Digital Darwinism shaping career trends in engineering

With increasing demand for new technology, the future will belong to engineers. Here’s a lowdown on some of the specialisations that will be most in demand in the next decade  

As the technological evolution unfolds, Digital Darwinism is fast becoming the buzzword in today’s super connected world. It essentially refers to the current digital landscape where technology and the society are evolving faster than businesses can acclimatise.  

The sheer speed and magnitude of digital transformation and emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Additive Manufacturing (AM), Big Data and automation, among others, are creating an epochal shift in the way businesses are managed and there is hardly any industry has been left untouched by the disruption.  

Innovations in digitization, analytics and automation are reshaping employment and the future of work and, according to experts, the role of engineers is being redefined like never before. Says Dr. Manish Prateek, Dean, UPES School of Computer Science: “With increasing demand for new technologies, a career in engineering would be lucrative and offer a range of opportunities in the near future. The prospects are surely bright for those with a specialisation in any of the emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, AI, ML, Big Data and Analytics.”  

Dr. Kamal Bansal, Dean, UPES School of Engineering, concurs that the future looks favourable for engineering graduates. “These are the people who are going to command some of the highest starting salaries, and keeping in view the growing demand, they will be spoilt for choice. They could look at career options as a data analyst, games developer, IT consultant, UX designer, web designer, application developer. There will be no dearth of jobs for people with the right qualifications and skill sets,” says Dr. Bansal.  

Engineering students looking for a long-term and rewarding career in this face-paced digital world could opt for a specialisation in any of the following:  

Artificial Intelligence: The term refers to the ability of a machine to perform tasks like humans. This technology makes it possible for computers to learn from experience and do the work that one would normally associate with human beings. From voice-powered personal assistants such as Siri and Alexa to self-driving automated vehicles endowed with powerful predictive capabilities, there are several examples of AI in use today.  

From voice-powered personal assistants such as Siri and Alexa to self-driving automated vehicles endowed with powerful predictive capabilities, there are several examples of AI in use today

Machine Learning: ML has already revolutionised the way many industries function. It basically refers to the process of programming a computer to make accurate predictions when data is fed into it, ideally going on to perform tasks beyond what it has been specifically programmed for. It can analyse massive datasets and perform a variety of actions, depending on the nature of the industry it is applied to. For instance, ML has made image recognition and text translation possible.   

Additive Manufacturing: Sometimes also referred to as 3D Printing, AM is a process that creates a physical object from a digital design. It is a futuristic approach to industrial production that paves the way for creation of lighter, stronger parts and systems. It’s a computer-controlled process that creates three-dimensional objects by depositing materials, usually in layers. AM and 3D printing have their uses in a host of sectors such as healthcare, construction, retail, defence, pharma, aerospace and the automotive industry.   

Blockchain: This technology has had a cataclysmic impact on sectors such as banking, insurance, hospitality, retail, health and pharmaceuticals. Blockchains can make trusted third parties (notaries, banking trades and land registry) dispensable and replace them with distributed computer systems. This breakthrough technology can rationalise all the functions associated with asset management and payments. It makes intermediaries or brokers redundant and ensures effective management of transactional data.   

Internet of Things: Be it a smart watch or a smart television, the application of Internet of Things can be seen in all spheres of life these days. IoT keeps tabs on our behaviour, preferences and usage, and silently works at the backend to deliver a highly personalised experience. The ‘thing’ in the Internet of Things can be a person with a heart monitor implant, an automobile that has built-in sensors to notify the driver when fuel is low or any other object that can be assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address and is able to transfer data over a network without requiring human intervention. In the days ahead IoT devices are expected to have wide-spread use for several general-purpose computing tasks.   

The disruptive changes that are taking place today will be the crucible of tomorrow’s engineers and provide exciting opportunities for those with a futuristic mindset. The adoption of pioneering technology is at the threshold of a radical transformation or what we call Industry 4.0. In such a scenario, engineering graduates will find themselves uniquely poised to tackle many of the emerging challenges and ensure that the workplaces not only adapt, but also thrive in the new digital ecosystem.  


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