What does the future hold?

What are the emerging trends in the building engineering field? Tell us what you're seeing.

By Amara Rozgus, CFE Media March 27, 2017

Though the quote, “Everything that can be invented has been invented,” is attributed to many different sources, no one truly knows who said it. Some say a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office commissioner said it in 1899; others say it was a joking clerk who said it at about the same time. Other data shows that there is no reference to the quote before 1980. Any way you look at it, the phrase is quite wrong and is amusing to think about.

Engineers deal with changing technology every day. For example, are you using your smartphone or tablet to read this right now? When was the last time you sketched out a design using pencil and paper? What new software system is your company encouraging all engineers to use to track a project? And did you really just order your take-out dinner for a late night at the office by speaking to a phone or other device? Technological change is happening all around us.

Trends that we’re watching in the building engineering field include:

  • Integrating systems, like lighting with HVAC 
  • Codes and standards across the board, which are always evolving 
  • ASHRAE 135, which focuses on building automation and control networks 
  • New technologies and products.

Manufacturers are keeping their research and development and engineering teams busy by developing the latest and greatest new products. While some of them may be only incremental upgrades, many are dramatic shifts, giving consulting engineers new systems to offer their clients.

Here’s an open invitation: I invite you to tell me what trends you’re seeing, and how the future of engineering will change. Will everyone be replaced by robots? Will product manufacturers drive the market in a different direction with web-based technology? Will independent consultants cease to exist, driven by construction firms that bring these disciplines in-house? Share your thoughts on future trends; send me a note at arozgus@cfemedia.com

Amara Rozgus is editor-in-chief, Consulting-Specifying Engineer.