While scientists often get most of the credit, engineers know that they are responsible for creating the infrastructure that powers modern society. The theoretical aspects of running society are important, but those who put these theories into practice deserve much of the credit. Fortunately, engineers are compensated well for their work, but some field of engineering can expect more growth than others. This growth translates into higher demand, which leads to better salaries for engineers with the right skills. Here are three engineering fields that will likely see a significant amount of growth in the coming year.
Through the 1980s, many environmentalists viewed large cities as the bane of environmental protection. Because large cities are a major source of pollution and other factors that harm the environment, many environmentalists encouraged people to live in the suburbs and in rural areas. This opinion, however, has changed dramatically as environmentalists have come to realize that people who live in cities are far more efficient than those who do not. Further, conservative actors view large cities as important sources of commerce, and the efficient housing provided in large cities is encouraging many conservatives to support investment in civil infrastructure. More people are living in large cities in the United States than ever before, and this trend is expected to continue. Civil engineers will be at the forefront of preparing cities for higher populations. Smart growth is a popular concept that gains support from those of all political ideologies; the focus on smart growth will lead to an increase in the demand for civil engineers.
Despite the chilling effect of the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactor, many states in the United States are choosing to invest in nuclear power. Also, many experts have noted that the environmental harm caused by nuclear power pales in comparison to that which is caused by coal power plants, and modern power plants are unlikely to encounter the problems that arose in Japan. As new nuclear plants come online, nuclear engineers will be needed to ensure regulatory compliance and safe practices. Further, the United States has a large number of nuclear power plants that have been in use far longer than was originally planned. Maintaining these plants will require the work of experts, and new components will need to be retrofitted onto these plants. Nuclear engineers can expect to see more jobs in the future, and the length of time it takes for a nuclear plant to come online will ensure that these jobs will be around for decades.
The United States has one of the world’s oldest electrical grids, and the sheer size of the United States ensures that this grid is difficult to maintain. A surprising amount of electricity is lost in the transmission of electricity, and sophisticated measures are needed to avoid generating more electricity than is needed. As a result, the United States government is investing in a smart grid that can better utilize the electricity that is produced. This is favorable to environmentalist who recognize that wasted electricity pumps more carbon into the atmosphere than is necessary and those interested in business who realize that a smart grid will lead to lower electricity costs. Implementing the smart grid, however, will be difficult, and electrical engineers will need to be hired to perform the difficult task of upgrading the old power system. This change will take decades to implement, so electrical engineers can expect long-term work in this field.
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