“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
~ Arthur C. Clarke
Whether it is the automotive industry or the aerospace industry, as engineers we are more often than not focused on the future. Our daily work typically results in tomorrow’s innovations. When we plan, we often think out five or ten years. It is these advances that have helped increase human mobility 1000 fold just in the last 100 years.
But how far do we need to look out? How far do we need to be “Stretching our Horizon” as a technical society to really advance mobility engineering?
I would like to posit that today SAE should actively be visualizing the year 2050. What does this mean? It means thinking about how the aerospace and automotive industries will look like in the year 2050 – a year where the 25-30 year old engineer of today will still be in the industry, likely in a leadership role.
Arguably, both industries are in the midst of a revolutionary pace of change. By 2050 we will likely be driven more often than we drive ourselves. Whisper quiet electric powertrains will be more prevalent and vehicles will likely be a great deal lighter. Powering our cars, and our homes and our buildings may depend largely on common, sustainable energy sources. Space travel, and spaceports may be co-located with airports, and our children may regularly watch spacecraft take off, not just planes. The internet of things will connect us to degrees we cannot even imagine yet.
The technology inspired revolution is happening in parallel with changing social trends. Many prefer to share rather than own vehicles, or prefer on demand cars. A connected living and working society is emerging that enjoys urban living and is reshaping our cities. China has moved past the concept of mega cities and is building a “super city” of 120 million around Beijing that will be operational in a decade.
The traditional nation borders that have separated engineers in the past are going away. Professionals now expect to be able to talk with and learn from their colleagues from around the globe. Open innovation has thought competitors that we can collaboratively innovate without sacrificing the valuable industry secrets.
Today’s mobility engineering professionals view themselves as part of a global community – a group of innovative thinkers and idea-generators who aim to shatter conventional thinking and develop technologies that may seem impossible now. We as mobility engineering professionals must be ready for the change; we must be able to react when it happens and, more importantly, anticipate it before it occurs.
SAE International’s members and volunteers play an important part in that community. We are at the forefront of not only stretching the horizon of our industry, but of also creating it. Some of the most talented and pioneering engineering minds serve on SAE’s committees and task forces.
Throughout my tenure as President, I will engage our members and the entire mobility engineering professional through various social media outlets and platforms. I will share the success stories of our members and chronicle my travels throughout the year. You will be seeing and hearing more in the coming weeks.
I encourage all to engage with me and share your thoughts. It’s an exciting time to be a mobility engineer and together we will help to move our profession and SAE to help make “magic.” Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.