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WHAT'S THE FUTURE OF ENGINEERING IN THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT?

Author: Richard Snarey

Published date: 2020/01

Eng

​Wouldn’t it be great to look into the future? Sure, the winning lottery numbers would be handy, but we’re talking about having the ability to predict industry changes so that organisations can plan effectively. 

The built environment sector remains a moveable feast, with innovations and trends constantly changing the game. Built environment engineers have to be prepared to embrace a range of new skills that extend far beyond the engineering science they have traditionally relied upon. 

Based on our observations and conversations with clients, we take a look at some of the top trends that are set to define built environment engineering this year and beyond. 

No Glasses Required 

Engineers in the built environment will already be aware of 3D printing, but we’re set to see its application rise. The method involves a computer-programmed robotic arm that squeezes strips of concrete from a nozzle to create layers that produce the desired structure. 

It’s thought that 20 commercial buildings around the world have been built using this method so far, with the first being by COBOD International, in the Danish capital Copenhagen, in 2017. Leading the way in 3D printing is Dubai, which boasts the world’s first 3D printed office, with the government aiming for 25 per cent of all new buildings constructed via 3D printing by 2030. 

As with any technology, the rise of 3D printing will result in the emergence of new roles. This means that the right education and training is crucial for organisations to be able to adapt and embrace this change. 

Let’s Get Sustainable 

It’s a trend that isn’t going away. In fact, sustainability is only going to gather more momentum over the next decade. While this is a wide-ranging area, one thing we’re set to see more of is Building Regulations increasing the importance of the design and build thermal performance of new buildings. We’ll see better thermal performance materials and designs developed that will make future buildings resilient and cost-efficient while, crucially, reducing environmental impact. 

Climate change sits at the top of the agenda in the built environment and for a good reason. Currently, buildings contribute up to 40 per cent of greenhouse gases in the world’s developed economies, which is why now’s the time to start engineering new low carbon construction solutions. The challenge facing the sector comes down to creating sustainable solutions that are accessible for all construction projects, not just those organisations with large budgets. So, not only does the tech have to be developed quickly, it needs to be affordable right away so that it can be used as standard. 

Focus On Wellbeing 

An October report released by Masculinity in Engineering found that almost one in five engineers has lost a colleague to suicide, while more than a fifth have had to take time off work because of their mental health. 

Of the report, Mark McBride-Wright, founder and managing director of EqualEngineers, told Personnel Today: “Engineering is a traditionally male, white-dominated sector. It can be very lonely if you feel even a little bit ‘different’ to the supposed ‘norm’. We need to create a culture where men can be vulnerable and can understand their own diversity story. We do not have this in our male-majority industry, and we need to work to bring down the psychological barriers preventing it.”

Based on feedback we receive from our clients, employee wellbeing is a priority moving forward. What does this mean? Focusing on wellbeing could be anything from organisations offering counselling services, flexible hours and arranging social activities, all the way through to adapting the physical work environment in terms of space, lighting and acoustics. 

What’s In Store For Your Engineering Career In 2020? 

If you’re looking for a fresh challenge, PRS can help. Browse our latest roles in technical engineering or register your CV today for a member of the PRS team to get in touch.