Inspiring the Next Engineers
A call for volunteers begins with an ask and ends with feelings of purpose for those who answer.
We are living at a time in which innovation is more accessible and advancing faster than ever. The push for affordable technology while simultaneously building a truly global engineering community is reshaping what engineering looks like. As a result, the next generation of engineers, particularly those in aerospace, are poised to make a major impact on our planet and the New Space that surrounds it.
So, who are the next aerospace engineers? What do they know today, and what could they know tomorrow? How will they change the aerospace industry, and how is NI helping them do it?
The next aerospace engineers are focused on so much more than their own unique contributions and everyday assignments: They understand how their work impacts short- and long-term business goals. This generation is moving into New Space (in which the traditional space sector has become commercialized1) by playing a role at the system level; valuing products and product life cycles.
The next aerospace engineers care about design, development, test, validation, and all of the processes their work supports. It is important for them to be involved early in projects and expand their influence beyond technical input. In essence, these engineers “own” more of the work they do and create new opportunities for themselves.
And there’s another group to consider when forecasting the future of aerospace—the stewards. These visionaries use aerospace concepts to provide direction and find creative solutions to grand engineering challenges, including sustainability, deforestation, and climate change. Stewards evolve from individual contributors into policy makers thanks to their passion and dedication to making our world a better place.
They know and do a lot: The next aerospace engineers are makers and problem-solvers. This generation understands that they are empowered to innovate, and they are resourceful. There is an expectation among them to move fast and not be afraid of failing often. Data is valuable to them; they incorporate it into their designs as a means to iterate with speed and efficiency.
What could they know? They’ll figure out how to innovate and integrate on a much larger scale than ever before. This means that they foster ideas, and let them prevail and evolve. They intend for their ideas to have a larger impact outside of their labs. The products that they create are more than solutions—they become the architecture on which to build the next big idea.
They’ll also learn how to apply what they know in ways not traditionally associated with the industry. They do so because they regard diverse views, opinions, needs, and values as vital. Future aerospace leaders champion and leverage collaboration tools—such as cloud platforms—while respecting intellectual property and maintaining security requirements.
To this group, the atmosphere surrounding our planet is more than a cushion between us and our interstellar neighbors—it’s precious space that we can harness to protect our planet and the life that inhabits it.
The next generation will revolutionize off-Earth infrastructure. Some industry leaders already have explored possibilities with reusable launch vehicles and satellite constellations that connect us to parts of the world that were once too remote to reach. As this type of innovation continues to distance itself from traditional obstacles (such as cost, efficiency, and regulation), future aerospace pioneers have a real opportunity to evolve in this space and rethink how we use it.
And they will revisit and reopen once-discarded concepts. Unconcerned with the practical, they seek to answer forgotten questions. With access to New Space, and to each other, what’s next for this group is whatever they want.
As a company, we are providing aerospace’s next engineers with software, hardware, and services that are as dynamic as the individuals who use them. We want to help them develop faster and more efficiently than ever before, so we will work together to build solutions that far exceed what was once thought possible. Because, to the next aerospace engineers, the sky isn’t the limit—it’s only the beginning.
1. “The Commercial Space Age Is Here,” Harvard Business Review, February 12, 2021, https://hbr.org/2021/02/the-commercial-space-age-is-here.