Formulating a life-long habit of learning can be a very important aspect in the continued development of an engineer. Or any person, really. The simplest way is with on-the-job-training. Some managers are very good at teaching. If you don’t have a mentor, you should find one, usually where you work. And the mentor/mentee relationship certainly doesn’t have to be a one-way road. You can and should learn from one-another.
Okay Bryan, and then what? Well, the obvious response would be to take a college course or pursue a college degree. Certainly nothing wrong there. I went back to grad school as a “non-traditional” student to earn my master’s degree. I would never undo that. It was one of the best things I have ever done for my career as well as for my own personal development.
And then what? What else do you have? Conferences, seminars and short courses. My advice is to chose carefully. We all have a limited time/dollar budget for this type of thing. I’d advise you to look at the organizer, the speakers and the titles of their talks. Not that titles mean everything, but at least it is a start meaning. Undoubtedly, you’ll attend some talks that don’t live up to their hype.
One of the things I really like to do is to watch free, archived online lectures. There are a lot of them, and if you don’t care for the content, you can stop watching it. One of my favorite sources is Peter Robertson, whom I consider to be a personal friend and mentor. You can find several informative videos here: Dr. Peter K. Robertson – Professor Emeritus, Geotechnical Engineering (cpt-robertson.com). A really good one on critical states soil mechanics by Mike Jefferies is here: Bentley Systems Events – Webinars – OnDemand (on24.com). It can actually be pretty addictive to search for and watch theses. I say, give it a try! What do you have to lose?