‘Tomorrow’s Engineering Research Challenges’ Report Identifies Key Challenge Facing UK’s Engineering Research Sector

The EPSRC-backed report follows an extensive community consultation exercise and identifies a range of high-level community priorities, cross-cutting themes, and technological challenges facing the sector.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has published a report containing the findings of an extensive UK-wide community engagement activity that aimed to identify key challenges facing the UK’s engineering research sector and the research needed to tackle them.

The report was compiled from nine months of engagement activities including workshops, roundtable meetings and written contributions, and was one of the largest engagement exercises conducted across the UK’s engineering research community.

This engagement process helped to identify the most pressing actions and recommendations for funders, professional bodies and the wider community, specifically:

  • Promoting inclusive engineering outcomes for all with more diverse input.
  • Strengthening mechanisms to facilitate and fund multi- and inter-disciplinary research.
  • ‘Re-engineering’ the discipline of engineering, bringing knowledge from other disciplines to bear to prepare young engineers to tackle future challenges.
  • Encouraging diverse, agile and impactful skills.
  • Convening and connecting with the professional engineering community to enhance impact.
  • Inspiring the next generation of engineers.

The report identifies a number of broad cross-cutting themes which engineering will play a crucial role in addressing:

  • Achieving net zero and sustainability.
  • Faster digital design.
  • Greater access and use of data.
  • Increasing human resilience.
  • Understanding complex systems.
  • Harnessing disruptive, emerging technologies.
  • Underpinning tools and techniques.

It also explores the ambitious technological challenges for the next 10 to 15 years which engineering research will be crucial to addressing:

  • Space
  • Transportation systems
  • Materials
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Robotics and artificial intelligence
  • Responsible engineering
  • Nature-based engineering
  • Global engineering solutions.

EPSRC Executive Chair Professor Dame Lynn Gladden said:

“It has been great to see the community connect and collaborate to identify the key challenges for future engineering.

“The new perspectives that have been offered have been refreshing and have truly shaped our thinking in the development of this report. We are committed to working with the engineering community to realise their recommendations.

“Engineering skills are essential to deliver the innovation and new technologies required to deliver social and economic success across the UK.”

Continuing community engagement, such as workshops to discuss the report and its recommendations, will take place later in the year.

The report can be read in full at the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) website.

(This report was the subject of a ResearchConnect Newsflash.)