Cyber security and environmental issues are the biggest challenges facing engineers over the next 25 years, a survey has revealed.
The Global Engineer survey results, released on the first UNESCO World Engineering Day (March 4) show that one in five engineers believe securing cyberspace is the most daunting challenge.
Sustaining land and oceans, creating clean energy and providing clean water and sanitation were counted as the other most significant global tasks.
Young people remained optimistic, however one in three survey respondents thought a lack of government support would slow efforts to solve these problems.
Engineers are the worlds problem solvers but are often overlooked when considering solutions to major challenges like climate change, digitalisation and food security says Professor Gong Ke, president of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations.
“Today is an opportunity to celebrate engineering and its vital role in delivering sustainable development worldwide, and champion the next generation of innovators.”
Engineers rated their optimism about solving global problems at 62 out of 100, naming transportation, AI and space travel as the top three innovations turning science-fiction into reality.
The survey, commissioned by engineering outreach organisation DiscoverE, found the most optimistic engineers across the globe were from China, while women were more likely than men to see cyber security as the biggest challenge. Kenyan engineers responded that access to clean water and sanitation was the most daunting challenge.
More than half the respondents believed that there is a shortage of engineers across the industry globally.
DiscoverE executive director Kathy Renzetti says the findings are reason for both optimism and caution.
“Young engineers possess an irrepressible can-do spirit and a readiness to take on the world’s toughest challenges. But as the overwhelming majority of survey participants make clear, the next generation can’t do it alone.
“Solving the world’s problems is an enormous collaborative undertaking involving both the public and private sectors and extending across disciplines, borders and demographics.”
World Engineering Day aims to recognise engineers’ contributions to UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Although there is a lack of engineers, especially young women, the impact engineering has on achieving Sustainable Development Goals is not celebrated enough says Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, assistant director-general for natural sciences at UNESCO.
“The aim of this day is to increase the visibility of engineering and its role in sustainable development, to encourage students to study engineering or pursue engineering studies and to share success stories in engineering.”