I've worked almost exclusively in academic research for the past few years. I'm now seeking a new job, and am considering working in an applied non-academic setting. This means I'm applying for a number of jobs for which I do not meet the professional background requirements as written, but I for which I still believe myself well qualified based on my skills and experience.
When writing cover letters for these applications, I'm unsure whether I should simply sell myself on the basis of my skills and academic experience, or specifically seek to assuage any concerns that my background may not match the employer's expectations.
For example, imagine I were applying for a position on an engineering team. The job posting might require a BA in engineering plus two years of engineering experience (which I don't have) as well as familiarity with [problems ABC] and [technologies XYZ] (which I have in spades).
My cover letter in this case would presumably have a section covering my most recent work experience and its relevance to the new position, such as the one below. I'm unsure if it would be stronger with or without the bolded sentences. (Please note that this is just an example; I'm not looking for feedback on this specific paragraph or how to apply for this specific hypothetical engineering job)
Though I have never before worked for an engineering firm, I believe my background makes me a strong candidate for this position. Most recently, I worked as a Research Technician for Dr. SmartyPants at Prestigious University. In this position I was responsible for a groundbreaking research project related to problems A, B, and C, which relied upon technologies X, Y, and Z. While this position may have responsibilities that are new for me, I am confident that I will be able to bring myself up to speed quickly. During my project at Prestigious U. I was required to self-teach the necessary methodology and background and also periodically collaborated with and learned from some of the leading experts in the field.
I understand that you're generally not supposed to bring up your weaknesses in a cover letter. However, this advice is generally given in the context of things weaknesses that your prospective employer wouldn't consider without your mentioning them. In this case a cursory glance at my resume would reveal that I am attempting to enter a new field, so I wonder if it's worth it to discuss this explicitly.
Edit for clarity and emphasis: The question isn't about whether I have some sort of obligation to be honest or humble. I understand that a cover letter should be an enthusiastic sales pitch. I'm wondering whether it's possible to make the pitch more effective by including a theme along the lines of, "I know my experience isn't what you were expecting, but let me convince you that it's what you need".