Training and inspiring the next generation of infrastructure professionals is a significant but important task, a leader in digital engineering says.

Speaking to Sourceable as his company ramps up its new Bentley Education Program, Vinayak Trivedi, Vice President and Global Head – Bentley Education at the infrastructure design, construction, engineering, and maintenance software provider Bentley Systems, says the importance of developing a pipeline of future infrastructure professionals should not be underestimated.

Whilst Bentley had previously run a student education program for many years, Trivedi said the newly launched program responds to a need to broaden its reach to include students who may not otherwise have considered infrastructure as a career option.

“We need to reach out to them and inspire them,” Trivedi said.

“We needed to reach out to those who had not yet thought about the opportunities that exist within the infrastructure industry.

“This realisation did not lead to an evolutionary change, but rather a revolution in the way that we offer our education program.”

Launched in May, the newly overhauled program is open to students and educators at community colleges, technical institutes, polytechnics, universities, secondary schools, and home-schooled students.

A key component of the program is the Bentley Education Portal, through which students can access resources and learn about the industry whilst developing their skills in digital design.

Features include:

  • Insights from leading AEC professionals, sharing about what the industry has to offer and what skills are in demand
  • News and emerging trends in architecture, engineering, and construction
  • First-hand perspectives of current engineering students, mentors, and women in infrastructure engineering
  • Access at no cost to learning licences of over 40 of Bentley’s most popular software applications

The portal also serves as a gateway for students to submit their concepts for Bentley’s Future Infrastructure Star Challenge—a global competition where students submit ideas for large infrastructure projects that address critical environmental challenges, leverage technology such as the Internet of Things, and contribute toward global health and wellbeing.

Since its launch, the program has been made available in the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, Ireland, and Lithuania.

By mid-summer (mid-winter Australian time), Bentley will extend this to the United States, Canada, Mexico, Latin America, and India.

Trivedi said several factors lay behind the new program’s design.

First, the company wanted to expand the program’s reach and make it more accessible.

Toward this end, it has made access available at no charge to anyone who attends universities or schools in countries where the program is available.

In addition, the program’s reach has extended beyond university and college students to also include senior high and middle school children, who may not otherwise consider infrastructure as a career choice.

This, Trivedi said, reflected the company’s observation of a need to develop a future pipeline of infrastructure professionals.

It also reflected the need to equip the talent pool with the digital skills that are needed to help the industry to leverage new technology.

Next, the program aims to expand awareness of what can be achieved through infrastructure.

Toward this end, it aims to expand awareness about the contribution that infrastructure makes economic development, environmental sustainability, health and wellbeing, and social cohesion.

This, Trivedi said, is important. He said many young people seek careers through which they have a variety of opportunities and are able to make a meaningful contribution.

On this point, Trivedi said now is an ideal time to pursue a career in infrastructure amid opportunities afforded by government investment across many parts of the world.

This is taking place as the industry is being transformed by technologies such as 3D modelling, reality capture, digital twins, the Internet of Things, smart sensors, autonomous vehicles, 5G, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.

To generate student interest, meanwhile, the program aims to deliver an experience that is interesting, engaging, and inspiring.

It achieves this goal through:

  • Competitions, challenges, certifications, and badges that participants can earn and share
  • An overview of infrastructure and exposing students to leading projects throughout the world
  • Success stories

This last point, Trivedi said, is important.

One story he likes to share involves a female high school student from England, who previously wished to be a doctor but decided upon a career in infrastructure after participating in the program.

Through examples such as these, Trivedi said, the program helps not only to deliver a pipeline of future professionals but also to expand the racial and gender diversity within this pipeline.

Finally, the program aims to meet students at their needs.

Toward this end, it extends beyond providing access to Bentley software and includes insights from AEC professionals; news and emerging trends in architecture, engineering, and construction; and exposure to mentors and peers.

Simultaneously, the program helps to prepare students for the workplace through building their resume and their professional network.

Trivedi said opportunities in infrastructure should not be underestimated.

“There has never been a better time than now to get into the infrastructure and AEC industry,” Trivedi said.

“It’s not only just a job that today’s students are looking to. They are looking for a career that is fulfilling and in which they can make an impact on the quality of life. Infrastructure is one of the best fields for that.

“Bentley’s tagline is that we advance infrastructure and, therefore, advance economies and the environment.

“Now comes the digital revolution, and the digitisation that is happening.

“A lot of students are attracted to that.”