Advanced manufacturing – It’s much cooler than it sounds!
The phrase ‘advanced manufacturing’ is probably not one many of us are too familiar with. But this is nothing to be embarrassed about. Whenever people say the word ‘manufacturing’ our minds always drift towards factories and the production of goods. To some extent, this is still true, only with advanced manufacturing, it’s a bit more techy!
Put simply, advanced manufacturing is using state of the art and futuristic technology to improve products and processes. Still doesn’t sound cool? Well here are a couple of things advanced manufacturing is involved in:
High performance computing – The technology behind airplane simulators and supercomputers.
This area of AM has long helped to solve some of the biggest problems in science and engineering. For example, did you know supercomputers are helping to fight cancer?
Researchers at the University of South Wales are using mathematical modelling and computer simulation, made possible by supercomputing technology, to gain a vital understanding into the biological processes behind cancerous cells.
Dr. Tatiana Tatarinova, who is leading the study says, “Computational biology has the potential to become one of the most important areas of scientific research in the twenty-first century.”
Advanced robotics – Robot to clean your room, they already exist. Robots to do your homework? Wouldn’t that be great…?
Robots are already more widespread than most of us assume or are aware of. However due to fictional portrayals of robots being more human-like (think C-3PO from Star Wars) many of us don’t recognise them in their more industrial form.
At present, advanced robotics is quite widespread in more industrial settings (food processing and packaging for example). However, robots are also already playing an important role in daily life in some professions. For example, drones are playing a starring role in film and TV production, whilst Amazon and Domino’s Pizza are looking at using drones as a more efficient, alternate delivery method.
According to experts, it is estimated that advanced robotics can benefit the global economy by up to $4.5 trillion annually by 2025.
Computer technologies – Such as CAD (or Computer Aided Design), which is used to create video games
The uses for computer aided design, and other computer technologies extend further than just video game creation. Arguably, much of today’s world wouldn’t exist without the help of CAD. Pretty much all products, equipment and buildings we associate with on a daily basis are a result of some sort of computer aided design.
For example, architects use 2D CAD to develop overhead floorplans and outdoor landscapes for buildings, whilst 3D CAD plays a pivotal role in the creation of animated films, product design and civil engineering.
Did we mention you can get a degree in video game design?
Automation – Heard about those self-driving cars Google have in California?
It is predicted that by 2020, ten million self-driving cars will already be on the road globally – but these things don’t make themselves. Current technology allows cars to park themselves, and Google, Volvo and a number of other carmakers are making positive strides toward turning the dream into a working reality.
However, the government argues that these vehicles are a long way off being safe enough to be present on our roads. Could you be the person to provide the technology to dispel this argument?
So, what does this all mean?
The previous points highlight a couple of important factors:
1. Advanced manufacturing isn’t a narrow subject area or profession
The opportunities which choosing to go down this path can present are almost endless and will undoubtedly grow further in future.
2. Engineering and AM jobs do not fit their perceived stereotypes – they exceed them
The variety of roles available shows that jobs in this sector are much more than just wearing overalls and getting greasy.
Why should I get into this industry?
If the points above didn’t do enough to convince you, then maybe some facts and figures will. According to data from Engineering UK, the UK will need just under 90,000 engineering graduates a year, every year for the next six years – however only 46,000 are being produced annually! Evidently, there is a need that needs fulfilling, so there’s no better time to get involved!
How can I get into AM and engineering?
In the first few years of secondary school it’s not uncommon to have no clear idea what you want to do further down the line, in terms of the immediate future (GCSE subjects) and the distant future (university degrees, jobs etc). The first steps on the pathway to a successful career in advanced manufacturing are much closer than they may appear. Choosing the right GCSE’s is a major key.
To be properly qualified from the start it is important to focus on choosing and doing well in STEM subjects. These include, Maths, Computer Science, Science and Engineering. In the past few years there has been a noted surge in the popularity of these subjects amongst young people, especially girls.
So, need we say more?