Shortly before the American Revolution, there was another worldwide revolution: the Industrial Revolution. Jobs that were originally performed through hard labor began to be automated. Inventions have come fast and furious since then. From steam powered looms and treadle sewing machines to advanced robots capable of assembling cars, these machines threaten the very basis of the work-for-pay society. The marketplace will have to catch up by providing new jobs that fit the new paradigm. One of those highly technical jobs is the vision engineer.

The Vast Scope of Machine Automation

A vision engineer must be able to communicate with and maintain the operation of dozens of machines and their accompanying processes. These machines are everywhere in the 21st century, from food packing plants to the Class-10 clean rooms of pharmaceutical companies. The basis of the milieu is machine vision, which is also known as computer vision.

Machine vision is the concept that a computer or machine can “see.” Either that will be through direct video feeds, analog-to-digital conversion, the processing of digital signals, or a combination of these things. These machines and computers are programmed to recognize objects or symbols as part of their overall function. The most common of these with which people interact on a daily basis is the UPC reader at the local supermarket. The machine reads the bar code and instantly knows which product is involved. Other examples include retinal scanners, handwriting analyzers, and counterfeit currency detectors.

The Training Involved

People who design and maintain these devices must be able to craft software to run and troubleshoot them. They must also be able to perform repair work on the items and also create “machines to watch the machines.” The engineers must also be able to communicate the concepts regarding the running of these machines in an understandable way to customers and other support personnel.

At a minimum, the person must have a bachelor’s degree in the appropriate field. The person must be multilingual in computer languages and be well-versed enough with graphics design to make both simple and complex interfaces that control the machines. Many times, but not always, at least five, or even 10, years’ experience is required.

Because these engineers oversee many aspects of a project, and in many cases entire projects, management skills and training are important assets to have. The highly specialized nature of the necessary skills for these engineering positions makes people who have them in high demand.

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In a world of ever-increasing population and an ever-decreasing number of jobs, most of the new positions will be those that allow human beings to retain control over the coming onslaught of automated processes and robots. In 1760, the engineers had to know how to control steam and make sure the water wheels kept turning. In 1960, they had to know how to make transistors and tough, long-lasting plastics. In 2060, they might need to know how to make sure the automated fly-by-wire controls on the latest flying car interact with ground radar. The job of vision engineer is crucial for the evolving economy.