The role of engineering in making a better world has never been more important, with ‘solving the world’s problems’ set to become the industry’s top priority in the next 20 years. Breaking this down a little, more than three quarters of people think that engineering can improve renewable energy sources in this time frame. Additionally, 63% think engineers hold the key to sustainable agriculture and more than half think they can crack water scarcity around the world. While this might seem like a daunting task to most of us, it seems to be one the industry is taking in its stride.
In order to address the economic divide both within and between countries, development relies on energy. In driving development, however, it is essential that the energy we are using has less of an impact on the environment. Bob Dudley, Group CEO of BP said that resolving this paradox is “one of the great missions of this century”, requiring the “best brains” for the job.Speaking in 2015 as Chairman of Shell UK, Eric Bonino highlighted the responsibility of multinational companies such as Shell in leading the way for others. He said: “Engineers are the lifeblood of our company. One of the biggest challenges, for both society and companies like Shell, is how to provide much more energy and much less CO2. Solving challenges like this relies on the talent and skills of engineers.”
Takeshi Yokota, President & CEO, Toshiba of Europe Limited, also made the case last month for international corporations setting an example to industry. “Our future relies on those who continue to innovate,” he said. “Toshiba recognises that engineering provides the tools and solutions for tackling the biggest challenges in an increasingly complex world, by embracing new technologies.” He went on to add that the next generation of innovators can help us to realise a ‘smart’ society, where technology helps to make a “sustainable and human-friendly” world.
This month, we take a look at some the engineers whose innovations are leading us towards a smarter planet. First up, we meet a materials engineer whose recent trip to Uganda is helping give clean, safe drinking water to thousands. An expert in ceramics, Wirat Lerdprom of Imperial College, London has joined forces with SPOUTS of Water, a charity with a mission to provide potable water to all Ugandans.
We will also be ducking beneath the waves see how innovations in fishing tech can help save our seas. Dan Watson of SafetyNet technologies explains how his simple idea, combined with a little engineering know-how and a lot of hard work, is reducing overfishing in oceans across the world.
Next on the agenda is QEPrize Ambassador, Laura Fitzmaurice, sharing her views on engineering from the world of renewable energy. A mechanical engineer by trade, Laura is involved with the design and installation of giant multi-megawatt turbines, generating clean, green energy from wind.
Finally, we find out how the construction industry can save itself millions in waste disposal costs with Enterprise Fellow Dr Sam Chapman’s innovative recycled bricks. With more than 90% of KENOTEQ’s brick made from recycled materials, building cities no longer has to cost us the earth.