What are the biggest challenges facing countries around the world, and what are the biggest obstacles to solving them? These two questions were at the heart of this year’s Global engineering survey, launched by DiscoverE in partnership with the World Federation of Engineering Organizations and UNESCO last fall. The survey asked engineers, engineering technologists, technicians to weigh in on key issues and trends affecting the engineering profession. Now, in celebration of World Engineering Day, they’ve shared the results.
The top five challenges, according to over 10,000 respondents from 119 countries, are securing cyberspace (19%), economical clean energy (18%), sustaining lands and oceans (16%), sustainable and resilient infrastructure (11%), and sustainable cities (9%). Responses were also broken down by country, which revealed some notable differences around the perceived importance of cybersecurity. In particular, respondents from the U.S. tended to rate this issue as more pressing, with 27 per cent placing it as the most urgent issue.
When asked what the main obstacles are in making progress in these areas, people felt that necessary support from government and policy makers is lacking (29.3%), necessary technologies have not yet been developed (13.3%), there is a lack of interdisciplinary collaboration and international cooperation (12.5%), and there is not enough public support for innovative engineering solutions (9.8%).
On a positive note, 18 to-24-year-old engineers, technicians, and technologists said that, with the right supports in place, they feel optimistic about being able to solve global challenges. Respondents of all demographics felt that space travel, artificial intelligence, and transportation will be the top areas to see science fiction-like advances—a future with service robots, solar-powered planes, and personal space travel.
The survey also focused on several questions around the number of engineers needed to address the most daunting global challenges. Nearly 52 per cent of those who replied felt that there is currently a shortage of engineers to address pressing problems. Slightly more, 54 per cent, felt that there will be a shortage of engineers in the future.
One clear answer that emerged in terms of how to address this shortage was volunteerism within the profession—paying it forward to future generations. A full 96 per cent of engineers said that volunteering with primary and secondary students to introduce them to engineering is important.
For more information on the survey, including media links and infographics, please visit DiscoverE’s 2020 Global Engineer Survey Results.