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Engineering and technology are closely intertwined, with engineers developing a large part of the technology we use every day. And they adopt technologies invented in other industries for practical use elsewhere. Here are 4 trends to watch in the world of engineering in 2018. And note that all of them are already under development and only going to grow over the coming years.

Machine Learning/Deep Learning

Artificial intelligence isn’t yet designing the next generation of computers and robots, so AI isn’t going to put engineers out of a job any time soon. However, machine learning and deep learning are starting to be adopted and utilized to improve the engineering design process. Machine learning is starting to be used in EDA (electronic design automation) tools. It dramatically speeds up the design of circuits with tens of thousands of pathways and cutting-edge microchips with millions of gates, recommending different configurations while engineers decide on the final design. This is on top of the use of advanced computing to calculate the heat generated by circuits and to identify potential problems with a design. This coupled with computer aided design has nearly eliminated the need to build multiple prototypes before you go to production.

Online Education

Online education has been popular with liberal arts degrees for years because so much of the material is simply read. This process has been slower with engineering because of how much math and science is involved. However, you can now complete an online engineering program from the University of California-Riverside. The UC Riverside campus online engineering master’s program allows you to earn a degree from anywhere. The UC-Riverside Online programs include nanomaterials, environmental engineering systems and bio-engineering. At the other end of the spectrum are the continuing education requirements for many professional engineers taught online like ethics modules.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things refers to the network connectivity of nearly everything in one’s home, not just computers and game consoles. This is altering engineering in several ways. Having to write tech support manuals for a refrigerator that discusses what to do when the digital photo frame errors out along with how to change out the water filter is one variation. Having to design advanced intelligence into appliances to minimize energy usage and report back to utilities while, in some cases, sending reliability data back to the manufacturer is another.

Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is another term for 3D printing. We’ve had 3D printing with polymer fibers for years, and the price of it has come down to the point that hobbyists can actually keep one in the garage. The biggest revolution in additive manufacturing is the declining cost and increasing ability to 3D print in metals, concrete and wax. This is allowing engineers to design 3D printed structures that are strong and lightweight while creating shapes that couldn’t be created from a machined metal piece.

 

Engineering is evolving at neck breaking speeds and 2018 should be no different. Engineers will need to stay on top of these new changes if they don’t want to end up being outdated.

Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
Known globally as a willing source for tech news and views, Andy takes great pride in consultation and education.

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