What are the career options for Mechanical Engineers in future? This is a question that many a students, aspiring engineers ask their teachers, mentors on a regular basis. In this article, I have tried to answer this query for all mechanical engineers that will help them look at and plan a career from a perspective of where the world around us will be in the next 20 years.  

Mechanical engineering will evolve as a global profession over the next 20 years as it will playa key role in development of engineering solutions that support a cleaner, healthier, safer and sustainable world.  

Mechanical engineers play a critical role in technologies that serve people. Their skills will be needed to design new energy sources, make existing energy sources cleaner and improve existing energy sources. The major industries which will witness tremendous input from mechanical engineers ae environmental engineering, farming and food production, housing, transportation, safety, healthcare and water resources.  

As nations like India and China grow, everyone is at the cusp of some wonderful opportunities. This is going to bring in more than a billion people into the middle class which will make them utilize or rather exploit the world's resources. A major challenge for mechanical engineers will be to help these countries build a sustainable future.  

To make sure that the engineers are able to handle the emergent complex system, significant public support will be needed and mechanical engineers will have to be plugged into the political system and work as policy makers.  

An inherent quality, that has been a part of the character of great mechanical engineers throughout history to the next generation, is the joy of discovery. This will be a major reason of attracting young people into the profession of mechanical engineering, as it will allow the practitioners experience the joy of turning tough problems into breakthrough solutions serving all people.  

Due to an accelerating change in the development of new scientific and technological breakthroughs, the current practices of universities, colleges and professional societies are not adequate to prepare globally competent engineers and engineering leaders. These institutions should make new learning strategies to engage new learners to learn basic technical skills and acquire higher order thinking skills for innovation and problem solving.  

Globally there is a huge market for mechanical engineering that serves the poorest of us. In the next 20 years, almost 2 billion additional people are expected to populate the earth with 95% of them in developing or underdeveloped countries. This large and growing population will require access to food and clean water, sanitation, energy, education, healthcare and transportation.  

Mechanical engineers of today and tomorrow must be able to conceive and direct projects of enormous complexity that require a highly integrative view of engineering systems. Employers will be demanding engineers adept at integrating different disciplines, addressing increasingly complex customer and stakeholder requirements. Simulations and computer aided design will play a major role in this area.  

Nonotechnology is poised for even greater success over the next 20 years. It can be used to create more efficient solar cells that produce electricity cheaper than coal, to deliver drugs to a precise part of the body and to build terabyte data chips the size of postage stamps. Emerging technologies like CAD, materials, robotics, nanotechnology will likely come together to transform how engineers work.

  

So, the mechanical engineers must develop skills that will be relevant in the coming future and think on a global scale. The aim should be to develop core competencies in mechanical engineering and at the same time seek interdisciplinary technical skills for complex problem solving.  

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