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ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING: THE 13 MOST INFLUENTIAL TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2020!

The electrical engineering industry is under a significant paradigm shift. Ambitious research and development departments all around the globe are working towards better ways to obtain, store, and use electrical energy. Despite significant strides in the past year, the electrical engineering industry is not showing any signs of slowing down. Below are some of the most noteworthy industry trends you should watch out for in 2020.

Smart Grids

Unlike in the past, whereby consumers solely depended on a local electrical power company, today, they have many options. With the ability to even generate their own power, some consumers also now want to sell their surplus. As a result, the electricity delivery infrastructure has to change. 

In response to these demands, most Energy Departments around the world are placing smart devices throughout their networks, right up to customers’ homes, offices, and factories. The smart grid collects valuable data to allow both consumers and suppliers a higher degree of control over multiple power sources. It also enables them to predict surges in usage and instantly detect outages.

By allowing end-to-end communication between distribution sites, power plants, and the end user’s electrical point-of-presence, smart grids significantly raise efficiency and reduce costs.

Soon, it’s inevitable that electrical engineers will frequently come across smart grids and or be asked to help develop one.

Soon, electrical Vehicles would be the standard de facto

Tesla recently hit the $100 billion milestone, making itself the first publicly listed US carmaker in history to do so. This is a good sign that electric vehicles have come to stay.

Experts predict that by 2030, there would be over 125 million electric vehicles on the road. Considering the millions of EVs that are already roaming the streets, this is not so much of a long-short. Many EV manufacturers are investing hard into the tech, and consumers can expect better batteries, improved charging tech, more accurate autonomous driving, solar-powered EVs, and even electric planes!

Wireless Power Transfer

Wireless power transfer is in its primitive stages, but the future is bright. In 2020, we expect better wireless charging for laptops, smartphones, earphones, and other smart devices.

Shortly, however, we expect much more. Soon, wireless charging will also become the standard for electric cars. Instead of the large charging docks, drivers will be able to park on a charging spot without needing to plug in. Expects predict that a few years from now, it will also be possible to charge your electric vehicle while it’s moving!

Wireless Wearable Tech

Last year, at the recent Apple event, Tim Cook shared a couple of videos he had received from several apple watch users. These customers appreciated how the apple watch had detected their health conditions (such as Atrial Fibrillation) and encouraged them to visit a doctor—ultimately saving their lives.  

Well, this is the same case with wearables in electrical engineering: they are literally lifesavers as well. An excellent example is Proxxi bracelets for electrical engineers with a sensor that vibrates if it gets too close to high-voltage electricity. SolePower also developed boots that are built with temperature sensing, lighting, cloud connectivity, and GPS to provide a warning for overheating, proximity to danger, and falls.

Furthermore, wearable devices are being developed to authenticate access to electrical machinery, provide communications information without the use of mobile phones. This significantly improves the overall safety of electrical engineers.

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Artificial intelligence

If artificial intelligence has penetrated large industries like armaments and medicine, surely the electrical engineering landscape cannot be an exception. Electrical engineers are expected to do much better with AI. By blending their prowess and skill with the know-how of AI and machine learning, electrical engineers are contributing the following:

  • Create complex algorithms for data interpretation
  • Generate new codes or revamping existing codes
  • Build massive AI and machine learning platforms
  • Develop comprehensive strategies in the field of electronics

Most notably, artificial intelligence is going to help electrical engineers with image processing. Leveraging AI, engineers can invent complex image processing algorithms to help machines detect electrical or structural abnormalities on a framework and quickly send feedback or suggest rectifications.

Ultimately, this helps to improve the workplace safety of electrical engineers who are often involved in hazardous and massive electronic production lines. 

Prefabricated products

The use of prefabricated and preassembled electrical components is increasing. While they significantly bring substantial cost savings, it seems electricians are not happy with the trend.

Electrical engineers are concerned that this threatens their role. “Prefab products?” grunted one union electrician. “They don’t need us for that. A monkey can do that work “. Some also argue that prefab increases the safety of electrical engineers, their efficiency and ultimately compensates for the industry’s labor shortage. 

Energy-saving lighting technologies

Gone are the days when LED bulbs were only for those willing to pay the top dollar. LED lamps are becoming the standard de facto light bulb. Today, with prices as low as $2 per bulb or even less, LED bulbs are now a possibility for the average consumer. 

Due to their energy-saving capabilities, the bulbs pay for themselves in a matter of months. On average, they can save each household $50-$100 per year in utility bills. With more advances in smart technology, these lights are expected to become even more efficient and easy to install in the near future.

Automated client relationship and project management

Generally, electrical engineers are not enthusiasts of paperwork. However, as much as they love their practical work, there are instances when paperwork is necessary. Fortunately, now there is software that electrical engineers can use to organize scheduling and billing, track customer interactions, and ultimately spend less time on paperwork.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT impacts many different areas of the electrical engineering landscape. From smart grids to smart lighting and Visible Light Communication (VLC), among many others, IoT is now intertangled with the electrical engineering industry. As a result, it’s now imperative that every electrical engineer becomes “IoT literate.”

Apart from the smart grid benefits like monitoring, distribution and automation implemented in electrical utilities, IoT applications in the field of electrical energy also include smart inverters, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), remote control operation of energy-consuming devices and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition.)

Increased use of Drones

When you think of drones, often you probably think of the entertainment industry, shooting music videos and movies.

Well, the application of drones goes far beyond the entertainment industry. A recent survey on seven business sectors has shown that the engineering and construction industries use drones the most. Did you know that leveraging drones can increase safety on a construction site by 55%?

Electrical engineers are using drones to examine certain hazardous electrical zones without putting themselves at risk. This provides much-needed safety in the electrical engineering industry. Furthermore, drones are now helping to record, collect, and analyze data at the job site, thus increasing productivity and efficiency. 

A boost in the implementation of sustainable energy

With Greta Thunberg making her firm stand for intense action towards climatic change, it’s certainly not the best time for the energy sector to rely on fossil fuels and other environmentally unfriendly energy sources.

The drive for sustainable energy sources is at its peak. The implementation of utility-scale renewable fuels such as solar, wind, and hydropower is, at its peak increase all around the world.

Energy storage and better batteries

While wind and solar power are excellent sources of sustainable energy, they are not always there. Therefore, consumers can only “make hay when the sun shines.” They have to do their best to save energy from the wind, the sun, or any other renewable sources for later use. 

To meet this demand, electrical engineers all around the world are working towards better batteries and energy storage. Distributed Energy Resource (DER), grid parity, AI and sustainable energy, blockchain, and cybersecurity. 

Generally, 2020 is an exciting year for the electrical engineering landscape. Companies like Tesla, Eos, Sonnen, and Vivint Solar are some to keep an eye on for the latest innovations.

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Robotics

While robotics-based technologies are often ridiculed for stealing people’s jobs in most industries, it’s a different case in electrical engineering. Robotics significantly help to improve safety. For instance, remotely controlled, wireless underground cable cutters can be used instead of putting humans at life-threatening risk.

Wrap Up

Electrical engineers have a lot on their deck, and we can’t wait for all these awesome innovations to reach their full potential. These trends will lead us toward the future. Where the lights never go out unexpectedly, a world whereby everything is more comfortable, efficient, and affordable!

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