There Are No Low-Tech Fields#Technology
by Casey ThompsonRead time:
Industries that were once considered “low-tech” are now desperately in need of people with technology skills. Yet, the education many aspiring trade professionals and others are bringing to the table is less than adequate.
Knowledge of technology is indispensable for every student today, not just those pursuing engineering or computer programming. To help every student succeed, it’s imperative that opportunities to get to know technology are woven throughout the daily curriculum and learning environment. Let’s find out why a tech-rich education can give students an advantage in fields that have historically been seen as “low-tech” career paths.
Auto Mechanics“Instead of taking 8 hours to diagnose a car, you can do it in 30 minutes.” That’s the impact technology has had on auto mechanics according to Eddie Cathey, an instructor at the Excel Institute, which prepares students for careers in auto repair.
It only makes sense that the qualifications for a good auto mechanic already include increased computer skills. After all, vehicles are becoming progressively more advanced, with computers controlling everything from braking and engine management to navigation and in-car entertainment systems, not to mention the complicated electrical systems that make it possible for hybrid vehicles to be so fuel efficient.
Future mechanic Isaiah Smith put it this way: “Maybe one day you’re putting a new ECM into a brand-new car, and the next day you’re working on some 1985 rusted-out truck.” Problem solving, critical thinking, and computer skills all come together in this high-tech field.
JournalistsEvery facet of journalism, from newsgathering to distributing, has changed tremendously over the past few decades, thanks largely to the development of technology. The smartphone lets just about any journalist take on the role of photographer. Digital audio recorders make it possible to record interviews on the fly. Laptops, navigation systems, and smartphone apps also help journalists to become more efficient and stay connected. In the early days of the pandemic, journalists read the news from home offices—complete with a chic bookshelf backdrop.
Social media helps journalists with their research, allowing them to crowdsource and get regular updates directly from people on the scene. When it comes to reaching an audience, social media has contributed to exponential growth. Journalists report with live blogging and create podcasts and vodcasts. They also use platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok to tell their stories, just like citizen journalists.
ConstructionTools traditionally used in professions like engineering, architecture, and accounting are now commonplace in construction. Construction workers use design software, lasers, 3D models, drones, spreadsheets, and global positioning systems. They save time and eliminate redundant data entry by incorporating tech that manages payroll, tracks time, and assigns job codes, as well as imports, categorizes, and archives drawings.
High-tech construction companies can communicate more effectively. Smartphones give workers access to important information required for monitoring and controlling costs onsite, and sending quick updates from the field. With software like NoteVault, workers can “call in” notes that will be transcribed and automatically emailed, along with photos, in a daily report to project stakeholders.
Connectivity isn’t just a core part of the construction process—today’s buildings are increasingly smart. The internet of things connects HVAC, electric, and other systems in new buildings directly to a maintenance pro’s smartphone. Construction companies are expected to be able to handle installation and calibration of these smart devices. Even applicances—dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, and refridgerators—can require connectivity to networks in-home.
PlumbersThe Government of Canada posted a list of “essential skills for success as a plumber.” Computer use gets its own category on the list. There’s a reason high-tech plumbers are in high demand. The tools they use for diagnosing and fixing problems allow them to work more efficiently and cost-effectively, which provides the customer with an all-around better experience.
Today’s tech-savvy plumbers use video cameras attached to fiber optic cables to look inside pipes and determine where and what the issue is. They use hydro jets to clear blockages and electric drain augers to break up clogs. Plumbers with tech know-how can offer and install more technically advanced and sought-after solutions that save customers money, such as green dishwashers, greywater systems, or sprinklers that automatically shut off based on weather reports. Technicians at a Mr. Rooter Plumbing franchise in Texas use iPads for onsite access to paperwork, photos, and videos, and to see if parts are available.
Outside of the home or business, plumbing companies use technology to track their fleets with a GPS. They are better equipped to plan routes, reduce fuel waste, and ensure that drivers are arriving on time. Brandy Waugh, co-owner of the Amarillo-based Mr. Rooter, has found numerous benefits of her fleet tracking system. “By tracking a technician’s route, I can tell a customer exactly when the technician will arrive,” she said. “If a customer calls in a panic with an urgent request, I can find the closest technician and reroute him… If someone calls and complains that they were overcharged, I can look up the exact time that the technician arrived at the customer’s house and when he left.”
FarmingPerhaps some of the most staggering changes in recent history belong to the literal fields. Farmers are embracing technology to reduce waste and increase yield. Not only do planting and harvesting change with yield monitoring, but mapping means farmers waste less fertilizer and water. A fairly simple GPS light bar guides equipment so there’s no overlap in seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, or insecticides.
On the animal husbandry side of farming, robotic milking means cows are milked when they’re primed to produce the most, not on a clock schedule like in the olden days. Milk storage has also evolved. Machines will notify the farmer via push notifications on their smartphone if controls are accidentally changed.
The Technological EdgeAs you can see, even if a field hasn’t traditionally been “high-tech,” knowledge of technology and the ability to use high-tech tools help some professionals gain the upper hand. Prepare all of your students for 21st century success by integrating technology into your curriculum. Your tech-competent graduates will be much more likely to succeed in the years ahead as the tools we use continue to evolve.
Follow-up resource: Ag in the classroomGo On the Road with Lauren to see firsthand how students are exploring career paths.
|Casey Thompson Web & Digital Media Manager|