The engineering profession is key to developing solutions to the challenges that society must overcome, Engineers Ireland past president Regina Moran told delegates at the organisation’s Annual Conference
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The engineering profession is key to developing solutions to the challenges that society must overcome, according to Regina Moran, president of Engineers Ireland and chief executive officer of Fujitsu Ireland.

Moran was speaking at the Engineers Ireland Annual Conference, which took place in the Malton Hotel, Killarney, from May 14-15. She added that today’s long-term infrastructural planning has to start with the needs of humans in a world of decreasing natural resources, increasing the need for engineers to achieve improvement and design better solutions.

Over the past 20 years, a combination of computing, connectivity and the internet has seen the world’s digital economy grow from zero to tens of trillions of euro. As of 2013, about 10 billion devices are online and connected to the internet. This number is likely to reach 50 billion or more in 2020.

According to Moran, we live in amazing times. The pace of change is rapid and the future will look a lot different to the past and present, as technology and engineering increasingly converge.

There is a collision between the physical world and the digital world, which is creating opportunities for all of us in the engineering and technology sectors,” she said. “A new generation of the internet is emerging. People and the things around us, are all linked together, sharing information.

“More connectivity means more collaboration. It means vanishing boundaries. It means changes to the way businesses work and how society creates value. It also means risk and uncertainty. It means the future will be different from the past.”

The hyperconnected world, which Moran describes as a new industrial revolution, could have serious implications that engineers need to be aware of. The revolution is taking place as an increasing number of things are connected to the internet and almost all things are connected to each other.

“The digital world will connect your car, washing machine, air conditioner, even your light bulbs. As the number of end points increases, so does the amount of information.

“Harnessing information gives us new insight and greater control of our world. It creates knowledge. It also carries risk. With so much of what we do in the physical world now written down in bits in the digital world, we face a serious challenge to secure what we do and protect our privacy.

“We must defend ourselves from ever-increasing malicious threats. We must avoid the chaos that change always has the potential to bring. But digitalization has the power to put humans at the centre of technology for positive social outcomes.”

Future technology trends will have a real impact on engineering as a profession and how some of these great challenges are met. Moran sees Engineers Ireland as being in a unique position, representing 24,000 engineers from multiple disciplines, and being able to “harness the power of convergence of engineering, underpinned by technology, to make a real difference to planning and building a human centric society”.

With the increased importance of quality infrastructure clear for all to see, Moran cited the Building Control Regulations as a crucial step by Ireland in the improvement of delivered infrastructure, with human safety at its core. According to Moran, the support of suitably certified engineers to underpin these regulations will ensure this long into the future.

The growth of the hyperconnected world will have huge implications for businesses and will introduce fresh challenges for resource management, healthcare and our environment. “Engineering talent and the growth of our profession is vitally important for the human centric innovation that is needed,” she said.

Moran concluded by asking those in attendance to imagine the important role Engineers Ireland can play as a human centric society is planned and delivered in these changing times.

“Imagine a future where technology and engineering supports real social change, where the availability of computing, sensors and connectivity enhances the quality of human life in all parts of the world.

“Where social infrastructure is planned and delivered using human centric innovations and where collaboration and the sharing economy maximises the use of scarce natural resources.”

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  The engineering profession is key to developing solutions to the challenges that society must overcome, according to Regina Moran, president of Engineers Ireland and chief executive officer of Fujitsu Ireland. Moran was speaking at the Engineers Ireland Annual Conference, which took place in the Malton Hotel, Killarney, from May 14-15....