ENGINEERING TRENDS FOR 2012 AND BEYOND

December 21, 2011


ENGINEERING TRENDS FOR 2012 AND BEYOND

It’s been an interesting year and one which will not be soon forgotten.  I definitely feel actions taken, or not taken, have provided the groundwork for 2012 to be a pivotal year in our nation’s history.  I also feel there have been significant engineering activities that will drive us to much greater technical accomplishments next year and years beyond.  On one hand, 2012 could be a rough ride for those of us who work for a living and yet engineering developments and scientific discoveries could possibly generate thousands, if not millions, of jobs.  I will indicate what I feel are this year’s most important secular stories AND this years most important engineering advancements.   I think you will find significant differences in tone and optimism.  Here goes:

WORLD STAGE:

  • Leaving Iraq—The good news, we are out.  The bad news, all of our returning Vets will need jobs and those jobs are not necessarily waiting their return.  The cost of the war in human capital was tremendously devastating but, it’s over.
  • Death of Osama Bin Laden—Bin Laden was the “face” of terrorism for the United States.  His death was a necessary event for us to move on.
  • Japanese Earthquake and subsequent tsunami—This event was absolutely devastating to the Tohoku area of Japan and the Fukushima Nuclear power plant.  The effects will be lasting for decades to come.
  • Fall of Joe Paterno and Penn State—Even though Mr. Paterno was seemingly a bystander in the events leading up to his resignation, the damage to Penn State and the educational system will remain for quite some time.   Students, by necessity, have become much more suspicious of authority in general but this event heightens their suspicions.
  • Blago trial—Illinois just can’t seem to catch a break.  The past two governors have been indicted and will serve time for basic greed and other misdeeds.  (Must be the water!)
  • Casey Anthony trial—This proves you can keep your mouth shut and get away with just about anything.
  • GOP hopefuls and their run for the White House—A modern mess. There must be a better way to achieve the nomination.  The political slander is shameful.
  • $15 Trillion US debt
  • Financial difficulties in Europe and with the “euro”
  • Arab “spring” – As a results of various “social networks”, people in the Middle-East are finding out what they are missing.
  • Death of Moammar Gadhafi—His death certainly marks a turning point for Libya
  • Fall of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak
  • A remarkably ineffective US Congress—Does anyone really know how these folks spend their time?
  • A President who refuses to engage and lead
  • Saying goodbye to our manned space flight effort—A huge mistake on our part and one in which we will regret for decades to come.
  • Residential housing “meltdown”—A well officiated game in the NFL has more oversight than given to “Freddie” and “Fanny”.  Another shameful episode.
  • 9.2% unemployment
  • Discovery of largest black hole in the known universe
  • “Earth-like” planets “
  • Death of Kim Jong-Il

I am sure I have missed a few but these events will have lasting effects upon the United States and other countries of the world.  

 Now, let’s take a look at those engineering and scientific accomplishments that WILL change our lives for the better.  In my opinion, these will alter how we live, the products we use and our ability to pull ourselves from the financial morass we are in.  Here is my list:

ENGINEERING AND SCIENTIFIC

  • Launch of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner—80% of this remarkable commercial airplane is assembled using composite materials.  These strong but lightweight materials provide a 20% improvement in fuel economy.  This product demonstrates what is possible with other products using composites and how “thinking big” can make a difference.
  • “I” devices—I-phone, I-pad, Apple computers, all give us designs that complement our lives and (again ) demonstrate what can be accomplished with vision and good old fashioned hard work.
  • Going “green”—Efforts to conserve will be with us for the foreseeable future and should be.   As a society, we need to recognize that our very existence results from the ecology around us.
  • RFID technology—A tremendously important method of controlling and documenting “stuff”.  A remarkably fast-moving technology.
  • Application (apps) software for “smart” devices—The possibilities are endless.
  • Adhesives—More and more, adhesives are replacing traditional methods of fastening components together.  In many instances, nuts, bolts, weldments, etc can be replaced with lower cost adhesives.
  • Large Hadron Collider—This device, located at CERN, can possibly provide the answers to how our universe came to be.  The search for the “god” particle (Higgs Boson) is underway at this time.
  • NASA Kepler Telescope—A remarkable engineering feat!  Kepler is discovering worlds we only imagined a few years ago. 
  • NANO technology—NANO technology promises to improve noninvesative medical procedures and provide doctors with information on a micro level.  Other uses are just as exciting and long lasting.
  • Advances in laser technology and fiber optics—Improvements in band width and baud rate will result from these efforts.  Who knows, if the FED gets out of the picture maybe there will come a day in which there will be no dropped calls.
  • Rapid prototyping—This emerging technology can provide manufacturers and design engineers with prototypes within hours.  The various processes can be hastened to launch better products much faster than ever before. 
  • Access to clean water—We sometimes think that oil and petroleum products drive our societies. Not true—it’s clean water.  This is the resource we absolutely cannot do without.  Efforts are now underway to better utilize and manage this non-renewable resource.
  • Secure cyberspace—The day will come when true security is possible and we will no longer fear the “hacker”.  At that time, we will only have the CIA, FBI and IRS to worry about.
  • Advancements in semiconductors—These advancements will lead to the development of products on a micro scale and foster continued development of NANO technology.  We will be able to do more with less.

I think you can see the great optimism relative to the second list.  Please notice the contrast.  This is one reason that some of us, although dimensioning in number, choose to be engineers and not politicians.

 

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12 Responses to “ENGINEERING TRENDS FOR 2012 AND BEYOND”

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  6. JL Says:

    Hey Cielo! I’m a college mechE/aero student so I find your engineering trend recap to be a good review. Here in soCal, space is still around, but it’s clearly taken a hit in the US view. Out of curiosity, why do you think citizens will regret this change? Do you feel that the rest of society sees something further to be gained by nasa, spacex, rocketdyne etc, and do you predict a shift from space/military back to commercial development?

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    • cielotech Says:

      Hello JL. I feel our government has made a huge-tremendous mistake in closing the maned-spacecraft program. We will live to regret that decision when the Russians, Chinese and Indians surge ahead of the technology we created. A huge error on our part. Take care.

      Like


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