Senior Vice President, Global Design Solutions, Avnet
Years ago, I lost a best friend in an auto accident. As I watch the automotive industry rapidly
adopt new innovations such as interactive safety
and automated driver-assisted systems, along with
self-driving cars, I realize the biggest change in engineering is
that connectivity is foundational; “sense, measure, and act” is
becoming a part of our daily lives. The creative element—or
the “art” of engineering—is becoming as vital as the science of
How a product communicates in an interconnected world—
along with what role it plays in this vast new organism of
devices—will be just as essential as the function the product
performs. Engineers will need to retool the way they think
about design—from a device to an ecosystem perspective. That’s
because sensors and communications are being built into nearly
everything. There will be more than 28 billion connected Internet
of Things (Io T) devices by 2020, according to IDC. We are taking
the physical world and digitizing it at an accelerated pace.
Cars that talk to each other along with their surrounding
environment will inevitably save lives—of family and best
friends alike. Factory automation will require new engineering
approaches as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning
technology require new predictive algorithms for optimizing
factory production, as well as orchestrating self-learning robots
and machines. In healthcare, engineers will need to rethink
how they design solutions for interconnected systems that
understand the real-time state of someone’s health and take
This interconnectedness means that engineering will be
become much more data and software driven. We will see
a lot more engineering work focused on solving massive
computational challenges of ecosystems generating a much more
data—in real time. This will be made possible as computational
speeds increase a thousand-fold during the next 10 years and as
machine learning accelerates.
Interconnectedness changes won’t be just between devices.
Real-time voice translation is quickly advancing. Soon, we
will see the technology embedded in smartphones and other
communications devices, removing the last remaining barrier to
Director, University of New Hampshire InterOerability Lab
We live in a world centered around gadgets, consumerism, and efficiency, pushing
technology into every facet of our lives, and in turn
impacting the state of engineering.
As technology becomes more integrated
into society, I believe engineering
will evolve through education. As an
example, when your washing machine
sends updates your GPS that re-route
you to stop at a store, engineers need
to understand both the technical details
and the potential societal impact.
Today’s learners are comfortable with
such technology, and embrace new
opportunities through exploration and
Two aspects of education will drive the
evolution—individualized learning and
traditional primary/secondary systems.
Individualized learning will stem from
the desire to tinker, modify, and train
products to fit individualized needs.
Opportunities for learning outside the
classroom via online training is one
example. In recent years, we’ve also seen
an effort to push coding and electrical
engineering knowledge into high school or
even middle school levels.
Both trends lead to employer
expectations that the majority of
Q: As technology becomes more and more intertwined into society,
how will the state of engineering evolve in the coming years?
Central Semiconductor Corp . . . . . . . . 7
Components Corporation . . . . . . . . . . 24
Data Image..................... 17
Digi-Key Electronics . . . . . . . . . . . . 1, 2
EPCOSAG .................... 19
Harwin Plc UK.................. 11
i2i Events ...................... 22
Services, Inc. .................... 25
Memory Protection Devices, Inc . . . . 28
MORNSUN Power............... 16
OKW Enclosures................. 21
PCBCart ...................... 15
Pico Electronics, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Precision Paper Tube Co . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Rogers Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Rutronik Electronics Worldwide . . . . . 13
The Bergquist Company . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Universe Kogaku................. 12
Wings Co., Ltd for Human Data Ltd. 22
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