Mech n Flow
How will the future of mechanical engineering look?
Updated: Jul 23, 2021
Is Mechanical Engineering dead? How has COVID-19 affected the field?
Table of Contents:
a. Solar, Wind and Nuclear Energy
b. Robotics/ Mechatronics & Systems Engineering
c. 3D Printing
"Mechanical Engineering is dead." You might have come across this statement some or another time in your career. You might have come across people who have discouraged you to pursue your Mechanical career.
No! Mechanical Engineering isn't dead. But instead there might be shortages for Mechanical Engineers & their skills.
It is estimated that by the year 2022, people pursuing jobs in Mechanical Engineering will be the lowest recorded in history, with millennials pursuing software-based jobs instead. Gen Z is currently holding at only 2% of applications going for Mechanical Engineering positions, while a considerably larger 19% are applying for positions in Software (source).
As Charles Darwin stated "Survival of fittest", similarly Mechanical engineers should adapt to the changing times. The future lies in making the earth better and living in a sustainable way, with the help of technology. Here are some of the most thriving mechanical engineering industries for the near future.
Future industries of Mechanical Engineering.
Solar, Wind and Nuclear Energy
The renewable energy industry has seen impressive, global growth over the last decade, and mechanical engineers have played a key role in enabling the world’s transition to clean energy and more sustainable practices.
Solar power is energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy. Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available. Solar technologies can harness this energy for a variety of uses, including generating electricity, providing light or a comfortable interior environment, and heating water for domestic, commercial, or industrial use.
The wind is used to produce electricity using the kinetic energy created by air in motion. This is transformed into electrical energy using wind turbines or wind energy conversion systems.
Nuclear energy is the energy in the nucleus, or core, of an atom. Atoms are tiny units that make up all matter in the universe, and energy is what holds the nucleus together. There is a huge amount of energy in an atom's dense nucleus. Nuclear energy can be used to create electricity, but it must first be released from the atom. In the process of nuclear fission, atoms are split to release that energy.
Robotics/ Mechatronics & Systems Engineering
Robotics is an interdisciplinary field that integrates computer science and engineering. Robotics involves the design, construction, operation, and use of robots. The goal of robotics is to design machines that can help and assist humans. Robotics integrates fields of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, information engineering, mechatronics, electronics, bioengineering, computer engineering, control engineering, software engineering, mathematics, among others.
Robots can be used in many situations and for many purposes, but today many are used in dangerous environments which may include inspection of radioactive materials, bomb detection and deactivation, manufacturing processes, or do activities where humans cannot survive such as in space, underwater, in high heat, and clean up and containment of hazardous materials and radiation which might be harmful or dangerous for man.
Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field that refers to the skill sets needed in the contemporary, advanced automated manufacturing industry. At the intersection of mechanics, electronics, and computing, mechatronics specialists create simpler, smarter systems. Mechatronics is an essential foundation for the expected growth in automation and manufacturing. Mechatronics deals with robotics, control systems, and electromechanical systems.
Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field of engineering and engineering management that focuses on how to design, integrate, and manage complex systems over their life cycles. The importance of these fields will keep on increasing due to the futuristic vision.
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is the construction of a three-dimensional object from a CAD model or a digital 3D model. The term "3D printing" can refer to a variety of processes in which material is deposited, joined, or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional object, with the material being added together such as plastics, liquids, or powder grains being fused together, typically layer by layer. As of 2021, the precision, repeatability, and material range of 3D printing have increased to the point that some 3D printing processes are considered viable as industrial-production technology. One of the key advantages of 3D printing is the ability to produce very complex shapes or geometries that would be otherwise impossible to construct by hand, including hollow parts or parts with internal truss structures to reduce weight.
All-electric vehicles (EVs), use a battery pack to store the electrical energy that powers the motor. EV batteries are charged by plugging the vehicle into an electric power source. Many research proves all-electric vehicles as zero-emission vehicles because they produce no direct exhaust or tailpipe emissions, which is beneficial to the environment and man alike. Two main types of EV have achieved substantial sales to date: battery electric vehicles (BEVs), which need to be plugged into recharge; and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), which use a combination of battery power and liquid fuel. Additionally, Hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles, Solar cars, Wind-powered vehicles are also becoming popular day by day.
Biomedical engineering (BME) or medical engineering is the application of engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes. This field seeks to close the gap between engineering and medicine, combining the design and problem-solving skills of engineering with medical biological sciences to advance health care treatment, including diagnosis, monitoring, and therapy. Biomedical engineers differ from other engineering disciplines that have an influence on human health in that biomedical engineers use and apply an intimate knowledge of modern biological principles in their engineering design process. Aspects of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, materials science, chemistry, mathematics, and computer science and engineering are all integrated with human biology in biomedical engineering to improve human health, whether it be an advanced prosthetic limb or a breakthrough in identifying proteins within cells.
Moreover, during the difficult times of COVID-19, Mechanical Engineers have designed and manufactured machines to produce the vaccines, created an awareness of the flow of virus particles using Computation fluid dynamics (CFD), etc.
Environmental engineering is a job type that is a professional engineering discipline and takes from broad scientific topics like chemistry, biology, ecology, geology, hydraulics, hydrology, microbiology, and mathematics to create solutions that will protect and also improve the health of living organisms and improve the quality of the environment. Environmental engineers devise solutions for wastewater management, water, and air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, and public health. They design municipal water supply and industrial wastewater treatment systems, and design plans to prevent waterborne diseases and improve sanitation in urban, rural, and recreational areas. They evaluate hazardous-waste management systems to evaluate the severity of such hazards, advise on treatment and containment, and develop regulations to prevent mishaps. They implement environmental engineering law, as in assessing the environmental impact of proposed construction projects. Mechanical Engineering focuses on topic areas including pollution detection/control/prevention and environmental aspects of energy conversion. Potential applications of a degree that emphasizes both Environmental and Mechanical Engineering include designing detection equipment, devising clean-up strategies, and improving manufacturing processes.
Numerous new scientific developments and discoveries have already come out of a human desire to know more about and explore space. Scratch-resistant lenses, temper foam, freeze-drying technology, and improvements to radial tires are simple examples of by-products of space research that have already contributed to the fields of health, public safety, and transportation alike. Mechanical Engineering takes in all built structures and moving parts flown in space, which includes automation and robotics, instruments for scientific missions as well as assessing the effects of the space environment on materials.
Change is the only constant! COVID-19 has changed the working of Mechanical engineers too! However, it might not be possible to Work from home all the time, but we mechanical engineers have adapted to this change and optimized our working style. Don't feel burned out if you feel you wont fit in any of the above categories. You can still thrive and get successful if you are not into these niches. Are you finding it difficult to explore the right field for yourself?
Book a meet now!
There are few other niches in mechanical engineering that we might have missed out on. But, it is important to understand what the future holds for a mechanical engineer, as it will help you build your career. You might want to understand the basics of these topics and consider selecting one of the above niches forward in your life.
You can simply start by watching few videos, courses to understand the basics and then jump into one of the industries that you love!
Keep exploring, stay curious, stay relevant and happy learning!
Did we miss out on some niche? Would you join/attend a master class on the topics conducted by us? Do let us know in the comments!