A disruptive technology could change mechanical engineering forever? That’s just another Wednesday.
Every year new trends push the boundaries of mechanical engineering, and 2023 will be no different. Still in their infancy, technologies like artificial intelligence and 3D printing are developing at a rapid pace and soon won’t so much be considered trends as critical areas of the industry.
We’ve compiled this list of 2023 mechanical engineering trends to help you stay up to date in this ever-changing and competitive industry. Stick around until the end if you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into the trends and technologies impacting your career.
- Going Green with Electric Vehicles
As global temperatures rise, automakers are under growing pressure to add electric vehicles to their lineups. California recently approved the Advanced Clean Cars II rule, requiring that all new cars and light trucks sold in the state be electric or hydrogen-powered by 2035. New York has since adopted California’s ban on sales of new gas-powered vehicles, a requirement which will also go into effect in 2035, and more states are expected to follow suit.
Automakers will rely on mechanical engineers, already essential in the automotive industry, to help them transition from internal combustion engines to electric motors — not to mention all the work that’ll be needed to convert automotive assembly plants to produce electric vehicles.
A Magnetic Breakthrough
The University of Texas at Austin’s Yu Research Group might have a solution for two of the biggest problems facing electric vehicles: limited driving range and slow charging. Using a magnetic field to manipulate stacks of nanosheets, researchers fabricated a new type of vertical electrode for lithium-ion batteries that could double the driving range of electric vehicles. The team also created a horizontal electrode capable of recharging to 50% in only 30 minutes. Although in its early stages, the team’s research is nonetheless promising for the future of electric vehicles.
- Giving Customers What They Want with 3D Printing
For years, industry professionals have talked about the potential and benefits of additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing. (One of the first forms of 3D printing was created by our very own Dr. Joseph Beaman and his then-graduate student Carl Deckard in 1986.) 3D printing has since advanced to the point where it can deliver on its promise to revolutionize manufacturing.
Valued at $13.84 billion in 2021, the global 3D printing market is expected to grow to over $50 billion by 2028. One of the key factors driving growth is the rising demand for mass customization, which will allow for personalized products, such as made-to-order and custom-fitted shoes. 3D printing also requires less energy and fewer resources than traditional manufacturing, and with the release of renewable materials, companies will face increased pressure to adopt this sustainable manufacturing method.
- Running Simulations on Digital Twins
A digital twin is a virtual model of a real-world object. For example, a jet engine (our physical twin) outfitted with various sensors relays real-time data to a processing system to be applied to its digital twin. With our digital twin, we can monitor performance and achieve peak efficiency. We can even run simulations on our jet engine’s digital twin to glean insights that’ll help us refine our designs.
Already used throughout the automotive, construction, healthcare and manufacturing industries, digital twins could see a big push in 2023 as cloud providers like Microsoft offer expanded capabilities.
- Handing the Reins to Artificial Intelligence (AI)
A 2019 Deloitte survey on AI adoption in manufacturing revealed that 83% of companies think AI makes a visible impact, with over half thinking that AI projects will bring value to their companies in 2-5 years. 2023 could be their year.
AI is proving to be a one-two punch for manufacturing. AI-powered robots are taking over dangerous, repetitive tasks in warehouses while AI systems handle clerical chores in offices, freeing up mechanical engineers to apply their expertise to more complex challenges.
AI will drive industry growth over the course of not only the next year but the next decade. As the designers behind automation machinery, mechanical engineers will be in high demand so long as they can keep up with this disruptive technology.
- Revolutionizing Manufacturing with Wireless Connectivity
The muscle behind AI, “big data” enables manufacturers to optimize supply chains, perform predictive maintenance and improve operational efficiency. Collecting, storing and analyzing vast amounts of data hasn’t always been easy, but that could all change with the advent of the internet of things (IoT) and 5G networks.
Wireless connectivity could usher in a new era of smart factories, where sensors connect every piece of machinery to the cloud. Factories run exclusively by smart technology remain an aspirational concept for engineers, but smart manufacturing powered by big data and supported by IoT and 5G is already creating ripples throughout the industry.
Keep Up with the Latest Mechanical Engineering Trends
Mechanical engineering has always been an interdisciplinary field, demanding that professionals have a firm grasp on a variety of subjects like thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and materials science. But the mechanical engineering trends we’re seeing are pushing the boundaries of the industry, and professionals are under pressure to upskill and help usher in this new era.
The University of Texas at Austin offers two 100% online mechanical engineering programs that will help you remain at the forefront of this evolving industry: the Executive Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and the Mechanical Engineering Controls Graduate Certificate. Courses are updated regularly in response to industry trends and encompass the same curriculum taught on campus. As a Texas Engineer, you’ll learn to utilize emerging technology to solve engineering problems, all while developing the abilities essential to becoming an industry leader and innovator.
Ready for what comes next? Check out our 100% online programs and apply to your program of choice to prepare yourself for the next era of mechanical engineering.