Engineering is a vast field, encompassing many different specialties. From mechanical and chemical engineering to civil, electrical and aerospace engineering, there are a variety of sectors within the industry. Combining technology with human ingenuity, engineering is advancing at a rapid pace. With plenty of innovation still to look forward to, take a glimpse of what the future of engineering holds:
1. Lifelong Learning
Lifelong learning is going to be essential for tomorrow’s engineers. When you work in an industry that evolves at high speed, you need to commit to learning new things consistently. It’s estimated that the half-life of engineering knowledge is just three to five years, which means you’ll be expected to acquire new skills and compute emerging theoretical concepts. While the skills you learn at the start of your career will no doubt inform your subsequent work, it’s vital to retain a thirst for knowledge and a willingness to learn if you want to build a long-term career as an engineer.
With this in mind, expect to see the future of engineering evolve to include increased learning opportunities. Companies will encourage their engineering staff to seek out learning opportunities, both in-house and via accredited qualifications, such as Master of Science qualifications, diplomas and Masters in Engineering Management.
2. Increased Automation
Unsurprisingly, increased automation will play a significant role in the future of engineering. Like most sectors, engineering firms are seeking to reduce their outgoings and optimize productivity by incorporating automation wherever possible. In engineering, however, increased automation doesn’t necessarily lead to fewer job opportunities.
For engineers, the possibilities that automation brings could actually increase jobs within the sector. The increased levels of precision which are achievable via automation can make seemingly impossible projects a reality, for example. For budding engineers and recent graduates, this shift towards automation opens up a whole new world of specialties to explore.
3. Ethical Engineering
The engineering industry has increasingly focused on ethical principles in recent years. In a bid to ensure the sector can operate as safely as possible, new regulations and codes have been introduced. Take a look at this blog post to find out more about the fundamental ethical principles that govern the industry, its managers and its workers. Of course, the ongoing importance of safety and welfare will ensure that ethical engineering management remains a mainstay of the profession.
However, there are other ways that ethical engineering is set to shape the future. Increased awareness surrounding climate change is placing more pressure on governments and businesses to embrace greener policies. With many nations aiming to become carbon neutral in the near future, ethical or green engineering is set to be in high demand.
4. Biomedical Engineering to Grow
While all engineering sectors are expected to grow in upcoming years, the biomedical specialty is set to be particularly buoyant. In the U.S. alone, the biomedical engineering sector is expected to grow 5% faster than average. Perhaps influenced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is greater awareness of the design and development of medical devices and equipment.
Furthermore, engineers will be faced with the challenge of creating sustainable biomedical products that can be produced in large quantities at relatively low prices. By achieving these goals, engineers could successfully ensure that medical treatment is available to a wider proportion of the global population and make universal healthcare an achievable target.
5. Focus on Photovoltaics
Photovoltaics is concerned with the conversion of light into electricity. To non-engineers, this essentially means solar power, although there is, of course, a lot more to the discipline. Photovoltaics has grown significantly in recent years, as evidenced by the widespread use of solar panels. However, we can expect to see even greater emphasis on photovoltaics in the future.
Developed nations are under pressure to reduce their respective carbon footprints and minimize their negative impact on the environment. By harnessing the power of photovoltaics, engineers can find new ways for manufacturers and businesses to reduce emissions and lower costs, without disrupting productivity.
In addition to this, the use of photovoltaics in emerging countries can help to ensure that a greater number of people have access to power. While electrical connectivity can be unreliable and fuel may be difficult or expensive to access, the sun provides sufficient light to generate a vast amount of power. With new technology, engineers can effectively bring make reliable and low-cost power accessible to millions of people in upcoming years.
Forging a Career in Engineering
As you can see, the future of engineering is set to be an exciting time. No matter what sector you choose, building a career in engineering gives you the opportunity to have a major impact on society and change the way we live, work and communicate. In addition to this, you’ll be able to use a wide range of skills in your day-to-day role, such as creativity, analytical thinking, scientific knowledge and mathematical prowess.
While engineering can provide you with a satisfying and fulfilling career, it also offers practical and financial rewards too. Engineering salaries are typically relatively high, even for new graduates. This ensures you can secure a lucrative position and enviable remuneration package as soon as you start working.
Furthermore, engineers will be able to enjoy greater flexibility when it comes to their working life. As the industry moves away from ‘one employer careers’, more engineers will operate on a project basis. This will give you the freedom to shape your career as the industry evolves and respond to both seismic and subtle changes.
With so many exciting changes already taking place, now is the perfect time to begin building a career as an engineer. As the demand for highly skilled engineers continues to grow, you can look forward to a wealth of job opportunities and the chance to choose exactly where you career will take you. While we can’t predict exactly what the future of engineering will look like or when it will arrive, there is one thing we can be sure of – you’ll want to be part of it.