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How engineering will shape the world in the next decade

Posted: 09 November 2022

As part of the 10th annual Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (7-11 November 2022), David Gillies discusses some of the ways engineering will shape the world in the next decade.

"We have to engineer the solutions to some of the challenges of the future," says David Gillies.
"We have to engineer the solutions to some of the challenges of the future," says David Gillies.

Engineering has shaped the world as we know it. It improves people's lives. We can drive, sail and fly – as a species, we're fully mobile. We can produce and buy food. All these things have been engineered over many years.

Yet, in our minds, we have lived in a world of infinite resources. We're now realising this is not the case. Engineers will be at the forefront of developing the ways we take Earth’s incredibly valuable, natural resources – such as wind, wave and kinetic energy –  and translate these into something we, as human beings, can use without consuming other resources that are finite.

It would not be over-dramatic to say that engineering will play a major role in making sure the human race is relevant in the weeks, months and years ahead. Why? Because we have to engineer the solutions to some of the challenges of the future.

A big part of that is the environmental impact and the way we produce and consume energy. The transition has already started, from wind generation to the removal of fossil fuels, and engineers have done a wonderful job in coming up with many different solutions – with countless more to come. There will be incredibly exciting developments over the next 10 years, many of which are still in the highly conceptual phase, and these technologies will continue to evolve.

We want to make sure our children grow up in a great world; one that is inherited by generations to come. Consequently, we need the brightest, bravest and most energised people to come into our industry and push us towards those new boundaries.

The energy revolution and transition towards cleaner energy will be an extremely exciting sector, with engineering at the heart of it. As such, it needs talented and intellectual people to come up with the designs, produce them, and install them. Multiple facets of engineering will be involved in taking us on that journey.

When we think about energy, it’s easy to think about oil, gas or wind turbines – yet everything we buy has been moved around. When we go to the supermarket, many people have been involved in moving the products several times to put them on the shelves for us to purchase and consume. And we, ourselves, move them again by getting in some form of transport to take them home.

When we go on holiday, we move. Every time we move, we use energy, whether that's fuel or battery power.

So, the energy revolution is all encompassing – and that’s what is so exciting. It will touch every element of our lives, from how we power our homes and businesses, to how we eat, clothe ourselves, travel, work and communicate.

All those aspects will be influenced by the next generation of technologies, conceived by engineers – people who solve some of the most complex problems in the world that have ramifications for all of us.

Engineering has changed humanity and will continue to do so.

David Gillies is chief executive officer of ERIKS UK & Ireland. He is also a governor of West Nottinghamshire College and chairs its engineering employers’ advisory panel.

Click here to see the range of engineering courses on offer at the college. 

Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek22) is organised by Engineering UK to shine a spotlight on engineering, engineering careers and engineering professionals. Now in its 10th year, the annual campaign aims to show young people, their influencers and the general public the real face of modern engineering and to understand that engineering is for everyone.

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