Image: shutterstock_268664345-Copyright Omelchenko
Every day, new patents are filed, prototypes are built and a technology brings us that much closer to science fiction. But, our real progress and innovations are much more compelling and significant than+ those found in fantasy. As we continue to develop new ideas and solutions, we’re simultaneously making the world a better place by improving technology’s accessibility and speed. One industry that’s feeling this the most? Engineering. The future of engineering is limitless, but here are a few emerging trends and innovations that we see on the horizon.
Every century is marked and defined by an energy revolution. First, it was hydropower and harnessing the energy of falling water to power mills and create electricity. Then, with the discovery of coal, petroleum and natural gas, we created systems that ran on fossil fuels. Today, we’re moving away from these environmentally harmful fuels and utilizing more renewable energy sources, like wind and solar energy.
With the looming threat of climate change, our current energy practices no longer apply. Alternative fuels and energy sources will become the norm. Companies like Tesla, Inc. are already driving impact with their electric supercars, and countries like Sweden and India are turning biomass waste into energy, fueling their nations’ efficiency and sustainability. The next generation of scientists from top engineering colleges will be under incredible pressure to develop new sustainable energy systems — and with commercial demand, it’s anyone’s guess how sustainability will look in the coming years.
Data Is King
According to IBM, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day — that’s the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of GPS signals, vacation photos and videos that need to be housed in massive data warehouses.
Data and software engineers are the brains behind the global data storage operation and are working diligently to maintain and protect our information. But as access to the Internet continues to grow across the globe, future engineers will need to create better, more efficient systems that can accommodate this increase in data.
Students studying data analytics will soon find themselves in lucrative and valuable STEM careers with newer, more efficient tools that will help make data-driven decisions easier and more insightful.
Future Health Care, Medicines and Technologies
Every year, billions of dollars are spent on medical research in just the States alone. As we learn more about the complex networks and systems of the human body, advanced research pushes the boundaries of what is possible.
Engineers now flock to medical and health care professions, utilizing their expertise in complex electric systems, chemistry and nanotechnology to develop treatments for cancer, build cybernetic technologies and improve diagnostic tools.
Ambitious companies are also looking for solutions to improve current blood testing methods. Using advanced sensors and microchips, they can screen small amounts of blood for illnesses and improve testing efficiency while helping patients get treatment sooner. Testing for cancer with a simple drop of blood or growing viable organs in labs isn’t that far away — especially as more companies show a vested interest in this technology.
Even though predicting the future is not an exact science, based on today’s innovations and discoveries, it’s safe to say that the future of engineering will build off this momentum. In the next decade, it’s likely that we’ll see engineers continue doing what they do best — innovating and helping move the world forward.
Author: Scott Rhodes – Vice Provost of Enrollment. With an 18-year background in higher education, Scott Rhodes leads enrollment and recruitment strategies for Florida Polytechnic University. His responsibilities encompass undergraduate admissions, graduate enrollment and enrollment marketing, financial aid, student records and registration and enrollment market research.