We’re living in a time of extreme and rapid change: every industry is being disrupted by AI or automation, new technology that increases efficiencies but drastically changes the workplace landscape. Some experts predict that by 2050 there won’t be single human working on a construction site or factory.
Over the next three decades we’ll see more development and changes in the field of engineering than possibly ever before. Some elements of machinery will be autonomous and self-assembling, more of our data will be collected, and our cities, workplaces and homes will be radically changed. The population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, with two thirds living in cities and urban areas.
You can read the UK Government’s Manifesto For The Future Of Engineering to learn what legislation and initiatives are planned, or read on to see what’s predicted for the future of engineering.
How Engineering Will Change Over the Next Three Decades:
1. Engineering Will Become Safer
With every large-scale technological upgrade in the engineering industry comes a rise in safety levels. As we move into a new age of unprecedented technological power and control, we may too be moving towards a working world of zero harm; engineers who may once have been working in dangerous fields would find themselves in safer working conditions thanks to AI overseers, automated safety protocols and stronger defensive measures than ever before.
2. Wearable Technology Will Become Commonplace
Leading on from the previous point about safety, part of this will be due to wearable technology. Wearable tech may take many forms, but in the field of engineering many are proposing wearing exoskeletons to increase strength, reflexes, safety and productivity. These wearable suits, which previously were only seen in science fiction, may soon make workplace accidents a thing of the past.
Read the 5 Technical Innovations of 2018.
3. Concrete and Steel Will Be Replaced with Smart Materials
Smart materials have been around for decades but haven’t yet superseded traditional building materials. As we move into a more futuristic world, buildings may be constructed of entirely different materials to allow them respond to stimuli instead of being passive structures. Self-healing materials can react to damage or long-term wear and tear by repairing themselves over time. Other materials can turn walls into solar panels so our cities generate the very energy they run on. Any materials that can lessen or even absorb carbon emissions will be in high demand as the world becomes more focused on reducing pollution.
4. New Jobs Will Be Created
Some jobs will be entirely automated by 2050. However, new jobs will emerge in unexpected ways into unexpected fields that don’t exist today. By all forecasts, half of children in school today will work in jobs that currently don’t exist.
Engineering must become more agile, with flexible workers with a variety of soft and interpersonal skills, as well as a focus on creativity, design, and analysis. These are skills and qualities that machines cannot replicate and will help the engineering workforce to continue to drive progress forward.
Here are 7 of the Best Engineering Companies to Work For.
5. Cyber-Crime Will Become More Frequent
As the Internet of Things becomes more connected and widespread, almost everything in our homes and workplaces will be connected to the internet. Smart appliances could leave us vulnerable on a societal and personal level to cyber-crime. Protection will need to be implemented at every level, starting with the Government and moving down from business to individual. Critical infrastructure must be protected as a priority to prevent cyber-attacks on our health service, police or military. Best practice must be established and followed to ensure everyone is as safe as possible.
6. Infrastructure Will Change
As the world changes, the infrastructure that supports the world will have to change as well. As cars become electric we’ll see more charging ports. As cars start flying we’ll see landing pads or flight towers where there were none before.
Our towns and cities will change to support new modes of transport, new ways of living and working, and will likely be almost unrecognisable to us now. The infrastructure we’re beginning to see today must be future-proofed for the technology of tomorrow, able to adapt or be redesigned to integrate with an ever-changing technological landscape.
Learn about The Skills You Need To Become An Engineer, or read about how Engineering Already Impacts Every Part Of Modern Life.