The combination of new technologies, aircraft demand in back-log and increasing activity in emerging markets, raises the question of aerospace engineering capacity as well as the type of expertise that will be needed to address the multitude of challenges in existing and new markets. Does the industry have the skills and expertise in the right places to meet current and future needs?
QS Top Universities, a publisher of university rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), in a recent article, places aerospace engineering at number two in the top five most in demand engineering jobs in the future. "With an estimated global demand for 27,000 new passenger planes and 40,000 commercial helicopters between 2013 and 2031, as well as rapid advancements in aerospace technology, the sector will continue to grow and generate high salary jobs for graduates with strong technical knowledge of aerospace systems and problem-solving innovative minds."
For an aerospace engineer, and for graduates contemplating their future in the industry, they'll be designing nanosatellites, flying cars, electric and supersonic aircraft. Increasing gas emissions and making aircraft 'greener' will likely continue to be a great engineering challenge. Craft to craft communication, data management, cyber security, and propulsion systems will key domains, and expertise in these fields will be much sought after.
Aside from 'the what' aerospace engineers will be focused on, we should also think about where the engineering will take place. India and China will no doubt feature strongly in the future expertise pool. Even today, taking a look at global job openings for Boeing engineering, removing US based jobs, we see that 35% of jobs are located in China or India. And as an example of how that expertise is being applied, recent development of the C919, built by state-owned aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), and which has just made its maiden flight, is further evidence that China has high ambitions in the industry. India and China will likely need expertise from engineers in established markets and will also become the source of much needed expertise in other markets. The need and use of expertise will no doubt be reciprocal.
No doubt, wherever the future of aerospace takes us, to new heights in technology and aircraft, to new markets, and with existing players to innovate together with the abundant potential of start-ups, aerospace engineering will be the most exciting of areas to work in. The domains of expertise are evolving into unchartered territory, and access to the right expertise in the right places will be paramount to success.
Wilbur Wright's words are the perfect way to tell the story, "It is not really necessary to look too far into the future, we see enough already to be certain it will be magnificent. Only let us hurry and open the roads."