Mangement For Design

Quarterly eMag

The Future of Engineering

What does the future look like for our industry in 2030? How will our work change throughout the next decade and where will we be by the end of this decade? If you aren’t thinking about these questions now, you are already behind the pace.

In this article, we identify some of the biggest changes we expect to see in the next 10 years and ways your firm can adapt and benefit from them into the future.


Development of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is encroaching on our everyday lives—affecting what we do and how we do it. As these systems and technologies develop and become more reliable, they will be integrated into design processes with the power to solve complex problems and the ability to create limitless variations—replacing, enhancing, or replicating the work that was previously completed by the designer.

Your firm must be prepared to embrace change and be flexible to new approaches to working. You need to be thinking ahead and be open to the possibilities of technology. To do this, you will need to stay current with new and emerging technologies every year, including software, applications, languages and programs.

Artificial Intelligence will have the capability to think ahead and make more and more decisions that are currently performed by humans. Our machines will have the capacity to design, complete project planning, do the economics on projects, and assist in just about everything we do. Audio inputs will allow us to describe our concepts and designs verbally so that the system can then produce a myriad of physical documents and solutions. The role of the engineer will be profoundly impacted by technology over the next 10 years.
The underlying methodology is that design is initiated and developed via sophisticated coding. Once the options are developed and tested the resultant solution can be codified, stored, repeated, and altered. The design process will not only make the design process far more comprehensive, but also far more efficient.


Gen Z’s will be taking over

As the next generation – “Generation Z” – becomes more influential (and begins to take over) a new culture will emerge in your firm. This generation will have a new way of doing things that is quicker, easier, more considered. They will, however, be more demanding and have higher expectations.

Conversely, clients will also have the same expectations—they want the project completed quicker, more effectively, more sustainably. They will demand that work is performed perfectly the first time, and they want to pay less for it.

As a leader of your firm, you need to be thinking of ways to address this and get ahead of the fast-paced changes that are evolving. Perhaps focus on incremental changes, such as eliminating time-recording and replacing this with the achievement of agreed objectives. Hours worked is irrelevant to Gen Z’ers.

Ultimately, you must be willing to change your current business practices and embrace the new ways of working that an in-demand and changing talent pool will be seeking. In essence, they will be the leaders and drivers of change in the coming future.


Leadership transition will be extremely important

Ownership transition will be different in the next decade and it is something that your firm will need to have a strong focus on into the future. Research has indicated that the retirement (transition) age in the industry continues to increase, and leaders have become less willing—or less able—to transition their businesses to the next generation, while the younger generation doesn’t necessarily see the value of buying into existing firms.

It is now time to rethink your approach to ownership transition. Your firm won’t continue to develop or progress without the involvement of new leaders. Begin involving “millennials” in key decisions for your firm, let them brainstorm ideas and ways to move your business forward. Have a regular “millennial” meeting, where you discuss things that will drive your business forward and improve the current ways of working and strategies. Entrust millennials now – engage them in leadership decisions. There is a great personal and financial reward in leadership succession. If you can change your thinking around leadership succession, you’ll be ahead of many other Engineering practices. Start with transitioning your decision making, your client relationships, and your design decisions. Give your people exposure to business management and give them clear expectations and responsibilities.


The New Industrial Revolution

Advanced technologies are changing the way things are designed and made. The changes are so profound that many people call it a new industrial revolution. Generative design, virtual reality, robots, interconnected systems of sensors, 3D printing or additive manufacturing, and biological synthesis will all play a part in the formation of the built environment of 2030.

What are your firm’s capabilities, how will your systems adapt, and how are you upskilling and broadening your capabilities in these areas? As a leader in your firm, you need to be cognisant of the value you provide to your clients. Your firm is not the work you do, it’s the solutions you provide—regardless of how they are achieved.

Where there is change there is opportunity. Rather than these technologies replacing jobs, the scope of engineering’s influence will continue to grow. As such, engineering is poised to experience a renaissance—new applications and jobs will be popping up around every corner, especially in disrupted industries.

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