Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Michael J. Cima: It’s more about skills than knowledge

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Michael J. Cima

Posted: Saturday, May 25, 2013 12:00 am

Knowledge has been a key to wealth and prosperity for centuries. That is true today to some extent. Google and Facebook, for example, are amassing large aggregates of proprietary data to bolster their corporate wealth.

Increasingly, however, we as individuals live in a world where knowledge is just a few clicks away. The key to prosperity is becoming more focused on what an individual can do rather than what they know. Skills are the ticket to a rewarding future. The more skills you have, the more chance you have of success.

How should education respond? Well, I tell students to think of degrees (high school, college, professional programs, etc.) as only part of what they need for an education. They need to build a portfolio of skills and show how they have tested those skills. I am often asked to interview scientists, engineers, and designers for positions in large companies or start-ups. Many interviewees show up with the conventional CV, with its list of degrees and chronological employment record. The people who stand out arrive with a box of things they have designed or built. Sometimes it is a portfolio book with pictures of projects they have organized or individuals they have helped. These are evidence of skills, not what they know.

Accumulating skills does not end with a degree. The degree is just the end of the runway. The plane takes off from there. You have spent four years getting up to speed and now you are ready to take off. Climbing higher requires constant attention to diversification of your abilities. It is not hard. It can keep life interesting to discover new skills.

What skills are the most important? My answer is that the particular skill is not as important as its level. A skill becomes valuable only when you can use it to be creative; to create something that has not existed before; to invent. A musician, for example, may spend years learning the technical aspects of an instrument. One day something clicks and they are playing music never heard before.

Finally, people with great skills know how to improvise. Accomplishment in the face of adversity depends on being able to improvise. You know you have reached the pinnacle of your abilities when you can get results not only when conditions are perfect, but also when they are difficult.

Dr. Michael J. Cima is the David H. Koch Professor of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Faculty Director of the Lemelson-MIT Program. He holds or shares numerous patents and is a co-inventor of MIT’s three-dimensional printer. He is a Lodi High School graduate, Class of 1977.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 16 hours ago by Mike Adams.

article: Letter: U.S. suffers from total lack of…

OK, Kevin, not trying to pick on you here but.....cops backgrounds are checked fairly thouroghly now. Unfortunately, the psychological tes…

More...

Posted 17 hours ago by Thomas Heuer.

article: Letter: U.S. suffers from total lack of…

Now when police take the job they do assume the inherent risks this is absolutely and fundamentally true. There are no allusions this is an…

More...

Posted 18 hours ago by Jien Kaur.

article: Letter: U.S. suffers from total lack of…

"WHY? Cause he was tired of cops. Nothing this cop did warranted his death and nothing he could have done could have prevented it.&quo…

More...

Posted 18 hours ago by Jien Kaur.

article: Steve Hansen: California’s Christmas gi…

If I have to trade higher gas price for NOT living anywhere in the Middle East, or India, or China - huge air pollution rate (why does any…

More...

Posted 18 hours ago by Ed Walters.

article: Letter: U.S. suffers from total lack of…

Paglia: Of course you can tell a bad cop from a good cop, a bad cop has a patch on his shoulder saying I`m a bad cop, its as simple as th…

More...

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

What was the biggest local story of 2014?

It has been an eventful year in Lodi, from the antics of a wild turkey named Tom Kettleman to the announced closure of the General Mills plant. What do you see as the biggest story of the year?

Total Votes: 120

Loading…

Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists