in school.
 
  • #5
StatGuy2000
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I have a question I have been thinking about.

It seems as fields advance more and more background information is needed to get to the point of industry or PhD level understanding of an area.

50 years from now, will the prospect of having a "broad" educational background still exist or will people specialize much sooner in their academic career? Will it even be viable for people to learn about many areas but have a chance of being competent in any of them? Thinking about my own educational background I can say definitely I only know a relatively narrow subsection of my field and it took me 6 years to get here. While I am confident in my ability to learn any subject there is zero chance of being able to be industry ready in all of them at the same time. And this will only get worse as fields advance.

The thing is, as fields advance more, then the content inherent within a bachelor's degree in fields like, say, computer science or the various engineering fields will adjust accordingly. So in this respect, in another 50 years, the curriculum of fields will change to a certain degree to reflect this.

At the same time, it is often the case that the kind of specialized skills one learns are best acquired through internships while you are still a student. I have made this point repeatedly, but will make it again -- internships should be a requirement for graduation for all undergraduate STEM students.
 
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symbolipoint
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Really Big LIKE :

I have made this point repeatedly, but will make it again -- internships should be a requirement for graduation for all undergraduate STEM students.
 
  • #7
symbolipoint
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This topic is another look at the "This degree is an education; it is not job training" concept. Later upon searching for jobs, candidates will often meet with employer interviewers wanting to know the candidates' job skills for the currently open position. If seeker has an education, some employers move on to another seeker. If seeker has relevant experience and skills, then employer wants this person.
 
  • #8
Joshy
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Breadth hasn't been a problem for me.

Earliest internships were nanotechnology and semiconductor physics. During study abroad I followed the MSc structure for IC design; came back to the US and finished my bachelors with a depth in controls and instrumentation with most of my technical electives in chemistry. First full-time positions were in aerospace with a few months in power electronics and then about two years as a RF engineer mainly working on mmWave subsystem design although there were frequent periods of programming and configuring controller boards for testing. I'm currently working on consumer electronics as a packaging engineer. I'm about to begin graduate coursework this fall specializing on analog/mixed-signal IC design.

At least for the few positions I've worked there's plenty of room for both specialized people and the jack of all trades. I don't really see it leaning towards one way or the other. Just like any engineering projects there's no free lunch there are trade-offs to both perspectives if you specialize and there is disruptive technology killing your field, then you're out; of course: the benefit to specializing is employers will likely be most interested in the person who has the more talent and knowledge covering their needs, but there are a lot of advantages to being able to swim a bit into other fields and connecting the dots especially on cross functional teams.
 

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