What will a day in the life of a mechanical engineer look like in the year 2028?
According to an American Society of Mechanical Engineers report, 2028 Vision for Mechanical Engineering, a typical day might involve working from home on advanced CAD systems, fabricating prototypes on your desktop, and working as an entrepreneur or consultant.
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The findings are based on proceedings of The Global Summit on the Future of Mechanical Engineering, held this past April. The summit, hosted by ASME, gathered more than 120 engineering and science leaders from 19 countries. They looked at ways for mechanical engineers to be at the forefront of developing new technologies to address energy, environment, food, housing, water, transportation, safety, and health. One aspect the summit touched on was bringing stability to developing nations in sustainable ways. Among the conclusions: “Mechanical engineers will need new knowledge and skills to implement engineering approaches across multiscale systems. New simulation software designed to mimic the emergent properties of complex systems will help mechanical engineers anticipate system requirements and outcomes.”
By 2028, globalization and new business models will increasingly drive the development of mechanical- engineering projects that serve the poorest 90% of humanity, the 4 billion people who live on less than $2 a day. Engineers can create sustainable solutions that meet the basic needs and improve quality of life for all people around the world.
The paper also describes how advances in computer- aided design, materials, robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology will democratize the process of designing and creating new devices. Engineers will be able to design solutions to local problems. Individual engineers will have more latitude to design and build their devices using indigenous materials and labor – creating a renaissance for engineering entrepreneurs. The engineering workforce will change as more engineers work at home as part of larger decentralized engineering companies or as independent entrepreneurs.
Faster processing and network speeds will let future engineers design entire products as a system rather than as separate pieces. This will expand the capacities of engineers and allow more complex designs to be completed anywhere.
The futurists predict home-based personal fabricators will be readily available to turn computer-aided designs into reality. “Rapid prototyping and fabrication laboratories are improving and will soon be affordable for those running home offices, teaching classes, and those inventing or building as a hobby. Within 20 years, it is likely that home-based personal fabricators will be economically attractive and available to anyone who wants them.”
The full report is available here.