There are many kinds of engineers. Some create things that are so small they can only be seen with microscopes. Some make things we use with our hands every day such as mobile phones and laptops. Others build big — designing cars, planes and skyscrapers!
Engineers have the skills to turn products of the imagination into real-world innovation. As humanity’s knowledge and needs increase, the demands on engineering grow. This means the future will be full of new opportunities for engineers.
Inventing tools and technology for the betterment of humanity is a special task. Learn what the future holds for engineers — and the world — by exploring the tiles below.
Where ideas take flight
Aeronautical Engineers focus on the design and development of aircraft and flight systems. They are the terrestrial branch of aerospace engineering while astronautical engineering is the non-terrestrial branch (see Space Engineering below).
Aeronautical Engineers build:
- Aircraft like planes and helicopters
- Propulsion systems such as jet engines and rockets
- Avionics systems that help aircraft function
- Simulations to train pilots of all types.
The future of Aeronautical Engineering includes:
- Faster planes that run on new types of fuel
- New propulsion systems that make flying cheaper and safer
- Technology that allows for streamlined vertical takeoff and landing.
As an Aeronautical Engineer you will help people travel in safety and comfort. You’ll also have opportunities to work in defence, keeping Australia’s skies clear of danger.
Harvesting the future
Agricultural Engineers improve the technology and processes that supply us with our food. Their inventions affect how crops are grown, harvested and stored. They’re involved in every stage of the farming process including managing long-term effects on climate, soil health and waste recycling.
Some interesting facts about Agricultural Engineering:
- Biology and engineering overlap for Genetic Engineers, who must combine the mindset of an engineer with knowledge of microbiology, biochemistry and biophysics. They use specialised tools created by teams of highly skilled engineers to do their work.
- Chemical Engineers create compounds that nourish or protect crops.
- Mechanical Engineers design and build equipment to harvest and process food.
- Environmental Engineers ensure that soil, water and land use is managed with sustainability in mind.
- Mechatronics Engineers will create autonomous machines to harvest crops with precision at ideal times.
- Horizontal storage facilities could be replaced with vertical ‘smart structures’ that process food.
- Energy use will be more efficient and waste will be recycled in new ways.
Engineers have streamlined agriculture, brought urban farming to our cities and are working hard to ensure the world has a sustainable food supply. Do you want to play a role in feeding the world? Study engineering and join those who make farming high tech and ultra-efficient!
Building health and happiness
Biomedical Engineers bridge two important fields: engineering and medicine. Their creations are used at all stages of the healthcare process. They design and build diagnostic tools used to understand the problems patients have, monitor important health metrics and help practitioners with therapeutics.
We can thank Biomedical Engineers for:
- Research equipment used to study ailments and find cures
- X-ray and CAT scan machines that let doctors see inside the human body
- Equipment and implants that improve the lives of the disabled.
- Improved imaging techniques for faster diagnosis of illnesses
- Refined bionic implants that are more accessible to all who need them
- An even better understanding of the human body.
As a Biomedical Engineer you will empower people who improve and save lives. You will create the tools used by scientists and doctors to cure the afflictions of humankind. Together with top researchers and surgeons you will build a healthier, happier future.
Chemical Engineers combine scientific knowledge of chemistry, physics and microbiology with an engineering mind frame and skill set. They ensure chemicals are properly produced, utilised and recycled. Some Chemical Engineers also work to create new chemical compositions and materials.
Chemical Engineers work in many industries, including:
- Healthcare and medicine
- Waste management
- Food production.
In the future, Chemical Engineers will help create:
- More efficient systems for fuel development
- Artificial blood
- Powerful medicine
- The next generation of plastics and biodegradable chemical-based materials.
As a Chemical Engineer you will help design and create things that will fuel a better future. Many industries will be open to you and you will apply your knowledge in ways that suit your interests and goals.
Growing our cities
Civil Engineers build the world’s cities. They work with architects, construction companies and scientists to ensure that we live and work in safe, efficient and sustainable environments.
Civil Engineers take care of:
- The structures we rely on, from small buildings to skyscrapers
- Roads and bridges
- Systems for water, gas, electricity and telecommunications.
Future Civil Engineering projects will:
- make even larger skyscrapers possible, allowing many people to collaborate and work in a single place
- allow for new modes of transportation to be implemented
- make recycling waste and using resources such as water and electricity more efficient
- cater to new technologies such as self-driving cars.
As a Civil Engineer, you will guide the growth of the town or city you choose to live and work in. You may see new types of trains connecting people like never before, or help transition from petrol to electric vehicles.
Electrical Engineers utilise knowledge of electricity and electromagnetism to design and build all manner of electric and electronic devices. Many specialities are open to electrical engineers, as the discipline encompasses all stages of power consumption.
Electrical Engineers help build:
- Power plants and new technology for harnessing and distributing power
- Telecommunications platforms and delivery systems
- Power and lighting for houses, offices and municipal buildings
- Electronic components of computers and other tools (see electronics engineer below).
In the future, Electrical Engineering will provide:
- Faster and more efficient wireless charging systems
- New types of electric cars
- The next generation of solar technology for a greener power system.
As an Electrical Engineer you will help power the world. You will work with other engineers to make all the things modern life requires faster, smaller and better for the environment.
Gadgets, gizmos and great ideas
An Electronics Engineer creates the hardware found inside of computers, gaming consoles, mobile phones and many other devices. Electronics is the foundation of modern technology. The engineers who design and build electronic components ensure our daily lives run smoothly.
Things Electronics Engineers make possible:
- Circuit design for modern tools and appliances
- Functionality of important mechanical engineering projects such as those for healthcare
- High-end software that need more computing power to run properly.
Future electronic innovation:
- Shrinking headsets and glasses for virtual reality and augmented reality
- Making the Internet even faster
- Creating super-fast quantum computers.
As an Electronics Engineer you will work with product designers or craft your own inventions. With the help of collaborators, such as software and mechatronics engineers, you will create and maintain the tools of the future.
Building a better world
Environmental Engineers protect both people and the environment. They build solutions to problems related to resource and waste management such as water treatment, C02 emissions and air pollution. When structures and infrastructure are designed, Environmental Engineers assess their impact and add to the process accordingly.
Environmental Engineers conserve resources by:
- Planning where to harvest solar energy most efficiently
- Assessing the impact of wind energy harvesting on the environment to place wind farms in the best place
- Desalinating and processing water with efficacy and creating wastewater treatment plans.
Future projects for Environmental Engineers:
- Offsetting carbon emissions to counteract damage to the environment
- Creating new methods for mining and drilling of resources that have far less impact on the environment
- Ecosystem management for expanding cities and suburban zones
- Assisting other branches of engineering with the management of conditions brought about by climate change.
As an Environmental Engineer you will ensure the safety of people, animals, plants and the environment. New, better methods of supplying Australia with the things people need – water, food and ways to manage waste – will come from the minds and creations of Environmental Engineers.
Mastering methods and marvels
Industrial Engineers apply engineering skills to the management of complex systems. Their job is to make the use of resources such as time, industrial materials, and money optimised.
An Industrial Engineer is responsible for:
- Research leading to expertise of complex systems with a view to improve them
- Quality assurance and control of business practices and processes
- Workplace safety and wellness.
In the future, Industrial Engineers will:
- Manage the transition from large fabrication machines to smaller 3D printing oriented solutions
- Decide which tasks in a factory should be automated with robotics and mechatronics and which should remain human-powered
- Be at the forefront of entirely new industries as technology and capability advances.
As an Industrial Engineer you will apply engineering skills to businesses. You will view the production and distribution facilities and operations of a business much like a Mechanical Engineer views an engine; you will be a master of improvement in a rapidly changing future.
Deep insights and fluid thinking
Marine Engineers design and build ships and structures that allow us to travel, explore and gain resources from the world’s oceans.
Marine Engineering includes:
- Making ships work, from propulsion and steering to functionality such as ventilation, heating and power
- Creating floating structures such as oil rigs
- Building manned and unmanned submarine vessels for deep sea exploration.
The future of Marine Engineering includes:
- Building structures that float and generating energy from ocean waves
- Designing ships that cause less pollution
- Working with mechatronics and Environmental Engineers to create machines that can rid our oceans of plastic waste
- Building new types of submarines and probes to explore the deepest parts of the ocean.
As a Marine Engineer you will help make future advancements that both protect and harness the power of the ocean. You will create tools for exploring the final terrestrial frontier, the ocean. Humanity has seen a mere 5% of it. You can help uncover the secrets of the remaining 95%.
Surface with purpose
Materials Engineers combine engineering with scientific knowledge to produce and enhance special materials. Chemistry, physics, electronics and other areas of knowledge are all valuable for those seeking methods for creating strong and efficient materials.
A few exciting recent advances in materials include:
- Improving carbon fibre creation, allowing it to be used as a strong, lightweight material in sports equipment, bicycles, tools and musical instruments
- The development of plant based fibres that can be cured and hardened as a sustainable replacement for wood
- The development of ultra lightweight materials such as aerogels and metal foams
- The emergence of tissue engineering and biomaterial design.
In the future, Materials Engineers will create:
- Lightweight materials used in the construction of spacecraft and space stations
- Metals that are light yet ultra strong for all manner of mechanical applications
- New materials for efficient storage of energy and information.
As a Materials Engineer you will help shape the future by creating the next generation of ‘smart substances’. When humans can survive in deeper space, generate power just from walking down the street and survive strong impacts with lightweight body army it will be due to the work of Materials Engineers.
Industry, interest and infinite possibilities
Mechanical Engineers are responsible for designing and building mechanical systems and machines of all types. They build tools and equipment that make the world run. Modern lifestyles depend on the continued achievements of Mechanical Engineers.
Mechanical Engineers create:
- Manufacturing facilities that house large machines to serve many industries
- Transport systems such as cars, trains, ships and aircraft
- Specialised tools and equipment for both personal use and important fields such as healthcare.
The mechanics of the future include:
- Perfecting forms of travel such as high speed rail and vertical takeoff/landing aircraft
- Robotics created by Mechanical Engineers specialising in mechatronics (see below)
- Machines that harness the power of the tides
- Highly specialised tools that are compact and efficient for applications ranging from art to medicine and beyond, to experiments done in space.
As a Mechanical Engineer you will choose how to innovate – big or small, human-powered or AI-driven. The machines that make the future a better place will be created by your hands.
Our robotic reality
A Mechatronics Engineer uses skills in both electronic and mechanical engineering alongside Software Engineers and other specialists to create machines capable of performing complex tasks. When you think of a future where drones deliver your pizza by air and cars drive themselves you’re imagining the work of Mechatronics Engineering.
Mechatronics Engineers are interested in:
- Mechanics and robotics
- Computerised systems and automation
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Mimicking natural systems.
In the future, Mechantronics Engineers will:
- Design and build robots that help humans in all areas of life
- Provide Australia’s workforce with more free time due to increased automation of tasks
- Help keep our cities clean with small, autonomous waste management machines.
As a Mechatronics Engineer you will develop the systems that usher in a new age of humanity. Dreams of the future become possibilities of the now when engineers take ideas from science fiction to science fact.
It’s the little things that count
A nanometre is one billionth of a metre and Nano-Engineers design and build on this incredibly small scale. They work in many fields and as tools for their discipline become more refined their reach will become even wider.
Nano-Engineering deals with creating technology for:
- Advanced microscopy and imaging techniques that help scientists gain a better understanding of biology, chemistry and physics
- DNA synthesis
- The creation of advanced materials
- Increased energy efficiency for heating and cooling systems, batteries and more.
In the future, nanotechnology could:
- Be the basis for advanced medicine and treatments
- Allow for the creation of complex hardware for advanced mechatronics applications.
- Go even smaller! The principles of working at the nano scale will be applied to working at pico (atomic) and femto (subatomic) scales.
As a Nano-Engineer you will create solutions that won’t be seen but will be valued by the industries you choose to work in. With nano-tech, we take incredibly small steps towards a boundless future.
The mind of the machine
Software Engineers connect two areas of practice that are crucial for technological advancement: engineering and computer programming. By utilising the principles of an engineer with coding skills, Software Engineers gain a deep theoretical knowledge of computer systems that enables them to learn current tools and practices with ease.
Software Engineers are responsible for:
- The creation of complex computer programs that make modern life convenient and connected
- The design and implementation of firmware for everything from mobile phones and cash registers to the computers in cars and aeroplanes
- Pushing the boundaries of computation and driving hardware demands that lead to increased capability and productivity for computer users.
The future of software includes:
- Programs that use historical data and real-time climatic analysis to more accurately predict weather patterns
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems that will help people find information, complete tasks and even solve complex problems that humans cannot
- The creation of intricate virtual environments where people won’t only play games but will also work, research and more.
As a Software Engineer you will do more than code, you will create the systems that define the future of communication, industry and entertainment.
Build beyond the sky
Space Engineering requires the skills of many different types of engineers. That’s because the machines built for outer space – satellites, space stations, shuttles and rockets – need fuel, special materials, and more.
Space Engineering facts:
- There are many differences between earth and space to consider such as: extreme temperatures, radiation, microgravity and the vacuum of space.
- Astronauts don’t just rely on engineers, they often are engineers!
- Satellites used for communication, media and defence are products of Space Engineering.
A star-bright future for Space Engineers:
- Companies such as Space X are privatising the ‘space industry’ and hope to get humans to Mars by 2020.
- Fabricating tools in space will allow for machines to be built that could never be built elsewhere due to gravity.
- Imaging will be further refined, allowing us to see deeper into space.
- Tools used in space for research will provide insights into the nature of the universe.
As a Space Engineer you will help explore our solar system and beyond, launch equipment for new services and technology and study our planet in new ways. The future is as vast as outer space for those who choose to work in Space Engineering.