In 1999, Kevin Ashton coined the term “The Internet of Things” to describe a system where the Internet is connected to the physical world through ubiquitous sensors. While the core concepts of IoT are not new, it has expanded the notion of communication between different technological devices.
A “thing” in IoT can be a household device, an ingestible sensor, a heart monitoring implant, a smart contact lens, a vehicle, a water tank, a domesticated/wild animal, or any other object that can be integrated into the Internet by leveraging developments in smart sensors, mobile technology, Cloud Computing, and miniaturisation. IoT supported objects can be identified and located, and can collect, process, and exchange context aware data. An IoT-enabled world can facilitate innovative applications in almost all sectors, including manufacturing, mining, transportation, logistics, agriculture, environment, healthcare, assistive technology, energy, forestry, security, surveillance, traffic management, sports, smart homes, workplaces, retail, smart cities, waste management and so on.
IoT is now recognised as one of the main enabler technologies for realising many sustainable development goals. Recent data has shown that there is a world of opportunities for IoT-skilled engineers and professionals. In India, recruiters are announcing a variety of jobs such as IoT engineer, IoT Application developer, Firmware developer, Automation engineer, IoT security engineer, Full stack developer (IoT), DevOps engineer (IoT), IoT Architect, IoT Analyst, and so on.
In order to join IoT workforce, an engineer should be competent in programming, sensors, embedded systems, communication protocols, network and security, analytics, machine learning, cloud and edge computing, and so on. While Computer, Electronics, and Electrical Engineering students are exposed to these fields, other engineering students can also learn and combine this knowledge with their own core domain knowledge. For example, a Mechanical engineer can conceive and build interesting smart machines for a variety of users while Agriculture engineers can create smart farming machines and devices.
IoT applications are rapidly penetrating almost all spheres of our lives as well as industry with profound implications for both society and the economy. Policy makers and governments are going to use it as a main enabler for their programmes, schemes, and infrastructure projects. The IoT-enabled hyper-connected world will also throw up many unimaginable social, legal, and governance issues. Therefore, developing the required competencies will help Engineering students have a future-proof career.
IoT will also open up opportunities for other professionals such as architects, urban planners, product designers, UX designers, lawyers, managers, social scientists, and public administrators. Universities should prepare their students to lead the movement, by putting IoT at the core of their Engineering education and also infusing relevant modules about it in non-engineering programmes.
The writer is the Director of Institute of Engineering and Technology, JK Lakshmipat University