Innovation in Engineering

March 6th, 2024

Eng. Dr. Trevor Townsend, President, Association of Professional Engineers of Trinidad & Tobago (APETT)

Eng. Dr. Trevor Townsend,
Association of Professional Engineers of Trinidad & Tobago (APETT).

The world of engineering is constantly evolving. Digital transformation is shaping the landscape of the future of the engineering industry. The growth of renewable energy coupled with automation is set to impact timelines and budgets positively.

What are the key trends shaping the future of engineering in T&T?

Artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, big data management, cloud-based storage, sustainable development, and sustainable energy are the common global trends across the four engineering divisions: civil, mechanical, chemical, and electrical. These are also applicable to T&T.

What are the benefits of these trends for the local industry?

They offer opportunities for improved planning and coordination, enhanced data collection and analysis and make project management more efficient. Many firms in Trinidad and Tobago have been taking advantage of these technologies. It allows us to seamlessly export our services regionally and internationally without having a physical presence. With respect to sustainability, the trend towards solar and wind energy is progressing steadily in T&T. It will become even more important in the future.

How will budgets and timelines be impacted?

Initially, greater spending is needed because these tools require higher capital investment. It helps if you balance that investment against project life-cycle costs. These trends can positively impact budgets and timelines once there is proper management and implementation. Depending on their capitalisation and cash flow level, firms will employ new technology as their budgets permit.

How are local engineering companies responding to these trends?

There is some uptake. The needs and wants of stakeholders and customers often drive implementation. Regulatory agencies also play a role in influencing strategy. We are a small island state; therefore, we must ‘pick and choose’ the technology and solutions best suited to our unique circumstances.

Is there a required shift in the local engineering industry to use these transformative trends?

Locally we require our engineering programmes to be internationally accredited. That means that what we teach is on par with global standards. We keep up to date with the engineering fundamentals and ensure that the public’s concerns and interests are protected. Ethical issues may arise as we move towards greater use of AI and robotics. One of the key things required to stay abreast of global engineering trends is investment in continuous professional development. That is something that the industry has not been doing enough of in the past; amendments to the Engineering Profession Act will fast-track that.

Article by: Sheldon Waithe