Some workers see technological breakthroughs as a mixed blessing for their careers.
Innovations such as AI (artificial intelligence) are advancing development in various engineering areas, but they are also eliminating the need for some workers.
Engineers have nothing to fear from these advances, however. They alone have the training and the experience to harness these new applications to improve industry productivity and the quality of life for millions.
Certain engineering branches stand to benefit more than others from tech innovation, including electrical, mechanical, computer and software engineering.
Here are some technologies that have influenced the development in these engineering fields:
Basically, systems that can act and think like humans are dubbed AI. You already use AI on a daily basis by operating your smartphone or asking Alexa to give you the weather forecast.
These systems are leading to the elimination of some positions. In fact, experts estimate that about half of all jobs will be eliminated due to automation, which relies on AI tech.
Engineers do not need to be afraid of this trend, however. You will be needed to help create, test and maintain AI systems.
With the help of these advanced programs, engineers will be able to more efficiently perform their duties and find solutions to complex problems.
All engineering branches will benefit from this technology, but those in computer engineering will definitely thrive the most.
Recycling Radio Waves
Manos Tentzeris and his research team have created an electromagnetic energy harvester that gathers ambient energy from the radio frequency spectrum.
This RF collection will be able to power many Internet of Things (IoT) items, including wearable electronics, computer-connected appliances, and sensors.
At this point, the harvester can gather power from up to seven miles away, pulling energy from cellular phones, WiFi connections, and mobile computing devices.
Environmental engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, etc. will be able to use this technology soon, hopefully in the next decade.
A mechanical engineering team led by Shannon Yee is working on technology that uses the expansion of sodium and solar heat to create electricity.
Na-TECC stands for sodium plus Thermo-Electro-Chemical Converter. Using a sodium redox reaction, the process efficiently creates electricity while limiting the amount of heat leakage.
The heat-to-electricity conversion efficiency is 45 percent compared to 30 percent on the current electric grid.
Once perfected, this technology can lead to a Na-TECC engine sitting in individual yards that can generate enough electricity to completely power an entire home.
Combined with other power sources, this engine becomes even more useful.
Computer and software engineers are in high demand to meet blockchain needs.
The blockchain is central to the cryptocurrency industry and refers to long chains of encrypted data that record financial transactions between two parties without relying on a third party such as a bank.
Blockchain applications are going beyond the financial world, however, and promise to be a driving force for decades to come. The technology is exploding, and experts in this highly specialized area will have a secure and lucrative career.
Skilled engineers have amazing opportunities in about every branch of their discipline. Computer and software engineers are already in great demand and that demand will explode in the coming years.
With your specialized training, you can face your employment future with confidence. Some workers may be replaced, but they are unlikely to be engineers.
Computer & Software engineering, as well as electrical & mechanical engineering branches, are growing fast, influenced by the growth of many new emerging technologies.
Stay committed to your craft and if you decide to change your engineering fields of study or job positions, the sooner you make the transition, the better you’ll be positioned for the next wave of technologies. Good luck.