The Half Life of Knowledge in Engineering


"2005: "The half-life of knowledge has become miniscule in many fields. Having once undergone training or holding a degree or degrees is not enough. Lifelong learning is essential to competitiveness."

The American Academy of Political and Social Science "
estimated the half-life of an engineer's skills in 1986 at
-  2.5 years in software engineering,
5.0 years in electrical engineering..."

IN 2001 "the half-life of an engineering degree is now projected to be something like seven years"

IN 2002, Penn State noted that "the half-life of one’s Internet/Web knowledge obsoletes every two years"

"Where technologies and training once changed every 20 years, today the half-life of rapidly advancing technologies may be anywhere between three and five years.

Such rapid development requires the education of current workers and professionals in the latest technological advances and related applications."



"Pace of Change

And lastly, the pace of change in itself is a change. There was a workshop at the academy before I got there, so I heard about this indirectly. They were talking about the pace of change and somebody proposed a measure of the rate of change as the "half-life of engineering knowledge".

In this workshop, they estimated that the half-life of engineering knowledge varied by field, but the limits they put on it were 2.5 years up to 7.5 years.

So, half of what we are teaching our students in some fields
- (computer science, by the way, was the field of 2.5 years)
is obsolete by the time they graduate.
"