Saturday, May 24, 2014

Designing for a Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, and Cheaper World

The focus of engineering is change.  How do we change the world - for the better.   Defining better will involve all of the five metrics - smaller, faster, lighter, denser, and cheaper.  Specifically engineers will focus on:
  1. Smaller - Designing things that require less space and material will be important in a world of resource constraints where small is better.  My iPhone is a perfect example.  As small as my wallet, yet with a quarter-million times the data-storage capacity of the Apollo spaceship, things like the iPhone demonstrate the power of blending sustainability, performance, and smallness.
  2. Faster - The speed of change is accelerating.  This includes all types of change - technological, economic, environmental, political, and social.  People want their water treatment plant design and constructed faster - they expect technology to produce dynamic improvements that accelerates and amplifies across a broad spectrum of society.
  3. Lighter - Nothing is designed to be heavier versus the same or similar product from 30-years ago.  Lighter will go beyond material or packaging reductions.  Lighter water and carbon footprints will increasingly be part of design requirements. 
  4. Denser - The 14 county of North Texas is projected to grow from six million to over 16 million by 2050.  Denser living is slowly coming to North Texas.  This will require new ways of thinking about infrastructure, services, and products.  Other issues, such as energy densities associated with batteries, will require design attention.
  5. Cheaper - If done correctly, smaller, faster, lighter, and denser can produce the 5th metric - cheaper.  Doing all of this at a lower cost is critical and sets the stage for a century dominated by vast improvements - from poverty reduction to environment improvements to economic growth.

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