Engineering Training Courses on Sustainable Development
Sustainability is a core principle of the professional engineer's code of ethics.
Professional engineers must, "hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public and the protection of the environment". Engineers must provide sustainable solutions that adhere to the basic pillars of sustainability (human, environmental, social and economic).
Engineering associations across North America have issued sustainability guidelines requiring their members to integrate sustainability into their practices.
These guidelines require that engineers maintain a current knowledge of sustainable development and integrate sustainability into their practices. Throughout a project life-cycle, engineers must assess the direct and indirect human, environmental, social and economic impacts of their designs. They must strive to identify new opportunities for obtaining more sustainable results.
10 Things All Engineers Should Know About Sustainable Development
What is sustainable development? What are Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and what do they have to do with engineering? We've summarized the top things you should know about sustainable development in the table below.
What is Sustainable Development?
Sustainable development is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
It was defined by the United Nations in 1987.
What are Sustainable Development Goals?
In 2015, the United Nations adopted the "2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development." In it, they outlined 17 goals to achieve by 2030 to ensure a sustainable future for all. These 17 SDGs define a global blueprint to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change.
6 out of 17 SDGs are directly related to engineering.
They address water treatment, renewable energy, industry and infrastructure, sustainable cities, energy efficiency, and emissions.
SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
Clean, accessible water is a fundamental human right. Despite this, millions of people die every year from waterborne diseases, water scarcity and poor sanitation. More than 80% of wastewater released into the environment is untreated.
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
Energy is essential to all human activity. Innovations in energy efficiency and renewable energy are crucial to tackling pressing issues like climate change. Today, the energy sector accounts for about 60% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy technologies will play a fundamental role in the fight against climate change.
SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
Innovations in transportation, irrigation, energy distribution and communication lay the foundation for achieving sustainable development and empowering communities worldwide. Expanding industry leads to prosperity as every new manufacturing job creates 2.2 jobs in other sectors.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
Today, 3.5 billion people live in cities. Cities occupy 3% of the Earth's surface area. However, they account for 60% to 70% of global energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions.
By 2030, 5 billion people will be urban dwellers. Engineers and urban planners will be challenged to ensure that growing cities continue to create jobs and prosperity without straining land and resources.
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
"Doing more with less" is the overriding principle behind SDG 12. Today, sustainability reporting occurs in 93% of the world's TOP 250 companies. Life cycle thinking permeates the supply chain. Everyone is involved, from the producer to the final consumer. Resource use, energy efficiency and pollution are diligently monitored.
SDG 13: Climate Action
Climate change is now a recognized global phenomenon. Without swift action, the world's average surface temperature will increase by more than 3 degrees Celsius this century. Technological advances and changes in our behaviour are needed to limit this increase to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Sustainable Engineering: What is it?
Sustainable engineering is the process of designing or operating systems such that they do not compromise the natural environment, or the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This is done by reducing waste, using raw materials and energy efficiently and preventing pollution.
5 Engineering Training Topics That Will Propel Your Career Into the Future
Alright, so you have to earn professional development hours (PDH) to renew your engineering licence. Like many engineers, you may be wondering what type of engineering training courses would be the most beneficial to your career. After all, along with developing your soft skills, you need to stay informed on the innovations taking place in the industry.
To help you select your engineering training courses, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 biggest trends shaking up the engineering profession.
A significant amount of thought is going into climate change and its possible long-term effects. Here's how we know:
- Google the term "climate change," and you'll find 502 Million articles.
- Google "Climate change is here to stay," and 476 Million posts will appear within a fraction of a second.
What does this have to do with engineering? We’ll get to that in a second, but first, let’s go over some basic facts.
A. Carbon emissions must go down
In 2018, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) warned that rising carbon emissions would have to stop by 2030 to prevent the world from warming by 2° C. The earth is already expected to warm, overall, by 1.5° C.
Keith Clarke, chairman of Forum for the Future and vice president of the U.K.'s Institution of Civil Engineers, told ENR (Engineering News-Record), "It's not a different version of worse, "it's a different magnitude of worse," Clarke says. Now, he is certain it will impact anyone under 60. Clarke is 67. "It's going to affect your life, big time."
B. All engineering sectors emit carbon
Alright, so we need to reduce carbon emissions. The logical next question is, "Where are these emissions coming from?". The figure below by Our World in Data breaks down global carbon emissions by sector.
Notice something interesting? All of these sectors, electricity and heat production, transport, manufacturing, construction, and buildings, are founded on engineers' brainpower. We can conclude, then, that engineers, not politicians, must put their creativity to work to meet climate goals.
Now, let's talk about sustainable engineering.
C. Sustainable engineering is the solution
Sustainable engineering is,
" the process of designing or operating systems such that they use energy and resources sustainably, in other words, at a rate that does not compromise the natural environment or future generations' ability to meet their own needs. " (Wikipedia)
To learn more about sustainable engineering best practices, take engineering training courses on these topics:
- climate change,
- climate adaptation,
- water treatment,
- energy efficiency,
- resource efficiency,
- green energy technologies such as solar energy,
- green buildings,
- carbon capture technologies,
- sustainability and,
- novel design approaches such as biomimicry and life-cycle assessment.
Artificial Intelligence and Data Science
We are now in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution known as Industry 4.0. It brings unprecedented levels of factory automation, big data collection, artificial intelligence innovation, and machine learning.
Gone are the days of machines passively collecting process data and waiting for human intervention. Today, machines can learn by taking in data, analyzing it, taking action, and learning from the results of that action.
These smart machines will undoubtedly change how engineers work. Machines will not replace engineers but will automate low-value tasks, freeing engineers to perform higher-value tasks --- those which require creativity.
Take These Engineering Training Courses
To keep up with this dramatic change to the profession, take engineering training courses on these topics:
- artificial intelligence,
- big data,
- the Internet of Things (IoT),
- blockchain and,
- machine learning.
Digital Twins takes prototyping and testing to a whole new level. A digital twin is a virtual replica of a real-life product or process. It allows engineers to test new ideas and flush out flaws in the virtual world before spending real-world resources.
Once the product becomes a physical reality, it connects to its virtual twin, through the awesome power of the Internet of Things, and sends it information via sensors. According to MIT Sloan Review, the pairing of real-world assets with their digital twins yields in the following benefits:
A. Continuous evaluation
Did you know that every Tesla car has a digital twin? Sensors continuously communicate data to its digital twin. If a problem is detected, for example, the door is rattling, the system will prompt you to download software that will adjust the door’s hydraulics.
B. Faster, cheaper prototyping
Conducting tests in the virtual world can save a lot of time and money. Take the development of a new drug, for example.
This process typically costs billions of dollars, and just the preclinical testing phase can take an average of three and a half years. Using a digital twin, Oklahoma State University was able to test an aerosol drug whose purpose was to reach tumours in the lungs. They varied several parameters virtually, such as inhalation rate and particle size. The result? They increased the number of particles reaching the lungs from 20% to 90%. The virtual twin saved them the effort, time and resources required to run these same experiments in the real world.
C. Innovating at the limits
Some experiments are too disruptive to society to conduct in the real world but are necessary to optimize performance. Take the design of a new traffic system in an already congested area as an example.
The town of Cambridge England created a digital twin of the city and removed all traffic from its streets. The digital twin allowed engineers and city planners to experiment with new traffic systems and plan the location of 5G masts. The city sees other uses for its digital twin, such as a training platform for autonomous vehicles, and a foundation for interactive content providers.
Take These Engineering Training Courses
When putting together your engineering training program, consider taking courses on digital twins.
Generative design is the future of manufacturing. It is made possible by artificial intelligence and the computing power of the cloud which work together to come up with hundreds even thousands of solution to an engineering problem ---saving time and resources.
The engineer's role is to input the design limits, for example, the material, the dimensions and cost constraints, and then select the solution that best solves the problem.
Airbus used generative design to reconfigure an interior partition for its A320 aircraft. The new configuration resulted in a 45% weight reduction of the part (30kg), which translates into jet fuel savings across the fleet equal to taking 96,000 passenger cars off the road for a year.
Take These Engineering Training Courses
Generative design engineering training courses are a great addition to your professional development program. 3D printing courses complement this topic well.
We've all seen images of mammoth robots working on manufacturing lines. They reduce costs by reducing human participation significantly. They work around the clock without overtime pay or benefits.
Surprisingly, the demand for these traditional robots is falling as manufacturing companies look to integrate “cobots” or collaborative robots into their operations. A cobot is capable of learning multiple tasks so it can assist human beings.
They are now affordable thanks to innovations in mobile technology (making them portable), machine vision, cognitive computing and touch technology, which allows them to avoid collisions. They are small and require less power than their large industrial processors. A cobot can learn from its human coworker through demonstration freeing up workers for higher-value, better-paid tasks, without the need to completely reconstruct the whole production process.
Routine manufacturing tasks for cobots include:
1. Pick and Place,
2. Machine Tending (loading or tooling a CNC machine for example),
3. Packaging and Palletizing,
4. Repetitive process tasks such as gluing, dispensing, or welding,
5. Finishing Tasks such as polishing, grinding, deburring, and quality inspection.
Take These Engineering Training Courses
As we move towards Industry 4.0, manufacturing will become increasingly robotized and smart. To stay informed, take engineering training courses on
- Robotics especially cobots
- Industry 4.0 and
- the Internet of Things (IoT)
Include courses from these five subject areas in your engineering training plan to keep up with the exciting innovations happening in the engineering profession.
- Sustainable Engineering
- Artificial Intelligence and Data Science
- Digital Twins
- Generative Design
Check our course catalogue often as we strive to integrate courses from all these topics.
What Engineering Associations Across North America Have to Say About Sustainable Development
We've compiled a list of guidelines on sustainable development published by engineering associations across Canada and the USA. See the table below for links to their sustainability resources.
|USA||National Society of Professional Engineers (NPSE)||
Sustainability and Resilience
|USA||American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)||
National guideline on sustainable development and environmental stewardship for professional engineers
|CANADA||Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC)||
|CANADA||Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGA)||
|CANADA||Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS)||
Environment & Sustainability Committee
|CANADA||Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba (EngGeoMB)||
Principles of Climate Change Adaptation for Professional Engineers
|CANADA||Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO)||
Practice Guidelines - National Guidelines
Principles of Climate Change Adaptation for Engineers
Guideline on Sustainable Development and Environmental Stewardship for Professional Engineers
|CANADA||Quebec Order of Engineers (OIQ)||
Développement durable (French only)
|CANADA||Engineers Nova Scotia||
Professional Engineers & Geoscientists
Newfoundland & Labrador (PEGNL)
|CANADA||Northwest Territories Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists (NAPEG)||
Model Guideline Principles of Climate Change Adaptation for Engineers with NAPEG Preamble
How Engineering Training and Earning Engineering PDH (Professional Development Hours) Transforms You Into Today’s Most Highly Demanded engineer…
the "T-shaped" Engineer.
As a professional engineer, you may be wondering, “What is the benefit of PDH for engineers?” The short answer is that the engineering profession is evolving and acquiring PDH helps you to stay relevant in changing times.
For at least a century, engineers organized themselves into neatly delineated disciplines (mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering and so on). However,
as engineering projects become increasingly complex, the demand for a new kind of engineer is rising: the “T-shaped engineer.”
The term “T-shaped engineer” was first coined by David Guest in 1991 to describe a person who has skills and knowledge that are both deep and broad, as illustrated above.
The vertical bar on the “T“ represents the depth of the engineer’s technical knowledge in their field. The horizontal bar depicts their ability to work and communicate with experts outside of their specialization.
To become “T-shaped,” engineers today must develop cross-boundary skills such as empathy, communication, collaboration skills (collectively known as “soft skills”) and an understanding of sustainable development.
This principle is the foundation of the "Engineering Comptency Model" by the American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES) and the "Core Competencies Guidelines" by Engineers Canada.
A competent engineer possesses skills from both the vertical and vertical parts of the T.
In general, competent engineers possess the following skills,
1. Technical competence (Vertical part of the T)
2. Communication (Horizontal part of the T)
3. Project and financial management (Horizontal part of the T)
4. Team effectiveness (Horizontal part of the T)
5. Professional accountability (Horizontal part of the T)
6. Sustainability: Social, economic, environmental impacts and sustainable development (Horizontal part of the T)
7. Personal continuing professional development (Vertical and Horizontal part of the T)
It is interesting to see that 5 out of these 7 skills require that you, as a professional engineer, acquire skills that lie outside of your engineering discipline! Acquiring PDH in these areas transforms you into today’s most highly demanded engineer: the “T-shaped engineer”.