Since mankind landed on the moon fifty years ago, our technological progress has rapidly expanded across every single sector and discipline of science. Thanks to technology developed specifically for the Apollo-11 mission, we now have computer circuits, liquid-cooled garments for race drivers and firefighters, and better insulation for our homes.
Innovation builds on innovation, the internet wouldn’t have been possible without the first computers, today’s smartphones wouldn’t exist without the giant mobiles of the nineties. 5G is already a reality, building on existing 4G and 3G technology.
As battery technology has allowed us to store more power in smaller cells, we can now carry computers in our pockets, our cars can drive for miles on a single charge, and we can harness the power of the sun more efficiently than ever.
Technology Of The Future
We are seeing new technology being developed at a prodigious rate. Companies invested $11.1 trillion into digital transformation last year, with more importance being placed on cloud storage, data capture and analysis, and machine learning.
Technology which is commonplace today like AI and additive manufacturing was the stuff of science fiction at the start of the century, but will have a huge impact in the most important areas of our society: energy, aviation, aerospace, transport, and medicine.
Over the next five years, we’ll likely see more AI and IoT-enabled devices and objects in our homes and workplaces. Facebook, Google, and Youtube already use AI in their products. Over the next few years, these AI systems will become more refined, more accurate, and more prevalent in our everyday lives.
Leading on from this, robotics is of course an ever-accelerating field of study. Robots are becoming smarter, more dextrous, and are increasingly able to understand the human world. Over the next decade we’ll see more and more robots in the workplace, but also on our streets. Thanks to machine learning, soon robots won’t have to programmed for one specific task: they’ll be able to learn on the job.
Blockchain is another technology poised to revolutionise how we handle data, communications, and cyber security. While the technology has primarily been used for cryptocurrency, it could be applied to provide secure end-to-end communications, unreadable by anyone other than the sender and the intended recipient.
Quantum computing has only become a possibility thanks to decades of innovations, research, and engineers striving for more powerful computers. Using concepts originally developed in theoretical physics, quantum computing utilises subatomic particles’ ability to exist in more than one place at any given moment. This means operations can be done faster, using less energy, making the computer more efficient. We’ll likely see quantum computers becoming more frequent by the end of the decade, making older models obsolete.
What Does This Mean For Engineering?
Engineering is currently in the middle of a skills shortage. New technology is constantly being created, and old systems are always being improved, meaning there is an increasingly high skill ceiling for engineers.
Engineers who have been in the industry for five years may already have skills on obsolete systems, materials, or designs. Engineers who have been in the field for fifteen years likely have gaps in their knowledge that would require training to keep up with new apprentices and graduates.
The level of technological innovation is currently moving faster than we’re training new engineers, meaning we’re heading to a point where there aren’t enough qualified professionals to work on the newest systems.
This can only be addressed by getting more young people into engineering, and training those already in the field to work on the newest technology.
Technical recruitment companies are one of the best way engineering companies can stay ahead of the skills shortage, ensuring they have the very best talent to keep building the technology of the future.