I agree with your point, Rich, that we are still in the beginning stages of multidisciplinary design--or at least making multidisciplinary design work effectively. From what I can gather, engineers still tend to gravitate to their respective corners and comfortable choice of tool sets and there is still a great number of hurdles to cross before software, hardware, electrical, and other types of engineers are collaborating as a highly integrated unit and at ease moving between disciplines.
I think some of the newer tools, that create bridges between these previously siloed areas, will definitely help, as will new university curriculum and training that focuses not only on the technical cross-domain engineering expertise, but also on the cultural and organizational challenges required to foster a multidisciplinary approach. The complexity of today's products demand this shift in practice so I think, it's not an if, but a when.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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