If someone has the word “engineer” in their job title, they are met with esteem and praise. Engineers are known for understanding various theories and principles, not to mention having to take tests to become licensed in their field. This is why engineers are in high demand in different industries. An engineer is surely a person with a keen mind and a broad understanding of the world around them.
However, times are changing. While new fields of engineering are on the horizon, some job roles are also approaching obsolete status. As an engineer, what can you do to keep your knowledge and skills up-to-date? Which future engineering fields can you look into in case you have to adjust to the coming changes? While your current job is still relevant, it pays to think of the few years ahead and ask, “What does your future as an engineer look like?”
In a general sense, how is engineering shifting in terms of focus?
Many fields in engineering involve physics. In the past years, there have been many innovations and discoveries regarding the laws of physics and how they play in engineering. A school of thought posits that new discoveries in the fundamental laws of physics won’t be relevant anymore in the next 100 years. It’s because everyone in the field of physics is so familiar with its laws that any discovery involving such laws will not come as a surprise anymore.
If ever there are discoveries in physics that can be considered groundbreaking, it will be in extreme conditions, like for example in outer space.However, there is particular movement in the role of physics in the preservation of life to the extent of being labelled as a life science. While physics and life science do appear like polar opposites, there is a new school of thought that the “theory of everything” might eventually explain the existence of not only inanimate objects, but living things as well.
Which Jobs in Engineering Are in Danger?
Aside from emerging engineering disciplines that contribute to the quality of life, the overall shift of the globe to online systems and processes is also endangering some engineering specializations. This change is widely seen in professional spaces, which is why companies are beginning to let go of the need for the following engineers:
- Network engineers. Especially when the internet was still gaining speed, companies used to scour the job market for the best network engineers. Setting up routers, gateways, and systems to connect all computers3 was highly needed before. But when the pandemic struck, companies soon discovered that everyone could connect to the cloud. This is a threat to network engineers as their services may no longer be needed.
- Infrastructure engineers. If network engineers work on systems and connections, infrastructure engineers build the necessary hardware for these systems. Similar to the movement of corporations because of the pandemic, the rise of work-from-home and downsizing the use of brick-and-mortar offices may also mean lesser need for IT infrastructure.
- Nuclear engineers. In the US, an estimated 700 nuclear engineering jobs will be lost by 2024.4 With a shift in global interest to avail of more renewable energy sources, nuclear engineers may have to find a way to use their abilities through other means.
- Aerospace engineers. Because of the loss of the need to travel due to COVID19, aerospace engineers experienced redundancies or layoffs. Aircraft manufacturing was not a recent priority, and will not be as the world is only beginning to rise again from COVID.
- Electronics engineers. Unless one works with computers, electronics engineers are also not safe from losing demand. In the US, 1,900 electronic engineers are in danger of being let go. This is because computers are taking over the functions of other electronic devices.
With engineering being a dynamic industry, the list could go on. This is why engineers need to stay current and informed about their profession.
What Future Engineering Fields Should You Look Into?
As mentioned earlier, there is a shift in looking at physics’ possible contributions to improving the quality of life. Engineers may grab this emerging opportunity to challenge their craft into something that will uplift human society, not only give them the proper tools for innovation. Take a look at these emerging engineering fields and see how your adeptness as a professional can be useful to them:
- Socially Conscious Engineering. Also called “socially aware engineering,” this is the use of engineering to alleviate societal struggles affecting communities. Especially since engineers are well-adept in building infrastructures and systems, why not use their skills to help societies?
Engineers can solve problems, and collaboration is a big part of this solution. By welcoming communication across sectors, engineers can not only practice their craft but actually do something worthwhile. Building waterworks for irrigation and extending electricity to remote areas are some engineering projects that are socially conscious.
- Ethical Engineering. This field is concerned with creating mechanisms to ease tasks and quicken processes but with the least impact on natural surroundings. Building computers, houses, roads, planes, and so on can be done without harming the environment while also uplifting human dignity. With these in mind, any engineer can be an ethical engineer.
This casts a wide net on where engineers can serve in society without sacrificing their current knowledge and skills. With society’s heightened concern for protecting and uplifting human life, engineers can be contributors to this advocacy.
- Environmental Engineering. This is a branch of engineering dedicated to protecting society from the harms of adverse environmental effects, like global warming and pollution. Environmental engineers utilize principles of engineering, soil science, chemistry, and biology to create solutions.
They can be deployed to battle certain issues in the environment. For example, chemical and biological engineers can work together to cultivate greenery in spaces that need them the most. Engineers are natural problem solvers. That is why they have a role in safeguarding society against harmful natural occurrences.
What Is the Best Engineering Field for the Future?
While the best field does vary for any engineer, it pays to work towards making a prospective field work for you. To safeguard yourself from the possible hangups of the ever-changing engineering industry, consider the following:
- Stay informed. Subscribe to engineering newsletters or join professional groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media sites. Updates from these sources will help you get hold of recent information about movements in the world of engineering.
- Update your skills. Seminars and workshops, even free ones, do well in keeping your knowledge of your craft updated and fresh. If you are interested in crossing engineering fields, venues to get to know that field are welcome. Also, opportunities for you to apply for your work in new settings, like through volunteer work, are viable in practicing and applying your newfound or updated skills.
- Start exploring new job opportunities. If you’re eager to maintain your professional status as an engineer, look for job openings already. Approach recruiting firms and companies if they will be interested in welcoming someone like you who is crossing engineering concentrations. Don’t wait for your job role to become obsolete. Be proactive and make this switch now
ACS PROFESSIONAL STAFFING CAN HELP YOU MAKE THAT SWITCH.
If you are in engineering, technology, or support fields and looking for a role that’s fulfilling and worthwhile, ACS Professional Staffing can offer you a helping hand. We can provide executive recruitment services for a temporary contract or direct hire. Through our partnerships with government agencies and companies, we find professional opportunities that will make you excited and engaged at work. Contact us today.