Six Ways Technology Is Changing Engineering (2022)

Updated 12.02.2021, Editor's note: This article has been updated with new links to more-current content and with minor formatting changes. Other than fixing one typo, the text is unchanged from its 2018 publication.

The number of sensors and digital systems collecting data on aircraft, railway cars, locomotives and automobiles is rapidly expanding. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and other technologies are transforming the basics of how transportation equipment operates. And customers, recognizing the possibilities, are demanding more customized equipment and intelligent interfaces.

These new components and technologies are also reshaping the way engineers design and develop equipment. They create opportunities that, when used to full potential, can contain research and development (R&D) costs and substantially speed up the incorporation of innovations—allowing manufacturers to better adapt to rapidly changing customer demands.

Real-time Innovation

In the past, inventing transportation equipment required a trial-and-error process and multiple prototypes. For instance, developing a new model of car typically took close to four years, with the model staying on the market for seven years. For aircraft and rail rolling stock, the combined timetable for development and the equipment’s time in service can be three to four times longer than for autos.

Given the current pace of technological change and adoption, that’s too long.

(Video) SIX emerging trends in Engineering with advancement in Digital Technology

Digitization is changing the playing field for engineers. It alters the culture by providing more real-time data on the performance of equipment in the field today, allowing engineers to consider improvements that can be achieved in months through data algorithms rather than years or decades. Instead of focusing only on breakthrough technologies and new models, engineers can significantly expand the capabilities of equipment already in service through incremental upgrades in software downloads or the incorporation of new sensors.

Transportation manufacturers can operate more like an Apple or Microsoft, sending software updates to improve performance or security. Regular upgrades and the flexibility that digital systems provide are transforming what original equipment manufacturers can offer customers – and what engineers can develop. Since its inception, Tesla, for instance, has let its electric car customers incorporate technology upgrades through simple downloads while the vehicles sit in the garage or parked on a street.

The pressure to keep technology cutting-edge is even more intense for aircraft and rail equipment manufacturers whose products remain in service for decades. Public transport authorities are beginning to demand faster turnaround on new trains and trams to provide riders the latest comforts and conveniences; airlines want to distinguish themselves in the market with more customization of their planes and the customer experience through advanced connectivity.

The Realities of Budgets

Making sure that products keep up with technological advances costs money at a time when most manufacturers are forced to look for cuts. As a result,engineering departments are transferring funds from traditional R&D to digital in an impossible race to reduce both the cost and time to reach market with new products.

Annually, equipment makers budget more than $814 billion on R&D and engineering – a significant cost of operation. Adopting data-driven engineering could shave up to 10 percent off these budgets, with the savings likely to increase as transportation equipment becomes more digital, autonomous, and electric.

(Video) SIX emerging trends in Engineering with advancement in Digital Technology

To accomplish this, engineering departments will have to change how they work. Here, we explore six trends that are redefining the design and development of transport equipment.

Trend One: Two Types of Engineers

The biggest challenge facing transportation companies is finding candidates with the right mix of engineering skills. The growing technical sophistication of transportation equipment demands deep expertise in narrow scientific fields like artificial intelligence, but their complexity also creates a need for system engineers and architects. These specialists, probably the hardest of engineers to find, have mastered several engineering disciplines and can address a product holistically, understanding how various systems interact and support each other.

Meanwhile, as human resources departments look to recruit more engineers, information technology tools and artificial intelligence systems will be taking over certain engineering assignments, primarily simple design tasks. It’s estimated that robots will eventually take over as much as 25% of the work of engineers, just as they have replaced production workers in factories and changed the skillset necessary for those remaining.

Trend Two: Open Engineering Ecosystems

Outsourcing was once a means of cutting costs, but today it’s done to access new skills in areas like artificial intelligence or to reassign legacy work so in-house engineers can focus on new technologies. That often involves collaborating with technology startups, which can create culture clashes.

The tech industry is accustomed to perfecting systems over time based on usage data, but for transport equipment makers, problems in the field can threaten more than their reputations and customer relationships. Yet the two types of engineers need to work together, which will require more alignment between engineering processes, signoff procedures and validation requirements, among other things.

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Already, major companies leverage engineering ecosystems—essentially teams of in-house and outsourced engineers from multiple companies working together—in half of their programs, according to an Oliver Wyman survey. But many transportation companies said in survey interviews that they had problems finding the right ecosystem for software development. Among the biggest hurdles for most organizations in this type of collaboration are maintaining control over design methodologies, the lack of standardized IT systems and mitigation of the potential for cyberattack when working with third-party vendors.

Trend Three: Optimizing Design with Product Data

New engineering initiatives are arising from the growing pools of data supplied by aircraft, automobiles and railway cars themselves. Manufacturers have added more and more sensors to their products as the cost has come down and advanced analytics become available to interpret the data. (Oliver Wyman believes equipment manufacturers could gain $10 billion annually from improvements based on such Internet of Things data.)

Even in aviation, where product data has been used for years, manufacturers are finding new implementations. For example, flight optimization equipment is being introduced that would allow flight plans to be altered based on real-time data on weather and traffic, leading to better fuel use and fewer delays. Planes are also sharing data more readily with air traffic control and other aircraft to improve safety and traffic management.

For automakers, the problem has been the fact that data rarely makes it back to the engineers. Vehicle internal error codes are tracked and used by repair shops to diagnose problems but often deleted after the car is fixed. If they were fed into a database, engineers could track frequently recurring problems with, for instance, navigation and infotainment systems, and find the root causes. They could then fix them in subsequent designs.

Trend Four: Customer-Centric Product Design

Demand for customization means that engineeringcompanies are working closer than ever with theircustomers. Sixty percent of top-performing companies now collaborate intensively with their customers to get feedback on products and understand what they want next.

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Equipment makers do not involve their customers in the technical design, but smart ones use them as integral parts of the testing process for new technologies. In the past, train operators were invited to give feedback on new trains already in production, but now manufacturers provide virtual simulators to let drivers try out different designs before the production phase.

In automobiles, by monitoring drivers’ habits digitally, automakers might identify driving patterns that causehigher emissions and adjust the exhaust systems’ control algorithms for individual drivers.

Trend Five: Project Data Management and Other IT Tools

Project data management (PDM) tools are one way to cope with the growing complexity. PDM arranges a technology system into a connected library of subsystems, a bit like LEGO blocks, and allows data sharing across a company, removing functional silos. It can speed up development and cut the design cycle in half. PDM could be particularly useful for the rail industry, where there’s more scope for customization than in automotive or aerospace, and where the need to limit complexity makes data about every variable easily accessible.

Rail manufacturers have begun the journey to modularizing their sub-systems, and automakers are using similar parts on multiple platforms. Yet engineers are often reluctant to adopt new IT tools like PDM, with their rigidity and poor user interfaces that are often a struggle to use. These are problems that software editors need to address if they want their technologies to be fully implemented.

Trend Six: Implementing Fully Agile Development

Traditional engineering development was based on a steady sequence of steps from concept to implementation. Sometimes engineers wouldn’t know a system wasn’t working until far into the testing process, forcing them to lose time as they went back to re-engineer it. Today, software uses agile processes in which teams quickly iterate, test, and gather feedback on a product. Big tasks are divided into smaller ones, and teams tend to work in sprints.

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As the digital content of engineered products grows, companies will increasingly turn to agile methods. The result is much faster product development cycles, with estimates that agile processes will deliver faster results in over 90 percent of projects. However, even with this impressive number, it may not be easy to get engineers to give up their traditional development process.

Marc Boilard and Simon Schnurrer are partners and Kevin Smeets is principal in the transportation and operations practices at global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

FAQs

How technology is changing the engineering industry? ›

These new technological innovations include the widespread adoption of 3D printing, robots, and Internet of Thing (IoT) devices. Adoption of these innovations has shifted work processes, design, production, and testing in many engineering firms.

How is technology used in engineering? ›

Digital technology has been a key element of the engineering landscape for several decades now. Computer-Aided Design (CAD) techniques, sample analysis, real-time or predictive modeling, and general data processing are just some of the areas in which today's engineering technologists contribute.

How has ICT helped in engineering? ›

At present, the main use of ICT in many engineering institutions is for uploading PowerPoint presentations, supplementary reading materials, assignments and home work, in addition to announcements on websites or any learning management system.

How has engineering changed over the years? ›

The most obvious change within engineering is the increased use of computers. Computers are used by engineers to design, analyse and create. In the past, engineers also relied on drafting tools and their own abilities at sketching and drawing.

How does technology affect civil engineering? ›

Civil engineers can now create and manufacture designs for machine parts, tools, buildings, and other structures with more accuracy thanks to computer-assisted drafting (CAD) programs like AutoDesk Inventor Fusion 360.

How does technology affect mechanical engineering? ›

Technology is creating increased opportunities for mechanical engineers to design and introduce (NPI) improved products and adapt them to the changing demands of customers. In the past, designing new equipment and systems often required engineers to develop prototypes multiple times before the final version.

What technology is used in civil engineering? ›

What is the latest technology in civil engineering? Photovoltaic Glaze, Kinetic Roads, Self-healing Concrete, Kinetic Footfall, Thermal Bridging, 3D Modelling, Modular Construction, Asset Mapping, Internet of Things, and Drones are some of the latest technologies recently introduced in construction.

What is meant by engineering technology? ›

An Engineering Technology degree emphasizes the application of specific engineering techniques. Graduates with an Engineering Technology degree often seek employment in fields such as production, design, manufacturing and operations.

What is the new technology in 2022? ›

By 2022, multicore will be everywhere, from wearable systems and smartphones to cameras, games, automobiles, cloud servers, and exa-scale supercomputers. Silicon photonics will be a fundamental technology to address the bandwidth, latency, and energy challenges in the fabric of high-end systems.

How can engineering bring positive change? ›

Engineers use devices like drones to detect and reach survivors, help to build shelters and safe water and waste disposal systems. They use their knowledge to get transport systems back up and running, help to safely demolish and rebuild structures and get water, power and heating systems working.

How technology will change the future of education? ›

It will not only make learning effective for students but help teachers to perform their duties efficiently. Artificial intelligence such as Professor Einstein (a robot) is already making waves in the educational sector. The robot helps science students by lecturing and helping them to understand science subjects.

What are the four ICT developments? ›

ICTs fall into four main categories: computing and information technology, broadcasting, telecommunications and internet.

How does engineering contribute to modern world innovations? ›

Engineers are at the forefront of technological advancement, designing new machines and algorithms to help tackle societal problems. Technology is being used to combat climate change, improve our quality of life and bring people closer together.

What is communication engineering? ›

Communications engineers design and modify electrical communications systems for scientific, military, industrial or commercial use. The level of in-depth technical and design work varies; after a few years of experience many communications engineers will start to move into managerial and consultancy roles.

What is evolution in engineering? ›

Evolutionary engineering, which combines natural variation and selection under artificial conditions, is another commonly used traditional genetic engineering method. The concept of evolutionary engineering was firstly proposed by Butler et al. (1996).

How are engineers changing the world? ›

From smart cars to space travel; from architecture to antibiotics, engineers have shaped the way our world works – and innovation is at the heart of everything they do. Engineers find innovative solutions to our problems, and as a species we rely on them to come up with creative solutions time and time again.

Who is 1st engineer in world? ›

The first engineer known by name and achievement is Imhotep, builder of the Step Pyramid at Ṣaqqārah, Egypt, probably about 2550 bce.

How can technology improve a building? ›

Technology allows contractors and project managers to make more timely and informed decisions based on cost and labor data. With intelligent modeling, users can make adjustments to the building model in real time in order to see how changes will impact cost and labor.

How is technology used in the construction industry? ›

Technology streamlines daily processes, making them more efficient. You allow construction workers to focus on other essential areas when you automate their workload. Robots and drones can take over mundane or hazardous jobs and complete them more accurately, which frees employees to work on human-centric tasks.

What are the advantages of construction technology? ›

Construction technologies produce smarter and more durable structures in two main ways; By designing better structures from scratch. By retrofitting existing structures for increased durability.

What is the future for engineering? ›

The demand for emerging technologies, as well as the technological advancements being made every day make a career in engineering a viable and everchanging one. Technical staff will be required to do so much more in the future, which means there will be an increase in the demand for different types of engineers.

What are ten interesting facts about engineering? ›

Fun Engineering Facts
  • The Snowboard was invented by an Engineer. ...
  • Running Shoes are Designed by Engineers. ...
  • Thank an Engineer for that fun Water Slide.
  • The Launch and Return of Spacecraft is an Engineering Victory. ...
  • The Ferris Wheel is One of the Greatest Engineering Wonders.
  • Engineers make Interactive Television possible.
15 Sept 2015

How will mechanical engineering change in the future? ›

Mechanical engineering is undergoing some radical shifts as a profession as robotics, virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI) and big data transform the way that engineers design and develop projects. In the past, designing new tools and systems often required multiple prototypes and test runs.

What type of engineer starts with D? ›

Engineering careers that start with D
  • Debug Technician.
  • Design Checker.
  • Design Development Engineer.
  • Design Engineer.
  • Design Manufacturing Engineer.
  • Design Release Engineer.
  • Design Supervisor.
  • Design Technician.

What is construction technology? ›

Construction technology refers to the collection of innovative tools, machinery, modifications, software, etc. used during the construction phase of a project that enables advancement in field construction methods, including semi-automated and automated construction equipment.

What is the biggest improvement to civil technology? ›

The following are the top civil engineering construction technology trends in 2022 and beyond.
  • New Effective Scanning Solutions.
  • Timber Constructions.
  • Wearable Technology.
  • Smart Building.
  • Modular Construction And 3D Printed Dwellings.
  • Smart Homes.
  • Connected Homes.
  • Home Analytics.
10 Jan 2022

What are the 5 main types of engineering? ›

What Are the 5 Main Types of Engineering?
  1. Civil Engineering. ...
  2. Chemical Engineering. ...
  3. Mechanical Engineering. ...
  4. Electrical Engineering. ...
  5. Industrial Engineering.

Why is engineering important to society? ›

Engineering provides solutions to a wide range of industries like medicine, space, entertainment, transport, environment etc. Every invention and its functioning depend on engineering in one way or the other. Engineers can work in offices, labs, outdoors based on their responsibility.

Is engineering technology better than engineering? ›

Whereas engineering programs focus on theory and design, ET programs specialize in application and implementation. It follows that engineering programs have higher-level math and theoretical science in their curricula and engineering technology programs tend to put greater emphasis on hands-on laboratory skills.

What are 5 emerging technology? ›

Its most prominent impact, however, lies in the future and so in the emergence phase is still somewhat uncertain and ambiguous." Emerging technologies include a variety of technologies such as educational technology, information technology, nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

What is the future technology? ›

AI and machine learning are the foundation on which many other technologies are built. For instance, without AI, we wouldn't have achieved the amazing advances in the Internet of Things, virtual reality, chatbots, facial recognition, robotics, automation, or self-driving cars, just to name a few.

What is an example of new technology? ›

Examples of such new technologies include carbon capture and storage systems, more efficient irrigation methods, essential medicines, household water purification devices, and manufacturing processes that minimize waste and pollution.

What are the positive aspects of engineering? ›

Why Engineering?
  • Job Satisfaction. It's ideal to find a career that you enjoy. ...
  • Variety of Career Opportunities. ...
  • Potential to Benefit Society. ...
  • Challenging Work. ...
  • Intellectual Development. ...
  • Creative Thinking. ...
  • Technological and Scientific Discovery. ...
  • Financial Security.

What is the impact of engineering activities? ›

Engineering activities are significant contributors to economic development, standards of living and well-being of a society, and impact its cultural development and environment.

Why is engineering the best? ›

During an engineering degree, you practise all the skills that will be vital both in the workplace and in everyday life. The logical thinking, objectivity and decision-making you will develop are key in engineering jobs, as well as being transferrable skills for other careers.

How will technology help in the future? ›

It can invite unique perspectives. It can provide empowerment, knowledge, awareness, access, and community. As we develop the technology of the future, we can work towards creating a better world long term. This means many different things as technology merges with all parts of our lives.

How has technology changed the face of the world? ›

Technology affects the way people learn, study, work, communicate, think and reflect. It plays an important role in society today. It has positive and negative effects on the world and it impacts daily lives. We are living in an era where technological advances are common.

Does technology improve learning? ›

Technology provides students with easy-to-access information, accelerated learning, and fun opportunities to practice what they learn. It enables students to explore new subjects and deepen their understanding of difficult concepts, particularly in STEM.

How can engineering bring positive change? ›

Engineers use devices like drones to detect and reach survivors, help to build shelters and safe water and waste disposal systems. They use their knowledge to get transport systems back up and running, help to safely demolish and rebuild structures and get water, power and heating systems working.

How does engineering contribute to modern world innovations? ›

Engineers are at the forefront of technological advancement, designing new machines and algorithms to help tackle societal problems. Technology is being used to combat climate change, improve our quality of life and bring people closer together.

How will mechanical engineering change the future? ›

Employment of mechanical engineers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations. About 20,200 openings for mechanical engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

What is the future of engineering education? ›

Conclusion. The future of Indian engineering education is going to be a lot different from what it was in the past. This is because people are going to have an increased awareness of the role that engineers play in society. In addition, there will be more opportunities for engineers to get jobs and make a decent living ...

What are the 5 main types of engineering? ›

What Are the 5 Main Types of Engineering?
  1. Civil Engineering. ...
  2. Chemical Engineering. ...
  3. Mechanical Engineering. ...
  4. Electrical Engineering. ...
  5. Industrial Engineering.

How are engineers changing the world? ›

From smart cars to space travel; from architecture to antibiotics, engineers have shaped the way our world works – and innovation is at the heart of everything they do. Engineers find innovative solutions to our problems, and as a species we rely on them to come up with creative solutions time and time again.

What are the positive aspects of engineering? ›

Why Engineering?
  • Job Satisfaction. It's ideal to find a career that you enjoy. ...
  • Variety of Career Opportunities. ...
  • Potential to Benefit Society. ...
  • Challenging Work. ...
  • Intellectual Development. ...
  • Creative Thinking. ...
  • Technological and Scientific Discovery. ...
  • Financial Security.

How has engineering improved our lives? ›

In fact, engineers have completely changed the world we live in, from modern homes, bridges, space travel, cars and the latest mobile technology. Innovative ideas are at the heart of what engineers do, and they use their knowledge to create new and exciting prospects and solve any problems that may arise.

How do engineers benefit society? ›

In different societies engineering provides most of the same artifacts: shelter, energy and communications, manufacturing, water supply, extraction and use of resources, and disposal of waste. There are societies where engineers carry out broader functions by virtue of the position they hold.

What are the uses of engineering? ›

Engineering functions
  • Research. ...
  • Development. Development engineers apply the results of research to useful purposes. ...
  • Design. ...
  • Construction. ...
  • Production. ...
  • Operation. ...
  • Management and other functions.
31 Aug 2022

Which engineering field is growing? ›

Here are the fastest-growing engineering sectors:
  • Software engineering jobs.
  • Aerospace engineering jobs.
  • Civil engineering jobs.
  • Environmental engineering.
  • Biomedical engineering.
  • Computer engineering.
  • Electrical engineering.
  • Plastic engineering.

What is the future of computer engineering? ›

Computer engineers are needed in many fields, including computer programming, hardware or software development, and internet-based works or customer service. The field will be very competitive due to the high demand for qualified engineers. But with a lot of motivation and perseverance, you can succeed in this field.

How is mechanical engineering changing? ›

One of the most significant changes in mechanical engineering is the way mechanical products are developed, prototyped, and manufactured. There is a shift away from mechanical systems to more software and data-driven tools both at the design stage and application level with a connection directly to the internet.

Which engineering is best in 2025? ›

However looking at the current scenario and trends around the globe, we can say that the streams that has a great future(not just in 2021 or 2025): Aerospace Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Telecommunication Engineering, Machine Learning and Artificial ...

Why is engineering important in education? ›

Engineering graduates learn to integrate scientific and engineering principles to develop products and processes that contribute to economic growth, advances in medical care, enhanced national security systems, ecologically sound resource management, and many other beneficial areas.

What is the important of value education for future engineers? ›

These values enable aspiring and practising engineers to maintain their equanimity while facing such challenges. It also makes them capable of taking decisions that do not violate any ethical values in their daily interactions.

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