What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

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ahazaq2
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What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby ahazaq2 » Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:08 pm UTC

I was thinking about this yesterday. At first we had the core engineering disciplines, like mechanical and chemical and electrical, and then along the line we got computer and software engineering. Then further on along the line we got biological and biomedical engineering.

You know, I'm not sure whether computer or biological came first. But whatever.

What do you guys think will be the next "type" of engineering?

I know this is...kind of a frivolous question, but I'm curious.

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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby SlyReaper » Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:38 pm UTC

Voodoo engineering.
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby nehpest » Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:39 pm UTC

One easy definition of engineering is just "applied science". If you look at the practice of each of the engineering disciplines you cited, they tend to follow in short order after the formalized study of the relevant scientific discipline, if they don't develop simultaneously. So, we can look at cutting-edge sciences today to get an idea of what might become the next major engineering discipline.

For my part, I think nanotechnology engineering will be the next discipline to gain widespread popularity. It's been a very fashionable branch of physics for the last few decades, and there seem to be a lot of interesting applications coming out of it. These are good signs.
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby Link » Sun Nov 07, 2010 7:03 pm UTC

It's hard to say what will be the next form, but here are some interesting possibilities:
  • Environmental engineering, geoengineering and terraforming
  • Quantum engineering (setting up reliable quantum states, and manipulating them)
  • A more fundamental form of bioengineering, concerning the actual construction of (purely) artificial life
  • Psychological engineering (preparing humans for specific, hard-to-bear circumstances such as extended space habitation)
  • Metamaterials engineering (creating really unusual materials)
  • Nanoengineering (as mentioned above)
And some even more exotic ones, most likely to be nothing more than science fiction for the next few centuries:
  • Asteroid and planetary engineering (moving, creating, destroying or otherwise manipulating objects the size of minor or major planets)
  • Gravitational engineering (use of the above to create gravity assist paths, extracting work from gravitational interaction, using gravitational waves as a means of communication...)
  • Stellar engineering (manipulating stars, creating artificial stars)
  • Yo momma engineering (manipulating objects of more-than-stellar mass, and/or objects with an event horizon)

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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby torontoraptor » Sun Nov 07, 2010 8:03 pm UTC

Link wrote:It's hard to say what will be the next form, but here are some interesting possibilities:
  • Environmental engineering, geoengineering and terraforming
  • Quantum engineering (setting up reliable quantum states, and manipulating them)
  • A more fundamental form of bioengineering, concerning the actual construction of (purely) artificial life
  • Psychological engineering (preparing humans for specific, hard-to-bear circumstances such as extended space habitation)
  • Metamaterials engineering (creating really unusual materials)
  • Nanoengineering (as mentioned above)
And some even more exotic ones, most likely to be nothing more than science fiction for the next few centuries:
  • Asteroid and planetary engineering (moving, creating, destroying or otherwise manipulating objects the size of minor or major planets)
  • Gravitational engineering (use of the above to create gravity assist paths, extracting work from gravitational interaction, using gravitational waves as a means of communication...)
  • Stellar engineering (manipulating stars, creating artificial stars)
  • Yo momma engineering (manipulating objects of more-than-stellar mass, and/or objects with an event horizon)



Bolded already exist, one of my housemates is studying to be a computer engineer with a minor in physics, he plans to focus on quantum computing. The future is here, and it looks pretty awesome :)
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby KrO2 » Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:06 pm UTC

I'm hoping for really cool ones like "cosmological engineering" to mess with the physical constants of the Universe. Because that would be amazing. Or even "mathematical engineering," which could eventually lead to the development of a Bistromathic Drive.

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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby SlyReaper » Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:09 pm UTC

Or Probability Engineering to build the Heart of Gold.
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:10 pm UTC

gbagcn2?
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby Link » Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:42 pm UTC

torontoraptor wrote:Bolded already exist

True, but there's so much in those areas yet to be explored that I included them anyway.

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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby sikyon » Sun Nov 07, 2010 11:17 pm UTC

I am in a nanotechnology engineering program - it is not really engineering with one exception.

First of all, what is engineering? Fundamentally engineering is applied science. You take a core set of knowledge and turn it into solutions for existing problems.

Nanotech engineering is not there yet, except in the semiconductor industry. The science, let alone standards of its application are not rigorous elsewhere. You need a concrete set of rules to solve problems for something to become a mature engineering field. So really, your question boils down to "what branch of science will we rigorously and certainly understand next?"

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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby wst » Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:55 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:gbagcn2?
Seems like them again, but this is an interesting question. For such a useless poster, they do spark interesting debates.

Metamaterial engineering seems like it would be a subset of nanoengineering, at the scales current metamaterials seem to be built at. Meanwhile, nanoengineering seems to be fairly widespread already, going by the processes used to produce computer components (CPUs, etc).

I feel that the next 'big' engineering will be the one that will give the most benefits to aviation and motor vehicles generally. Improving the efficiency of existing designs until something else revolutionary comes along that takes off properly... Something like that would receive a lot more funding (from companies selling products based on this new tech), so really... whichever can fit into everyone's life the most seamlessly. Invisible technology.
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby Solt » Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:01 am UTC

Claiming that bio-engineering already exists is a serious disservice to the potential of the field. For now it's basically implanting devices and building stuff to assist medicine. Real bio-engineering will involve crafting bacteria to carry out chemical or assembly processes of importance, viruses to carry out gene therapy, and improving/repairing the genome to extend life, increase intelligence, and otherwise improve our health. Eventually we will be creating the perfect house plant, the perfect edible fish, the perfect pet, etc. Bio is the future.
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby jmorgan3 » Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:32 am UTC

wst wrote:I feel that the next 'big' engineering will be the one that will give the most benefits to aviation and motor vehicles generally. Improving the efficiency of existing designs until something else revolutionary comes along that takes off properly... Something like that would receive a lot more funding (from companies selling products based on this new tech), so really... whichever can fit into everyone's life the most seamlessly. Invisible technology.

If I'm understanding you correctly, you're just talking about evolutionary improvements in Aerospace and automotive engineering, which are pretty well-established fields.

Solt wrote:Claiming that bio-engineering already exists is a serious disservice to the potential of the field. For now it's basically implanting devices and building stuff to assist medicine.

That's bio-medical engineering.

Solt wrote:Real bio-engineering will involve crafting bacteria to carry out chemical or assembly processes of importance, viruses to carry out gene therapy, and improving/repairing the genome to extend life, increase intelligence, and otherwise improve our health. Eventually we will be creating the perfect house plant, the perfect edible fish, the perfect pet, etc. Bio is the future.

We can do a lot of that already. We can also make organisms' genomes from scratch.
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby Solt » Mon Nov 08, 2010 6:02 am UTC

jmorgan3 wrote:
Solt wrote:Claiming that bio-engineering already exists is a serious disservice to the potential of the field. For now it's basically implanting devices and building stuff to assist medicine.

That's bio-medical engineering.

The point was bio-engineering doesn't exist, as OP claimed.

Solt wrote:Real bio-engineering will involve crafting bacteria to carry out chemical or assembly processes of importance, viruses to carry out gene therapy, and improving/repairing the genome to extend life, increase intelligence, and otherwise improve our health. Eventually we will be creating the perfect house plant, the perfect edible fish, the perfect pet, etc. Bio is the future.

We can do a lot of that already. We can also make organisms' genomes from scratch.


Yes we can, which is where I got the idea. But there is historically a very sharp line between science/math and engineering. This kind of genetic tomfoolery is not ready for prime time, and for now is restricted to the laboratory and a few specialized applications such as manufacturing certain drugs and modifying limited parts of plant and animal genomes. I'm talking about the day when someone can go "I need a bacterial strain that will manufacture my MEMS sensor that detects chemical xy-19 in production quantity, here is the schematic." and then call up the bacteria-engineer and gets a vial of the stuff in the mail 2 weeks later.
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produced a more reliable product. But sailors do

not float on theory, and the welded tankers had a

most annoying habit of splitting in two."

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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby jmorgan3 » Mon Nov 08, 2010 6:35 am UTC

Saying an entire field doesn't exist because it isn't at some arbitrary level of achievement makes no sense to me, especially when that level of achievement is not in at least the near future. Someone in 1910 might just as easily have said "Aeronautical Engineering won't really be a type of engineering until airplanes are cheap enough for everyone to commute to work in them." In contrast, I would say that Aeronautical Engineering as a field existed even before the Wright Brothers' flight, before anything practical had actually been made. Engineering isn't a result, it's a process that uses science to design and build things, even if those things don't seem impressive to you.

Right now, there are bioengineers, working at bioengineering companies and in bioengineering departments doing bioengineering. If the field doesn't exist, who are these people and what are they doing?
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby wst » Mon Nov 08, 2010 7:26 am UTC

jmorgan3 wrote:
wst wrote:I feel that the next 'big' engineering will be the one that will give the most benefits to aviation and motor vehicles generally. Improving the efficiency of existing designs until something else revolutionary comes along that takes off properly... Something like that would receive a lot more funding (from companies selling products based on this new tech), so really... whichever can fit into everyone's life the most seamlessly. Invisible technology.

If I'm understanding you correctly, you're just talking about evolutionary improvements in Aerospace and automotive engineering, which are pretty well-established fields.
Yeeees, but improvements generated more by work in fields not directly involved in aerospace. Fuckit, whoops, cocked that up. Disregard it a bit. I got a bit sidetracked from my point when writing that at some godawful time of morning. What I ended up meaning to say was more that "whichever 'new engineering' can hide in everyone's lives the best will be the one I'd bank on being the next big thing."
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby Bluggo » Mon Nov 08, 2010 10:05 am UTC

Neuroengineering already exists, but I think that it will definitely be the Next Big Thing.
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby Moose Hole » Mon Nov 08, 2010 9:10 pm UTC

People keep telling me about social engineering. I don't think there's such a thing as social science so it probably doesn't actually exist. By the way the original engineering was military engineering, followed by civil engineering.

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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby nehpest » Mon Nov 08, 2010 9:37 pm UTC

Moose Hole wrote:People keep telling me about social engineering. I don't think there's such a thing as social science so it probably doesn't actually exist. By the way the original engineering was military engineering, followed by civil engineering.


Tangential, perhaps, but your comment got me wondering: what is the difference between nascent civil engineering, and nascent architecture. For example, the great pyramids, the Parthenon, &c. - are these examples of engineering, or of architecture?
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby BlackSails » Mon Nov 08, 2010 10:50 pm UTC

nehpest wrote:
Moose Hole wrote:People keep telling me about social engineering. I don't think there's such a thing as social science so it probably doesn't actually exist. By the way the original engineering was military engineering, followed by civil engineering.


Tangential, perhaps, but your comment got me wondering: what is the difference between nascent civil engineering, and nascent architecture. For example, the great pyramids, the Parthenon, &c. - are these examples of engineering, or of architecture?


Both.

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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby Splad » Tue Nov 09, 2010 7:48 am UTC

"retro-causal engineering" i am coining that term right now and you all better remember that it was said by someone named "splad" on the interwebs first!

retro-causal engineering
- the branch of engineering which deals with the design and study of systems capable of reverse-causal actions. for example, if a quantum computer could produce results in the present by somehow reading its state in the future, then a quantum computer programmer could be called a retro-causal engineer.

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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Nov 09, 2010 12:12 pm UTC

Moose Hole wrote: I don't think there's such a thing as social science

Social scientists are going to be mighty surprised when they go to work tomorrow.

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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby iroZn » Thu Nov 11, 2010 1:53 pm UTC

I am currently doing an undergraduate degree called Mechatronics Engineering. It seems to me that the best description of us is "we uh... build robots and stuff... think 'Megatron'... "

From what I've heard the first mechatronics course was offered in Colombia and has been spreading from there.
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby SlyReaper » Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:45 pm UTC

It would sound far less silly just being called "electrical and mechanical engineering".
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby Moose Hole » Thu Nov 11, 2010 3:37 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:It would sound far less silly just being called "electrical and mechanical engineering".
"think 'Electrical and mechanitron'" sounds far more silly.

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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby SlyReaper » Thu Nov 11, 2010 4:05 pm UTC

I just have a horror of unnecessary portmaneaus. Even the word portmaneau makes me squirm.
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Re: What do you think the next type of engineering will be?

Postby Moose Hole » Thu Nov 11, 2010 5:15 pm UTC

Portmanteau Engineering.

/or maybe Portmangineering


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