Future of Engineering

June 17, 2011

Yesterday I delivered a key talk “Future of Engineering” at CAE/PLM Multi-D Forum organized by NIAEP in Nizhny Novgorod (http://niaep.ru/ru/455/). Here is outline of engineering trends that I presented there:

1. Merging with software engineering:

  • Software-intensive systems and cyber-physical systems as systems-of-interest
  • Model-oriented engineering (virtual systems: testing in computer). System definition is completely done with software tools.
  • Generative engineering (generation of engineering solutions by software: knowledge acquisition of engineering knowledge that suited not for humans but for software programs.
  • According to BKCASE and GRCSE projects, systems engineering education should include full-fledged education of software engineer. Soon it will be the same for every engineering specialties.
  • Conclusion: generation change of engineering technologies will be with the same impetuosity as in case of software technologies: one in five years.

2. Merging of engineering and engineering management.

  • ISO 15288 have only one technical (i.e. “true systems engineering”) process from four. Other three are belong to engineering management disciplines.
  • According to ASEM Handbook technology management and systems engineering are part of engineering management.  Also ASEM perform survey that show 50% of engineers obtain some of management functions during first 5 years of their work.
  • Lean, agile, collaborative engineering, concurrent engineering and other non-cascade life cycle kinds requiring different organizations of engineers. Choosing one of life cycle kinds is management or engineering task?
  • engineering thinking in management: factory physics, enterprise engineering.

Conclusion: engineering and management merged now de facto, in nearest future they tend to be joint discipline.

3. Explicating of engineering knowledge.

  • System thinking and philosophical logic as a base discipline (not only mathematics).
  • Engineering method research (engineering heuristics vs scientific theories), non-classical logics.
  • Situational method engineering.
  • Pattern languages, architectural patterns.
  • Reference processes frameworks, bodies of knowledge, method components catalogs, methodologies.
  • Generative design and generative manufacturing: computer should invent, not only simulate.
  • Knowledge management and capturing of tacit knowledge.

Conclusion: art and mastery of today will be in curriculum tomorrow, level of art and mastery will be significantly higher.

4. New methods of systems definition.

  • GORE
  • Architectural languages (SysML and AADL is only first, ontology-based languages will be next).
  • TRIZ, DSM.
  • Multi-physic simulations and behavioral modeling.
  • Model-oriented engineering and virtual mock-ups.
  • Data-centric engineering and data logistics (data-centric information management).
  • Collaborative design and concurrent engineering.
  • Generative design.

Conclusion: old engineers needs retraining to perform system definition of nearest future.

5. New methods of system realization.

  • New materials (composites, nano-, meta-).
  • Additive manufacturing, 3D printing.
  • Generative manufacturing.
  • Robotics.
  • New modularity, new logistics, new construction and assembly (Broad Group from China construct 15 store building in 6 days, preparing to construct 666 meters hight skyscraper in 4 months).

Conclusion: competition of engineering companies in nearest years will be more sever than you can imaging now.

6. Additional requirement from market and regulations.

  • Safety greater than in nature environment.
  • Environment cleaner than in raw nature.
  • Non-defectedness (6 sigma: 3.4 defects for 1mln. products).
  • De facto lessening role of intellectual property regulations.

Conclusion: changing requirement change the concept of “impossible”.

7. Expansion to non-traditional material.

  • Software engineering (this is past trend but still important).
  • Gene and bio-engineering.
  • Molecular and nano-machines, meta-materials, drugs engineering.
  • Enterprise engineering.
  • Social engineering (ignoring all the critics).
  • Underwater mining engineering.
  • New physics (quantum devices, plasma, doubtful LENR and Mach effect devices).
  • Systems of systems (including engineering of standard based extra large distributed systems, e.g. internet).

Conclusion: improbable earlier diversification of engineering and engineering specialties.

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5 Responses to “Future of Engineering”

  1. Sivam Krish Says:

    Anatoly , you are one of the first people to talk about generative manufacturing. I had blogged about this possibility in my blog on “Generative Design”. Do you have any written material on this ?

  2. ailev Says:

    No, I am definitely not the first that talk about generative manufacturing and generative production systems. There are a lot of papers about it, and there are fresh review of it (e.g. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1911631). But actual generative manufacturing barely exist yet, it is now only hot research topic, not business one.

    I have no texts devoted to generative life cycle. I am understand that computer-aided tools start with simulations/virtualization (analysis), then generate design (synthesis), and only then produce “realization program” (generate manufacturing process, i.e. plan activity in real world). I will write about this sequence of generative technology developmental life cycle in nearest future.

  3. Sivam Krish Says:

    Thanks Ailev, for the excellent pointer. The paper by stephan fox is very interesting.


  4. It is very exciting for us to hear those things.. We are engineers from Spain and co-funders of vortica: cognitive engineering for design (www.vortica.es) trying to share with companies beneficts os generative method in engineering and mutidisciplinar problems. We allways talk about the complex shapes that architects gets by using this technology, anyway, we are focused on the simplicity of complex, I mean, try to change designers role but looking for the same goals: To get the better result, to control user needs, to manage design needs…etc.

    nice, very nice….


  5. […] Future of Engineering, (Anatoly Levenchuk) […]


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