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Where is Engineering Going In

So, where IS it going? by rhodie
Posted: 14 Jul 03 (Edited 15 Jul 03)

Where is Engineering Going in the Next 5 Years?

The answer to this question depends largely on where in Engineering you find yourself.  It seems alternative energies, bio-mechanicals, and composite materials are promising areas of development.

If you live in the USA, you might find that a sizeable amount of manufacturing (and the subsequent engineering) is moving overseas.  In a literal sense, in the next 5 years Engineering is going, well...  away.

If you live in Asia or India, you might find yourself awash in opportunity!  The recent industrial boom you've experienced will serve you and your society well.  You might parallel your situation to the west's great Industrial Revolution of the 1890's, but you have all the benefits of 100+ years of technological advancement available to make your job easier, faster, and more productive.  Then again, in some of these areas, you might find that even now the "boom" is tapering off and academic interest is being directed elsewhere.  Global politics, trade agreements, and geo-economics will play a huge role in all of our futures.

If you ask the above question in a less political manner, then would might find that Engineering in 5 years time will tend to evolve into a more "mainstream" professional position.  Gone are the days of "Engineers, Doctors, and Lawyers" representing the "top of the totem pole" of professions.  (Many) Engineers in the future will likely be more diverse, more generalized, and subsequently less paid.  Some contributing factors of this situation have been the lack of public understanding of the "engineering profession", lack of a protective professional organization, and the deemphasis of the value of Professional Certification.

Industrial Exemption opens the field of engineering up to a great many more (capable!) persons, but at the same time stretches the encompassing boundaries of what is considered "engineering".  We all tend to agree there is a big difference between our "engineering" jobs and the local Sanitation "Engineer" who muscles trashbags for a living.

The challenges all of us face in Engineering during the next 5 years will be:

1. Continue to press (and utilize) communications technology.  The advent of the Internet has supplemented our professional lives in an absurd fashion, as proven by this website, http://www.eng-tips.com

2. Continue to break the "glass ceiling".  Women and minorities should not have to negotiate barriers in order to become engineers.

3. Continue our education and learning.  No generation before us has had the vast resources of information we appreciate. The advancements of our single generation should rival the great "ages" of the past, lest we squander our advantage.

4.  Standardization.  Will the metric movement of now 30 years win any ground?  A question of the ages.

5.  Encourage young people to become engineers.  The world is often far short of good analytical thinkers with common sense.  The "best and brightest" have been identifed as moving outside the field of engineering, so the burden is for us to actively recruit.  

...our future may very well depend on it.


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