Future of Engineering

On the technical side, today’s engineering education seems stuck in the past. Lessons are too based on books. We say less theory and more practising. We need ability to invent, design, and create new products, devices, systems and services in order to compete on a global level of economic growth.

Engineering the Future is an alliance of professional engineering institutions and national organisations that between them represent 450,000 professional engineers. Through this the engineering profession speaks with one voice – being expert and indepenent is the goal. Engineering is vital to everyday life, it shapes the world we are living in and the future we are relying on. Researchers and practitioners work toghether.

Engineers don’t just build bridges and design spaceships all day. There are plenty of issues of energetics, transportation, robotics, medicine or the human diet. Computer science and engineering are two parts of the same thing.

Are materials of future mad ideas? The stuff like magnetic ink (contains iron), ceramic cloth (which will insulate against extreme temperatures) or flavor changing additives are coming (source: The Technology Hunters at Inventables Chicago). Electronic paper, a thin, flexible display technology that reveals digital images in full color. And so on – conductive hook & loop, translucent concrete, temperature sensitive glass tiles, anti-graffiti film, stone paper, water expanding plastic, anti-fog film, Wwater soluble glass, magnetic-attracting paint, compostable stretch fabric, edible glitter, paper honeycomb…

But what the limited sources of our mother Earth? In the future, civilization will be forced to research and develop alternative energy sources. Our current rate of fossil fuel usage will lead to an energy crisis this century. In order to survive the energy crisis many companies in the energy industry are inventing new ways to extract energy from renewable sources. We have to learn how to get power from the sun lighting, sea or the air. We are working on tidal power, solar power, thermal, gheothermal power or hydroelectricity. And we are still on very low level at gaining energy from nuclear sources.

Mining industry changing to meet new world of challenges. The industry’s future lies not in Europe, nor the US, nor Australia for that matter. Rather, mining looks to where its customers reside – the developing world. Over the past 20 years growth in places as diverse as China, India, South East Asia, Africa and Latin America has far outpaced growth in the west. We have to face plenty of issues – evolving fiscal regimes and rising resource nationalism will have on the industry, decreasing grades, rising input costs, higher capital costs needed to bring supply to market, continued disruptions to production from labour strikes to weather events and the increasing remoteness of deposits.

And what about the main source, the oil (and the gas)? Oil was first discovered in the U.S. in 1859. Today oil supplies about 40% of the world’s energy and 96% of its transportation energy. Since the shift from coal to oil, the world has consumed over 875 billion barrels. Another 1,000 billion barrels of proved and probable reserves remain to be recovered.

From now to 2020, world oil consumption will rise by about 60%. Transportation will be the fastest growing oil-consuming sector. According to the OPEC Annual Report 2009 total world oil demand in 2009 was 84.4 millions barrels per day (b/d). By 2025, the number of cars will increase to well over 1.25 billion from approximately 700 million today. Global consumption of gasoline could double. Due to these uncertainties, predictions of future oil demand can vary widely. Each of the factors discussed above will almost certainly have an effect on the future of oil production and use, however how much of an effect is not easy to predict.

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