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Will Engineers become irrelevant?


Some years ago, to design the structure of a small high-rise office building, a structural engineer needed to do several and complex calculations that took a lot of time. Now with simple software and a couple of minutes, all the complex calculations are made and even more complex calculations, that otherwise were not carried on, are conducted nowadays. This evolution leads to a generalization of the most complex engineering calculations, which now can be carried on by a lot of people, even if they don’t know all the theories and methodologies behind the calculations that the software uses. If we look at the teams that work in each project, 30 years ago, for the same small high-rise building, a team of 10 people could seem small for the work involved. Now with all the tools available 3 or 4 people can easily carry on the job with success.

A computer can do a lot of things for us right now like scheduling our vacations, drive our car or even trace or psychological profile. The computer algorithms are year after year more efficient and able to do more things with applications in a variety of fields. Engineering services and consulting is definitely one of them.

According to the University of Oxford, which have conducted a list of probabilities for your occupation to be computerizable, Engineers are in the bottom part of their list with a very low probability of substitution by computers. Even with less probability than Engineers, we have the social workers, psychologists and dentists, to name a few. In the other extremity of the list, we have accountants, cooks and models. Despite the low probability of engineering being exchanged by a computer, they should look at what they are doing and how machines can help them.

The more Engineers will have computers working with them, more complex jobs they can do and more easily they can do things that were almost impossible a couple of decades ago. The less complex tasks require fewer skills to do, which also have some problems attached. At Slefty we believe that the Engineers role will change, and they must adapt to a new paradigm. Big software companies are pushing hard to reduce the number of work hours engineers spend on modeling and calculation so, at the limit, both tasks will no longer be performed by humans.  Let’s create new ways to extract the most of Engineers roles in close cooperation with machines.


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