With increasing competition from around the world, America’s engineering graduates need to be more prepared than ever to enter the work force, and Cal Poly Pomona is well-poised to ensure that they are, according to the inaugural speaker of the College of Engineering’s Distinguished Lectureship Series.
“Make no mistake, this is a competition,” said Virginia Grebbien, president of Parsons Environment & Infrastructure.
During her lecture, Grebbien, who is a Cal Poly Pomona alumna, discussed the reality that America’s scientists and engineers are now facing in a job market with competition from all across the globe.
“Globalization’s here and it isn’t going away,” she said.
Grebbien illustrated her point by describing her experiences in the private sector, where engineers earned employment by being more skilled than others vying for the same job. Often, the competition was coming from engineers educated overseas.
To stay ahead of the competition, America’s engineers must be more educated and more work-ready than they have ever been before. Inaction will mean losing jobs to engineers from other parts of the world, she said.
That might have at first sounded distressing to students in the audience, but Grebbien expressed confidence in the College of Engineering and Cal Poly Pomona’s learn-by-doing philosophy.
“I don’t really know if everyone in this room realizes how valuable that policy and that agenda of learn-by-doing really is,” she said. “It’s something that I’ve carried with me every day after I graduated from Cal Poly Pomona.”
Grebbien attributes much of her success to the education she got at Cal Poly Pomona and she strongly recommended that graduates “be open to opportunities when they present themselves” and take risks that might result in failure, since every failure is also a chance to learn something.
She also believes that, despite an ever-shifting global landscape, the College of Engineering provides an education that prepares graduates to face the competition directly.
“[The college] has had to contend with massive budget cuts and aging equipment. Nevertheless, by this time they had graduated over 20,000 engineers who have gone out into the workforce with impressive results.” Grebbien said.
“It’s a good show for a college making its way through its middle age, don’t you think? Absolutely fabulous.”
The MediaVision website has the entire video of Grebbien’s lecture.