Internet Of Things And The Changing Face Of Engineering

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How smart is your home? If the buzz is to be believed, we’ll all soon be living in “connected homes” where everything from our alarm systems and solar panels to our pet feeders and clothes dryers will be networked together intelligently. Our world is becoming increasingly connected through the Internet of Things (IoT) as more and more of the appliances and products we use are connected to each other through a layer of added intelligence. If you work in the world of engineering, IoT is changing your world faster than ever. Many ambitious software, mechanical and manufacturing engineers are finding opportunities in this brave new world of Internet everywhere.

Machine to machine

At the heart of the IoT phenomena is the startling but simple concept of machines talking to machines. Intrigued, we dove into the flood of online conversations to get a sense of what engineers are talking about in this emerging space. One of the more interesting conversations we found was on the /r/IoTDev subreddit, where software engineers debate the finer details for how machines can most efficiently communicate with each other. Check out their discussion for a sense of the intriguing puzzles these amazing engineers are solving for every day. 

A world of opportunity

As the IoT continues to expand, creative engineers are enjoying a variety of challenging and lucrative job opportunities. Engineers specializing in mobile development and hardware engineering are especially sought-after in this booming age of IoT. Aerotek recruiter Matt Wiehe says that the consumer product goods category is also rapidly developing their extensions into IoT. “It’s been surprising how many ‘traditional’ manufacturing companies we’ve seen adapting their business towards the world of IoT. Our engineers in these companies are working on projects around device performance monitoring, environmental sensors and areas like preventative maintenance and equipment upgrading. But we see the consumer electronics industry moving faster than anyone else right now into IoT. We have clients in this category seeking to fill advanced engineering positions quickly. There is a LOT of competition for hiring good engineers out there.”

Up for the challenge

We were curious as to whether the opportunities for engineers in IoT were limited to the very advanced and specialized software engineers. Wiehe said no. “Frankly we’ve seen a great demand for engineers across the experience spectrum. Engineers adept at Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, near field communications (NFC) and other connectivity solutions are in huge demand. Another trend we see is more and more engineers exploring contract positions over direct placement positions. They find the idea of leaving their current jobs to work on new technologies and bigger challenges not only more exciting, but better for their long-term careers.”

The future looks bright
The IoT revolution in industries like consumer products, healthcare, electronics and manufacturing is clearly accelerating. As broadband and hardware costs fall, innovations in mobile and cloud computing expand. And as consumers embrace the value of their machines being so connected, the Internet of Things roars on. 

By 2020, Gartner projects the world will hold 21 billion connected devices. That’s about three devices for each of us. Matt sees a pattern developing for the type of engineers drawn toward working on this advancing frontier. “Jumping feet-first into the world of IoT can mean challenging work, often going beyond your more typical 9 to 5 engineering job. Even our most senior software engineers are constantly keeping themselves updated with the newest innovations and what’s happening in the market.” We’re reminded of the subreddit thread above where software engineers continually rely on each other to share and learn about emerging programming languages and techniques. From our deep experience placing these intensely curious professionals, we know they bring a considerable set of talents and skills to the projects they work on for our clients.

Risk equals reward

We asked Matt if he had any advice for engineers thinking about making a move into the IoT space. “Take a chance ― immerse yourself deeply into one area and learn everything you can. Plug into a network of bright IoT engineers like yourself, and think about finding a mentor or a small group of colleagues who share the same passions. If you’re ready for work on the ever-expanding frontier of the Internet of Things, we see huge opportunities for a rewarding career in engineering.”

If you’re a software engineer looking for a deeply rewarding career, we invite you to create an Aerotek career account here, or explore our current software engineering opportunities.