Stanford engineering professor James Plummer addresses the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit in San Francisco

James Plummer, Stanford engineering professor and former dean’s talk kicked off the first IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit in San Francisco.


  • “The engineers who will invent that future will be a different breed of people than the engineers we educated in the 20th century.”
  • Doctoral programs likely won’t change much, he said, other than to become more interdisciplinary”.
  • Masters-level programs, at least at brick-and-mortar schools, “will just go away,” he predicts. “Instead it will be about lifelong education and just-in-time knowledge, and that will be done online.”
  • “And undergraduate engineering education, though it will persist, will change radically.”


Plummer advocated broadening engineering education to include more liberal arts exposure and more life skills, with the aim of preparing future engineers for unpredictable careers. “Engineers will need communication skills, the ability to work in teams, global knowledge, and an entrepreneurial outlook as much as they will need technical depth”, he said.

Read the IEEE article here.



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