There are a multitude of engineering problems currently in the world and they will have to be faced over the coming years, and for many years to come. These challenges are related to healthcare, energy sources, security and the environment among many more. However all of these issues have the common goal of improving humans’ everyday quality of life.
Engineering is centered around facing and solving technical challenges. It is an engineers job and responsibility to tackle these challenges and keep humanity ahead of the curve, so to speak.
The engineering problems include, but are not limited to the following:
It is essential for the health of this planet that alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, hydropower etc. continue to grow and provide an increasing percentage of the energy consumed around the globe. At the moment fossil fuels are producing copious amounts of greenhouse gases and this is adversely affecting the health of our planet (more on this in a later section).
The contribution of alternative energy and fuel sources at the moment total at 6%, which is not nearly enough to counteract the damage that fossil fuels are causing. BP estimates that by 2035, 45% of the total energy consumed on planet earth will be generated by renewable and alternative sources.
Water covers 75% percent of the earth, but shockingly only 3% of this water is drinkable. Furthermore, 67% of the drinkable water is frozen at both of the planet’s polar ice caps! Making sure the water is clean and accessible to everyone is one of the human race’s most basic needs, unfortunately as of 2019 2 billion people have high water stress in their area. Almost half of the total population on earth experiences water shortages at least once every month.
Dirty water kills more people worldwide than wars every year, this means that even though water is plentiful on the planet’s surface, the challenge is transporting the water to where it’s needed. The worst affected countries are generally in Africa and the Middle East, where the water will have to be transported and desalinated before the residents can drink it.
Solar desalination plants, like the one set up In Kenya by GivePower, have begun to help this problem by desalinating seawater and producing enough fresh water for up to 25,000 people a day.
Climate change is one of the biggest problems in the modern world, and it is a problem not just limited to engineers. Engineers will more than likely be the source of the solution in the limited time that is available to them. The United Nations (UN) has stated that we have until 2030 to make the necessary changes to avoid irreversible damage to the planet. Emissions need to be reduced by 45% before that time, and reach zero-net emissions by 2050.
Disasters like the 2018 California wildfires and food shortages are now linked to our changing climate, and engineers are frantically searching for methods of reducing our emissions output. Reducing pollution generated by large companies, ensuring future generations of engineers have a focus on the environment and using alternative energy sources to satisfy our energy needs are just some of the methods employed by current engineers.
Computers and electronics have become an integral part of the world, but this comes with a downside. They are privy to our entire life and all of the private information that comes with it. Cyber crime has become a very real threat in recent times and it is evolving as time goes on. It can destroy lives and businesses by taking everything that a person or entity has.
Money is generally the target for unscrupulous cyber criminals, with 34% of data breaches occurring at financial institutions like banks etc., with 11% happening at retail stores and a further 13% at government businesses. Engineers will be tasked into the future to find ways to prevent these criminals from gaining access to private funds and information.
Encouraging Young Engineers
As mentioned previously, it is a huge responsibility of current engineers to encourage young and ambitious engineers to tackle the issues that we will be facing in the next 10 years or so. Engineering ethics will need to be passed over to keep the quality of work consistent, and to continuously improve and preserve the quality of life for the people on this planet.
One main issue that the next generation of engineers will have to face is infrastructure. Especially in America and in other parts of the world, the infrastructure is either old or non-existent. The real challenge will be finding ways to improve the existing infrastructure in developed areas while not causing any further problems to the existing issues that commuters face.
Healthcare and medicine are essential areas for engineers to focus on for a multitude of (quite obvious) reasons. Healthcare will always exist and medicine will always be needed, ingenuity and innovation is highly encouraged in this field and new inventions are constantly being developed in an attempt to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of current technology.
One particular area of focus is the difference in how individuals react to the same treatment. This will result in personalised strategies and medicines for defeating drug-resistant illnesses, and along with new systems of processing genetic information engineers will improve healthcare and help to overcome the future challenges associated with it.
As with all engineering innovation and creations, the problems that engineers face are also endless and will continue until the end of time. Engineers have made a huge difference to the modern world, and will continue to influence it in a positive way in the future. Once there are problems to be solved, there will always be work for an engineer!
Do you have anything to add to this list? What do you think about the future problems that engineers face? Let us know with a comment down below!