If we were to peek around the corner of time to see what technologies are going to be most important in the mechanical engineering field, what would they be? lets look at what are the most likely world-changing disciplines:
Renewable Power Generation
Renewable energy production will always be in demand, especially with Western Culture’s resource-hungry hyperconsumerism. In past posts, we discussed power generation and storage innovations like ocean current power and even more radical approaches like glass roads.
Another unlikely source of renewable energy is waste. Waste streams could account for 100,000 megawatts of electricity in the U.S. alone.
Nanotechnology (or “nanotech” as it’s sometimes called) is the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in medicine, electronics, biomaterials and energy production.
Nanotech also introduces some serious questions such as it’s environmental and global economic impact (as does any impactful technology), but the long-range implications are fascinating.
Carbon Sequestration is the long-term storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon to either mitigate or defer global warming and avoid dangerous climate change. It’s a world-saving technology that could slow the atmospheric and marine accumulation of greenhouse gases, which are released by burning fossil fuels.
The combination of mechanics, electronics, and other technical areas created a hot and growing profession called mechatronics. It’s a multidisciplinary field that unites the principles of mechanics, electronics, and computing into a simpler, more economical and reliable system.
The Parker Indego™ Powered Orthosis is a prime example of what mechatronics can accomplish (see video).
Black Swan Technologies
A Black Swan is the name given by author Nassim Nicholas Taleb to certain kinds of rare and unpredictable events that cause extreme disruption. A black swan technology is an unforseen development that isn’t constrained by current infrastructure. It changes the rules.
Examples of this include the internet and mobile devices.
Writes Vinod Khosla in the book This Will Make You Smarter: Who would be crazy enough to have forecast in 2000 that by 2010 almost twice as many people in India would have access to cell phones as to latrines?
Dependable, long-lasting, custom-made air-cooled heat exchangers by Smithco Engineering.
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