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Careers of the Future: Industrial Automation Engineering

industrial automation

This article is sponsored by Engineering Institute of Technology

Globalisation, automation and rapidly changing needs mean the future of employment will probably look very different to now. In fact, many current careers won’t exist in the next 10 to 20 years. So, it’s critical that students ask the important question: ‘Will my chosen study path lead to strong job opportunities after graduation and beyond?’

In this series we’re exploring a range of occupations forecast to have strong employment prospects in the future. Some careers in the tech industry are quickly emerging. Plus, there are other existing careers that will also have an important place in the employment opportunities of tomorrow.

As technology evolves worldwide, an increasing number of industrial processes are becoming automated, and it’s revolutionising the way people work. On a small scale, we have robot vacuums. On a large scale, we have entire warehouses run by automation technology.

With companies investing heavily in these new technologies, there is international demand for engineers specialising in this unique field. Do you want to be on the cutting edge of tech? Read on to find why a qualification in industrial automation engineering could be for you.

What is industrial automation engineering and why should I study it?

Rather than relying on human intervention in industry, computerised control systems have higher accuracy and precision and are more cost-effective. An industrial automation engineering technologist’s role is to implement the automation of a process and streamline the process to make it as efficient as possible, without compromising product quality.

There are plenty of good reasons to study industrial automation engineering.

There’s worldwide demand

The demand for automation in industry is increasing exponentially, as is the requirement for engineers in this field. The automotive, heavy manufacturing and electronics industries are the biggest driving forces behind the need for industrial automation engineering technicians.

In Australia alone, the Australian Mines and Metals Association has stated that there are $41 billion worth of mining projects planned for the next few years. If these extra projects are realised, this could result in a rise of 21,000 jobs over the next five years in areas such as automation, as this new skill area is sought-after for mining companies seeking to increase their competitiveness in the global market.

As such, engineering graduates need to be well equipped with the skills necessary to fill automation engineering roles worldwide.

Companies are committing to investing in automation

Global spending on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related automation technologies is expected to reach nearly $98 billion by 2023. In a 2019 report studying 200 companies, it was found that 87% of British businesses automated a key business process over the year, with 9% of company budgets dedicated to automation. This kind of long-term investment by businesses seals the future of automation – this technology is here to stay.

You’ll learn a broad range of skills

As a student of industrial automation engineering, you can expect to learn and develop a broad range of transferable skills, which will help when it comes to searching for a job. Along with the compulsory mathematics and science modules, successful engineering students will graduate with an understanding of economics, ethics, business, communication, and, as is increasingly vital, knowledge of sustainability and the environment.

You’ll get hands-on experience

Studying industrial automation engineering will always necessitate hands-on, practical experience, industry placements and research projects, meaning your study is not solely from the books. This diverse range of learning experiences will better prepare you for real-world employment.

Education pathways to industrial automation engineering

There are a number of relevant pathways that will lead you to a career in industrial automation engineering. Most universities around Australia only offer this specialisation as a Masters, but there are alternatives. For example, the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT), which delivers its courses via a unique online delivery model and has campuses in Melbourne and Perth, offers qualifications including diplomas, bachelors and masters specifically in industrial automation engineering.

EIT’s industrial automation engineering qualifications include:

  • 52708WA – Advanced Diploma of Industrial Automation – available online 
  • Bachelor of Science (Industrial Automation Engineering) – available online and on-campus in Perth
  • Master of Engineering (Industrial Automation) – available online and on-campus in Perth and Melbourne

For those who wish to upskill via an intensive short course, EIT’s three-month online Professional Certificate of Competency in Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) & SCADA Systems highlights recent developments, using case studies, and the latest application of SCADA, PLC technologies and fundamentals.

Meet a Master of Engineering (Industrial Automation) student

Mildred Nanono, from Uganda, graduated from EIT with a Master of Engineering (Industrial Automation), while balancing a full-time job as an electrical engineer.

EIT is one of the only institutes in the world specialising in engineering, meaning lecturers have applied knowledge. Plus, the majority of students are already employed in the engineering industry, like Mildred, allowing for international knowledge-sharing and global networking.

“My class had experienced students who had worked with distributed control systems. Likewise, the lecturers not only had the theory but also loads of practical experience,” Mildred says. “Particularly, during my last year of study, I was reviewing the designs for the upgrade of our distributed control system, and my lecturers helped to come up with the best solution. Coincidentally, the modules I covered that semester related closely with my work.”

Since completing her Masters, Mildred has taken a job as a control and instrumentation engineer. Her employer was impressed with the work she undertook at EIT.

“My employer appreciated the study model, as I was never absent from duty, and I have grown tremendously in my career as the current control and instrumentation engineer,” she says. “As such, my employer has agreed to sponsor my colleague for the same course.”

Mildred’s next career objective is to achieve a management role, so she will be undertaking the Engineering Leadership professional development course with EIT’s sister company, IDC Technologies, to help her gain more skills and knowledge. In this rapidly evolving field, staying on top of new technology and skills is vital for every industrial automation engineer’s career development.

Ready to get started with a career in industrial automation? The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT), like all Australian higher education providers and universities, is accredited by the exacting standards of the Australian Government’s Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). EIT is a pioneering provider of automation and new technology courses in engineering that enable industry workers to update their skills in these rapidly evolving job areas.

EIT offers a unique live online delivery methodology that uses live and interactive tutorials, an international pool of expert lecturers, dedicated learning support officers, and state-of-the-art technologies such as hands-on workshops, remote laboratories, and simulation software. EIT also has small class sizes, campuses in Perth and Melbourne, a strong practical focus and industry accreditation, making it a great option for kicking off your career. Plus, the Institute was the 2019 Western Australian Industry & Export Awards Winner – Education category. For more information, head to the EIT website.