Enhancing Education In IoT Development

Sensors Insights by Alicia Asín

The educational gap between skills demanded by Internet of Things (IoT) companies and the practical knowledge of the workforce could decrease (endanger) the expected growing of the market. Only 120 students out of 1,200 worldwide participants were able to finish the first edition of a free online educational program.

The best well-known research companies are continuously publishing reports with estimates and forecasts on the burgeoning IoT market, including device growth, amount invested, and potential return on investment. But there is an important reality that only a few warn of: the educational gap and practical knowledge absence to cover the workforce needed to develop IoT solutions.

The last Business Insider Intelligence report (July 2016) forecasts that there will be 34 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, and Gartner predicted in the symposium held six months ago that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from 2015. Moreover, IoT devices will account for 24 billion by 2020, while traditional computing devices, e.g., smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, etc., will comprise 10 billion. They also states that nearly $6 trillion will be spent on IoT solutions over the next five years.

Current students must select their degrees knowing that around 4.5 million emerging job positions will involve working as an IoT developer and technology progresses so fast that demand is growing daily. In fact, 26% of European companies do not find the right profiles for their vacant positions. The IoT market opens new opportunities for electronic and computing engineers and Libelium is focusing on education by training current students to be the future leaders in the sector.

Nevertheless, the fact is that today only 10% of 1,200 student participants were capable of finishing the first edition of The IoT Spartans Challenge, the online educational program opened to find the IoT developers among worldwide engineering universities and technical schools. Twelve universities actively engaged the challenge and were expected to publish a ranking with, at least, 300 finalists.

But reality shows that students are not effectively prepared to follow the practical lessons in IoT development and less than 50% finish the challenge. Essentially, the danger is not in slowing IoT adoption but in ensuring its functional continuity in the long term.

Due to the increasing demand for IoT solutions and the initiatives of the company, Libelium's workforce grows at a rate of 30% per year. The aim of this training program is to cover the gap between the skills demanded by IoT companies and the practical knowledge of future developers studying computer science and/or electronic engineering today.

Webinars and exams in the educational program are not only for gifted students. They are based on the practical developments that established staff must deal with daily. From all the international universities enrolled, Technological University of Panama was the first classified and there were also three individual winners from Italy (Emanuele Goldoni), Tunisia (Khaled Brahem), and Spain (Sergio López). All three have attained specific IoT knowledge that will extend their technical education, help to freshen up their job skills, and prepare them for a professional career in the IoT world.

However, a promising future can be further guaranteed only if we all help to ensure it. For this reason, the education team at Libelium is already preparing the second edition of The IoT Spartans Challenge that will start in January 2017. The platform will remain open during the summer to give universities and schools the opportunity to organize summer camps with an emphasis on the necessary electronics studies.

This should be a shared commitment of corporate and social responsibility including governments, educational institutions, and private companies to reinforce employment opportunities for future generations. The more "Spartans" we have for the future, the greater the IoT market will be. And the faster it will reach our companies and lives.

About the Author

Alicia Asín is the CEO and co-founder of Libelium and a computer engineer focused on how IoT can change our world, starting with Smart Cities and smart agriculture. She is a frequent speaker at international conferences on issues related to Smart Cities, wireless sensor networks and IoT. Alicia holds a master's degree in computer engineering from the Polytechnic Center, University of Zaragoza, and is a graduate of the Cambridge Judge Business School and ESADE.

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