Welcome to Tech Trends 2022, The Engineer’s annual digital supplement where some of our key commercial partners offer insight and analysis on the technologies that will help shape the year ahead in engineering.
In last year’s edition, we joked that most of us were eagerly looking forward to consigning 2020 to the history books, expecting brighter days ahead for 2021. In reality, this year has also been a struggle for many, although mercifully the vaccine rollout has allowed some semblance of reality to return and the economy to ramp back up to a degree. But Covid continues to dictate the agenda in lots of ways, with labour shortages, supply chain issues, consumer confidence and inflation all posing challenges in engineering and beyond.
New variants notwithstanding, 2022 will hopefully see the fledgling recovery continue, though the challenges outlined above will not be solved overnight. Cautious optimism is the order of the day, and going by the contents of this special edition, there is still plenty to be optimistic about. Covid may have stunted and blunted many things, but innovation has - for the most part - continued to thrive in these testing times.
Unsurprisingly, much of that innovation is focused around the net zero challenge and the energy and mobility transitions that must accompany it. This year’s Tech Trends kicks off with Analog Devices’ view (p4) on automotive connectivity and the role it will play in tomorrow’s transport networks. Also touching on future mobility, Bosch provides its thoughts (p6) on the phenomenal growth being seen in the hydrogen economy, with a focus on both static and vehicle fuel cells.
Meeting the net zero challenge will also require an evolution in engineering competency, something that Dr Jacqueline Hall from skills body Enginuity takes a closer look at on page 10. And while developing new skills is essential, passing on existing skills across workforces is equally so, something that PTC is pioneering with emerging technologies like augmented reality (p12).
This type of digitalisation is a theme that touches virtually every corner of engineering and continues to underpin progress across the board. On page 8, COMSOL explains why simulation is a vital tool for testing the communications networks of tomorrow, while Jim Mangan of metrology specialist Sempre (p14) highlights the importance of automating and connecting the huge volumes of data being generated by industry today.
It’s a broad range of technology topics that should hopefully provide some clues as to the challenges and opportunities in the year ahead. We’d like to thank all of the organisations that have taken part in Tech Trends 2022 and we wish all our readers a happy and healthy festive season and the very best for the new year.