4 Ways COVID-19 Could Change Engineering Forever

Author: Emma O'Brien
Published date: October 12, 2020

Say what you like about COVID-19, it’s certainly shaken things up. In engineering, the post-pandemic “new normal” will be very different… but could it actually be better? Here are four key areas that are likely to see dramatic long-term change:

Collaboration

When COVID-19 hit, UK based Engineering showed its true prowess and sprang into action.

Their response to the emergency was inspiring. Organisations across the sector came together to collaborate on making PPE and ventilators and creating extra hospital capacity. Even rival companies joined hands, showing what engineers can achieve when the cause is beyond profit.

The connections built during this period will last longer than the pandemic – as will the memories of how people came together, and the focus on getting things done through collaboration and support.

Speed

Engineers usually have to work around a lot of regulatory red tape. When COVID-19 forced regulators to cut it, we saw just how fast engineers can work. Prototypes appeared in days, finished products in weeks.

Sam Turner, one of the senior figures of Ventilator Challenge UK, was quoted as saying the rapid decisions, requalification of parts, and supply-chain sourcing that happened in four or five weeks to bring the ventilator project together would normally have taken two and a half years.

Of course, we can’t just make the new normal a regulatory Wild West. Some of that red tape is going to have to come back. But with so many needs, such as climate change, still urgent, governments and regulatory bodies have little excuse for slowing engineers down.

Remote working

According to a Professional Engineering survey, 18% of engineers say working at home doesn’t impact their efficiency at all, and a similar number also find technical engineering tasks no harder at home. In light of this, companies will be asking themselves serious questions about offering remote working as a long-term option for some engineers.

Those who do go back to the workplace will also see major changes, with some firms considering introducing wearables to make social distancing easier, along with changes to working hours and shift patterns to allow sites to maintain productivity”

Pandemic prevention

Nobody wants another experience like COVID-19. Governments will be working to put prevention plans in place for the next pandemic.That means engineers will be called on to create high-tech solutions to fight disease, like temperature monitoring devices, ventilators, and anti-bacterial surfaces.

Some companies that have shifted production to these kinds of solutions on an emergency basis might decide to make the switch permanent, making their “new normal” helping to save lives.