3 Engineering Trends to Watch for in 2017

Engineering trends are constantly changing to meet the fluctuating needs of the global market, and of the consumers and governments that rely on their innovations and expertise. The upcoming year promises new challenges that will need to be met by the field of engineering.

In 2017, here are three of the biggest trends we think you should look out for.

1. Sustainable Development

Each year, we become more acutely aware of the need for sustainable development and practices. The problem posed by diminishing resources, and the need for more socially equitable resource consumption, is becoming increasingly apparent—and the engineering industry is taking notice. Sustainable development is poised to become one of the major engineering trends of 2017. Engineering firms are looking for ways to make their practices and products more sustainable, and are looking for engineers who have specialized knowledge in eco-friendly development.

The trend towards sustainable development will be especially pronounced in engineering fields associated with resource extraction and its effects—including petroleum engineering, geophysical engineering, and chemical engineering. In these fields, where engineers are responsible for determining the most efficient ways of extracting oil, natural gas, and minerals, there will be a real need for engineers able to identify more sustainable methods of extraction. Sustainable technology will also continue to trend in 2017. The need for innovation and growth in the fields of wind energy engineering, water resource engineering, and solar engineering will continue to rise, as companies and governments continue to look for more sustainable ways of acquiring and using energy.

2. Energy Efficiency

Another growing concern, and one that is related to the need for sustainable development, is the trend towards more energy efficient technology. Energy consumption is becoming an increasingly large issue, especially in areas like the construction industry, which accounts for a large portion of our total energy use. The call to reduce carbon emissions has become a prominent—and heated—political issue in the last few years, with increasing pressure being put on corporations and governments to drastically reduce their carbon footprint.

In 2015, over 180 countries signed the Paris agreement, in which they promised to limit their carbon emissions. Achieving these goals will mean using significantly less energy, as more efficient energy use will make up a large portion of the promised reductions. Due to these global emissions goals, energy efficient engineering is on track to become one of the biggest trends in 2017. Engineers specializing in energy efficiency will be in great demand, and engineer efficient technology will become increasingly commonplace. Like with the sustainable developmenttrend, there will a growing demand for engineers in fields such as petroleum, geophysical, chemical, and nuclear engineering, as well as wind energy, water resource, and solar engineering.

3. Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology engineering, which is focused on solutions at the molecular level, has traditionally been poorly marketed and poorly misunderstood by industry experts. But in 2017, nanotechnology is set to become a much larger trend in the engineering industry.

Nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary engineering field drawing on subjects as diverse as chemistry, quantum physics, and biology to build objects, beginning at the molecular stage. Because of the diversity of knowledge associated with nanotechnology, it has multiple uses. Nanotechnology is set to become an especially big trend in the construction industry, where it has the potential to provide solutions for complex problems facing construction products and projects, and where it can potentially reorganize the processes surrounding construction. Nanotechnology can also be related to sustainable development and energy efficiency, as it can be used to increase product efficiency, and to test for environmental pollution.

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