Over the next two decades engineering is going to change almost every single aspect of our lives. With the Internet of Things making our possessions and homes more connected, we’ll be part of a much larger global network, and this extends into the world of engineering and manufacturing as well.
Engineering always aims to make our lives easier, and this will be seen as we move into the age of hyper-connectivity, with numerous products, gadgets, and smart home accessories helping us in everyday life.
Another key element of engineering is to help make our lives safer. Engineering has always been focused around improving the world, and as we move into an uncertain future the industry will have to work harder to fix complex problems only growing in urgency.
The engineering industry as a whole will focus on green energy and sustainability. With grim predictions about the future of the planet, and increasing evidence that something drastic needs to be done soon, engineering may try to reduce emissions across the industry.
Renewable energy is set to boom over the next few years as we reach a pivotal point in the amount of carbon in our atmosphere. Nearly half of the world’s energy is set to come from renewable sources by 2040, but engineering has the potential to radically improve the planet’s energy situation far sooner through more efficient storage and transfer. Carbon capture is also likely to grow over the coming decade and should be factored into the manufacturing process.
Reducing energy consumption makes practical sense for the engineering industry as it will save money and allow for more to be done with the energy there is. However emissions from that energy usage must also be lowered if the planet is to remain habitable for the next century and beyond.
AI allows for superior analysis across the grid, and can highlight areas where energy could be used more efficiently. The sector is also working on better energy storage, meaning high value energy is less likely to be wasted, making the engineering sector (and by extension the rest of the world) a more energy efficient place.
We are now able to access the internet almost anywhere we go, even underground and in the skies. 5G promises to be the next step in the information revolution, allowing faster, more stable connections for video messaging, streaming, and potentially new forms of communication that aren’t yet possible.
The main benefit of the technology is speed, with some experts claiming we’ll see download speeds higher than 1Gb/s. It will also have much lower latency, which is vital for autonomous cars which may be using the network for navigation.
It can unlock greater potential for VR and AR systems and applications. Holographic video may soon be a reality thanks to the significantly higher amount of data that can be sent and received. This has big implications for our professional and personal lives, and could change the way we communicate and connect with each other.
The fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, is the term that has been applied to the digital transformation within the engineering industry. This revolution is being most felt through three new elements of technology: additive manufacturing, simulation through VR and AR technology, and IoT sensors to allow for real-time data and communication.
According to a government commissioned review, thanks to Industry 4.0, the UK manufacturing sector will gain around £455 billion in added revenue and 175,000 jobs over the next decade.
Blockchain has a variety of uses beyond cryptocurrency. It can track goods, and provide a new level of cyber security. Blockchain acts as an incorruptible ledger, providing security for both senders and recipients of messages and data. This has big implications for manufacturing, trade, and everyone working in the engineering sector.
The engineering industry has been facing a critical skills shortage for a long time, and this may worsen as the industry becomes more technical and specialised. This means that costs attached to attracting top engineering talent will increase. This could potentially be offset by hiring managers going after candidates with unconventional skills or experience.
This essentially will mean looking at potential instead of experience, which could lead to a paradigm shift in recruitment in general. This will likely build loyalty in employees, leading to increased skill development over time.
All these developments will impact the engineering industry in various ways, and will no doubt change how candidates approach applying for engineering jobs.
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