Not many people are exactly sure what an advanced systems engineer is, but it's widely considered one of the hottest jobs in all the land. The trouble is there just aren't very many of them around.
Within the context of IT, an advanced systems engineer is a person with expertise in systems, software and networking that can create a useful product or IT solution based on components from all these various disciplines. This differs from your everyday systems engineer who too often is a specialist in only one particular IT discipline.
But according to Ben Amaba, worldwide software sales executive for the IBM Software Group, business customers are looking for advanced systems engineers that are skilled enough in multiple IT disciplines to create an IT-drive solution to a particular business challenge. To help increase the pool of advanced systems engineers, IBM has announced that it is investing $2 million in the form of software and in-kind donations in the University of Florida's Institute for Advanced Systems Engineering.
Amaba said the University of Florida is one of a handful of schools that are responding to business demand for cross-discipline engineers. Companies, he said, are growing increasingly tired of having to cobble together teams of systems specialists to create a solution. They want either an advanced systems engineer to lead those teams, or in many cases, reduce the need for expensive specialists.
Individuals with degrees in advanced systems engineering will provide a unique perspective on how best to build the types of IT solutions that IBM is trying to create under its Smarter Planet umbrella, he said. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, systems engineers will be among the fastest-growing job categories over the next decade, with estimates of new jobs in the sector reaching as high as 656,400 new positions.
The days when the IT industry was dominated by systems, storage, software and networking specialists may be numbered as more emphasis is placed on convergence. The challenge, said Amaba, is finding enough people that can see the business possibilities that all that convergence enables.