The Engineer of 2020
[The National Academies Press]
The Engineer of 2020 is the product of an initiative by the US National Academy of Engineering to look 15 years into the future of technology and those who work with it.
The book begins with a review of likely technological changes and challenges before moving on to the societal, geopolitical and professional contexts engineers may find themselves working in.
Later it attempts to define what attributes an engineer may need in 15 years’ time to meet these issues head on. These include strong analytical skills, creativity, ingenuity, professionalism and leadership, inevitably prompting the reader to ask ‘so what’s new?’
Its final two chapters express optimism for the future of engineering if the challenges it highlights are addressed early.
The ‘war on terror’ seems to exert an inordinate influence on any attempt at futurology, however. References to ‘world division by growth of religious fundamentalism’, ‘the threat of terrorism throughout the world’ and ‘issues relating to terrorism’ within two pages seem excessive.
Reviewed by Christopher Sell.