Be it the talk over a cup of coffee or the table talk by the leaders of the world, Corona Crisis is the buzz word. At present times, our mornings start with a dip into the negative impacts of COVID 19. With the industry hit hard, an uncertain future looms large before the graduating engineers and young aspirants. But is there another side of the story? I thought of reaching out to my readers with the findings that hint at transforming thoughts and positive drives catalysed by the global pandemic.
Mechanical Engineering Industry @ Positive Corona
As per VDMA (Mechanical Engineering Industry Association), majority of the industries are focusing on technology transformation to return to the ‘New Normal’. The pandemic has triggered the need of a complete overhaul of an organization’s technology systems encompassing hardware, software, network architecture, data management favourably affecting all of people, process and the technology. Though the Mechanical and Plant Engineering industries were already in the process to adopt Industry 4.0, the technology transformation timeline has been positively brought forward with the emergence of this global pandemic.
- The crisis driven high tech mechanization will bless the industry with better product realization, flexibility, and reliability.
- Lessons learnt from the global crisis will prompt a rational focus on the product portfolio and risk profile of the company.
- As per United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), manufacturing sector has earned its place as a mainstay of the recovery strategies of post-COVID-19 economies.
- Demand of counter COVID-19 products has opened up a new horizon before the Mechanical Engineering industry focusing on scaled up production of medical devices and appliances.
- Projected investments in future technology such as Collaborative Automation may soon see the Collaborative Robots (Cobots) ushering in Industry 5.0 ready industry.
- In the post-Corona world, entrepreneurship is expected to witness a spike. There will be surge in the start-ups with deep-pocketed investors willing to invest in the areas of clean energy, healthcare, food and agriculture, drone technology etc. which will be attractive propositions for a Mechanical Engineer.
The Corona Crisis will pass, while the strategies developed during the turmoil will continue to evolve the industries stronger and fitter for the future.
Mechanical Engineering Education @ Positive Corona
The ‘New Normal’ will require more skilled engineers than ever before. With the industry poised to adopt the crisis driven technology transformations, the traditional Mechanical Engineering education is revamping itself with a modern curriculum. The essence of automation, cyber physical systems, digital communication, Industrial IoT (IIOT), digital manufacturing, robotics, cognitive computing methods, and their integration are finding the place among the core Mechanical Engineering concepts. With students taking up such allied domains as Minors will only boost their preparedness for the multi-disciplinary environment of the industry.
The pandemic has seen a rapid shift to a model of blended learning with the teaching community turning out to be more tech savvy ultimately transforming the pedagogy. Creating virtual & interactive Mechanical Engineering laboratories has always posed a great challenge. The concept of ‘Lab on Laptop’ has received a tremendous boost with the need of online mode of teaching-learning during the crisis situation. Importantly, the crisis has reinforced the intense academia-academia and academia-industry collaborative teaching-learning through online seminars, guest lectures, colloquiums, virtual industry internships etc. The wider canvas of Mechanical Engineering dealing with systems- big and small, human-powered and AI driven- is expected to be immensely benefitted through the rich spectrum of online mode of collaborations.
Mechanical Engineering Research and Innovation @ Positive Corona
Any crisis is always is always a strong driver of creativity and innovation, and the same is also true for the Corona crisis. In COVID-19 times, the research world of Mechanical Engineering focused on fighting the pandemic.
- Mechanical ventilators with artificial intelligence capabilities to automate the functioning of the ventilator.
- IoT-based system to create a Ventilator Management System.
- Positive Pressure Respirator System (PRPS) as a substitute of N-95 masks.
- Disinfection chamber and isolation shelter.
- Autonomous robotic disinfection system along with capabilities of serving medicines, food, and collecting samples of patients.
- Internal combustion engine emission study techniques adapted to research new mask materials.
- Improved HVAC systems to reduce the incidence of human-generated airborne COVID-19 transmission (ACT) in public spaces.
- MEMS sensor technology into 3-D printed mobile ventilators and wearable wireless sensor systems to enable electronic tracking of physical distancing.
Post crisis, the manufacturing industry is expected to sanction boosting research and innovations in green manufacturing, digital technologies and big data, product material passports, traceability technologies such as use of sensors. Mechanical engineers will be taking up the task of innovating technology upgrades in the area of medical devices especially for the strongly evolving mechanical ventilator industry. Necessitated by the crisis, automotive industry has realized the need of accelerating research on autonomous vehicles, touchless transactions, e-scooters, kickboards etc. The pandemic has brought forward a unique opportunity of collaboration between researchers cutting across disciplines which is certain to promote academic research as well as industrial R&D.
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