ASME Releases Report on Future Trends in Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineers over the next two decades will be called upon to develop technologies that foster a cleaner, healthier, safer and sustainable global environment. According to the ASME report, 2028 Vision for Mechanical Engineering, mechanical engineers will need to collaborate with partners worldwide in order to apply innovative solutions and best practices to improve quality of life for all people.

“Mechanical engineers can be at the forefront of developing new technology for environmental remediation, farming and food production, housing, transportation, safety, security, healthcare and water resources,” says the report, which is based on the proceedings of The Global Summit on the Future of Mechanical Engineering, held April 16-18, 2008, in Washington, D.C. The summit, hosted by ASME at the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, convened more than 120 engineering and science leaders from 19 countries to define the elements of a shared vision that will keep the profession at the forefront of grand challenges and great contributions over the next 20 years.

Among the challenges, sustainable development, says the ASME report, will be a shared vision in the worldwide technical community, involving collaboration tools that allow “mechanical engineers to tap into the collective wisdom of an organization or network of stakeholders.”

Collaboration also will facilitate the development of innovations in nanotechnology, biotechnology, and large-scale systems. According to the report, nanotechnology and biotechnology will dominate technological development in the next 20 years and will be incorporated into all aspects of technology that affect lives on a daily basis. “Nano-bio will provide the building blocks that future engineers will use to solve pressing problems in diverse fields including medicine, energy, water management, aeronautics, agriculture and environmental management.”

Other topics examined at the summit and discussed in the report include intellectual property, engineering education and lifelong learning, diversity, virtual design environments, and home-based fabrication.

“Engineers will be able to act as independent operators interacting with colleagues around the world,” the report says. “Engineers can design at home with advanced CAD systems or in collaboration with their global colleagues in virtual worlds. They will be able to use home-based fabrication technology to test many of their designs.”

The report states: “As mechanical engineering looks to 2028, leaders will value people with diverse expertise and experience. They will bring this global profession together to keep the promise of technology serving people. They will inspire men and women everywhere to believe that grand challenges are a rally cry for a profession that is ready for the adventure of making the difficult doable.”

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