Don’t be a dummy, join the robot revolution
Automation means more smart jobs, writes Melanie Burgess
JAMES Cook University in Cairns is launching an Australia-first engineering degree designed to place graduates on the right side of the technology revolution as it gathers pace.
Economists across Australia, the US and the UK are predicting as many as 40 per cent of today’s jobs will not exist within 15 years as robots and automation replaces the need for human labour.
The jobs of the future will look very different.
Professor Wei Xiang, who has arrived in Cairns to lead the program says JCU’s new Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Electronic Systems and Internet of Things is about students buying themselves job security for the future.
“The internet allows people to talk to each other but the Internet of Things (IoT) allows people and things to talk to each other and for things to talk among themselves,” he says.
“Thirty years ago, no one would have expected the internet to have such a huge impact on society and in another 10 to 30 years, IoT will become a part of everyday life.”
Xiang says an example of IoT technology is wearable sensors that collect real-time biomedical information and transmit that to doctors who can then attend to care immediately if something goes wrong.
Another example is using sensors on cars so they can communicate with each other and prevent collisions.
“The job prospects for IoT graduates will be vast,” Xiang says. “They can walk into any industry of their choice because in IoT we’re transforming all of them.
“It’s not like a traditional mechanical engineer, for example, who has to find a job in manufacturing.”
He says universities in Europe and China are already offering IoT qualifications, acknowledging the growing shift towards automation around the world.
The JCU degree will combine the study of electronic engineering with internet technologies, wireless communications, sensor devices, industrial design and cloud computing.
First-year engineering students Cameron Gauci and Brendan Davidson plan to specialise in electronic systems and IoT when it becomes available in 2017.
Gauci says he has already seen the effects of automation in the mining industry, where he worked for 10 years.
“With automation, employers don’t have to worry about injuries and things like that,” he says.“Unskilled workers are out of work . . . I was a site manager but technically I was unskilled so I think (the degree) is a smart move.”
Davidson, who became interested in electronics as his father was an electrician, says he believes IoT is going to be a big deal very soon.
INTERNET OF THINGS: James Cook University students Brendan Davidson and Cameron Gauci. Picture: JUSTIN BRIERTY