The Institution of Engineering and Technology has released its 2015 edition of “Ones to Watch”. The report covers dynamic and fast-growing industries which will impact the future demands on engineering skills in the United Kingdom and presumably the world.
The trend areas are chosen since they address macro factors such as climate change, energy security, food production and the usage of scarce resources. These areas are claimed to be the defining issues for the present generation and they demand solutions today in order to secure future wellbeing.
The report (available here) is quite extensive, thus we have compiled the trends and the key takeaways for our dear readers:
1. New Power Networks: The Rebirth of Electricity|
Suppliers are replacing coal with a mix of renewables and other low carbon emission sources whereas costumers are turning towards low carbon electricity for heating homes and workplaces. There is a vast growth in job opportunities, but lower skilled jobs will be singled out in favor for jobs with demands for higher skill. The emergence of smart grids is also a propelling factor in the change progress and a rapidly growing number of jobs for engineers.This massive trend is also creating a new generation of SMEs that function as technology developers within the sector.
2. Space: The Surprising Frontier|
There is an impactful revival for the space interest across industrialized nations. The competition is not about a race to the moon anymore, but rather to manufacture satellites for providing surveillance and services to the earth as well as equipment that can help us exploit the resources in our solar system. The report claims that there is a need for governments to support citizens by managing floods, monitor weather systems, mapping land use and coordinating emergency services. Also, the scope and reach of satellite enabled consumer services is set to grow substantially in the coming years.
3. Cyber Security: Beyond the Internet |
We trust our smartphones and other networked devices with increasingly extreme amounts of information. With this dependency comes vulnerability, not only from targeted attacks but also from system failure. When digital networks fail costs gather rapidly and disruptions are frustrating the public as well as companies. Networks are at the heart of manufacturing processes and a wide array of other infrastructure in the corporate world. The professional and the public sphere will widen and deepen their reliance on these networks and demand them to function. The emergence of cyber-physical systems and the Internet of Things further increases the demand for reliable services and job opportunities are substantial.
4. Additive Manufacturing: A New Industrial Revolution|
Today, only a small fraction of commercial manufacturing is using additive manufacturing in its processes. However, the technology is rapidly evolving and is nonetheless already creating a huge impact in the way manufacturing works. Two thirds of manufacturing companies already practices some form of 3D-printing and the industrial powerhouse General Electric says that within five years 50% of its products will include 3D-printed parts, compared to 10% as of today. At the moment, the main job opportunities lie at basic research level but in the near future there will be a great need for people operating and maintaining machines. Additive manufacturing carries huge opportunities within the future evolution of logistics, large-scale manufacturing, printing materials and consistency of quality and the benefits range from rapid prototyping and short-run production to customization and general innovation.
5. Food Security: Sufficiency in a Changing World|
Global population growth will mean increased competition for food resources and climate change is on the way to change the world as we know it. The UN Food Agency predicts that the world will need 60% more food by year 2050. The ability to achieve a balance between food production and sustainability is a core issue. The food production sector is currently seen as the single largest threat to the prosperity of the world’s fauna. The macro factors will necessitate development in areas such as genetics, nutrition, crop science and synthetic biology. However, even more development is predicted within the fields of data-driven insight by using satellites, remote sensors, meteorology and other parts within agricultural engineering. Farms and fields are, together with the military arena, the places where robotics is predicted to make its first major impact, with many more famous industries coming far behind.
6. Robotics: Smart Machines on the March|
We have for years been watching more and more robots and automated solutions emerge from the shadows. Today, robots are widely deployed in industries such as automotives and food production – but we have just witnessed the beginning. Robots are increasingly becoming smarter and they are set to become a big part of our future. Fields such as mining, healthcare, aerospace, agriculture and transport will be highly affected by this development. The aging society, the lacking sustainability in agriculture, manufacturing competitiveness etc. poses challenges that indicate robots to be our biggest hope. The opportunities for entrepreneurial endeavors and employment possibilities within this field appear endless.
Together, these trends paint an interesting picture of where the world is heading. Let’s face it; most substantial developments in the world are due to skillful engineering. It is an interesting list from a trendwatcher’s perspective, since it deviates from many lists posted on popular business websites. In that way, we hope that these developments will sharpen the larger perspective of world progression, issues and opportunities within the above mentioned areas.
Stay tuned for more trend reports in other areas to come soon, it is that time of the year after all.