How 21st Century Engineering Innovations Are Shaping the World
The future is bright and technology isn't slowing down anytime soon.
Changes in the ways homes are built, products are made and goods and services are sold throughout the last century have improved standards of living and the engineering innovations developed in the last twenty years and the rest of the twenty-first century promise to bring much more in all areas of life. These innovations are moving to more efficient ways of living in terms of environmental protection, resource conservation and manual labor, increasing lifespans as well as the quality of those lives around the world.
Architecture and Construction
Some of the most ground-breaking innovations so far have breath-taking visuals such as the Burj Khalifa and the Three Gorges Dam. These structures are the largest of their kind, with the Burj Khalifa housing the highest occupied floor and the Three Gorges Dam producing the most power. Even smaller projects benefit from the techniques used in building the world’s biggest with commercial concrete construction companies and architects looking at how to build structures designed to withstand natural forces.
AI and Computer Systems
Computer systems and artificial intelligence have improved by orders of magnitude this century and are a feat of engineering in and of themselves. They have also sparked innovations in terms of computer-aided design techniques, data analytics and medical research by allowing better visualization, information sharing and data mining for doctors, engineers and the public. AI and machine learning can spot cyber security threats and work to eliminate them, can answer customer questions more quickly than a phone or email inquiry, or comb through large data batches for analytics and reports faster than a human, bringing more businesses up to the speed of the internet.
Internet and Business
Not only can businesses reach a broader audience with an internet shop, they can track products and equipment through an Internet of Things. The IoT uses RFID tags to locate and track objects without human-to-computer or computer-to-computer interaction, allowing slimmer security tags on store merchandise, accurate shipment locations between and within warehouses, and even more efficient patient tracking and monitoring in hospitals. The internet is not the only innovation to help businesses, however, as new construction techniques, manufacturing methods and transportation routes lower overhead costs and streamline processes.
Smart Phones and Wi-Fi
Innovations in mobile smart devices such as cellular phones, tablets and laptop computers have paralleled innovations in Wi-Fi and mobile internet access, bringing the workplace and mall to wherever you are. These innovations include more ways to connect with loved ones, find new friends and learn information on the go. As the devices improve, the demand for better connectivity increases; and, as it becomes easier to find a Wi-Fi signal, the demand for faster and better devices goes up. Many parents have mobile devices to keep children occupied and learning while waiting for appointments or during travel, remote workers can have one smart device for private use and another, more secure, device for connecting to business files, and engineering teams can work together on projects in real-time from different points on the globe.
Sky Crane and Rovers
Many of the things used in daily life were once innovations of space programs around the world, and engineers are finding new uses for technology like Martian Rovers and the Sky Crane used to land them here on Earth. Robots designed from these devices can be deployed during disasters to find survivors and deliver supplies in areas hazardous to humans, move merchandise in warehouses and even deliver packages without clogging up the streets. While some of these functions have already been developed and successfully used, many others are being engineered for the future.
In the first twenty years of the twenty-first century, dozens of innovations have already improved the lives of people around the world. Buildings are more secure will less environmentally harmful, power generation is more efficient and human being are more interconnected with better communication. As these innovations become more commonplace, they can be built upon for further progress in areas of human health and wellbeing, economical building construction and environmental protection as well as many more.