To “keep up with the trends”, DLSU SYNTAX hosted the Shift in the Engineering Practice (STEP) webinar series on January 16 and 23 via Facebook Live. Aside from discussing the role of engineers, the webinar also tackled current developments in engineering.
A forward-looking mindset
What is the role of engineers in the future of production? Speaker Engr. Aldin Sapit, the Toyota Motor Philippines Vice President for Plant Administration, highlighted three key persons—Kiichiro Toyoda, his father Sakichi Toyoda, and Engr. Taiichi Ohno for their roles in transforming the Toyoda Loom Company into the Toyota Industries we know today.
With the invention of the automatic loom, Sapit noted that Sakaichi “connected humans with machines” to see how machines could benefit humanity. Kiichiro Toyoda, however, “connected people with people” by building automobiles. Kiichiro’s venture eventually led to the creation of Toyota Industries.
As Sapit puts it, “Kiichiro never [lost] sight of the fact that you cannot build anything substantial or worthwhile if you could not connect it with humans.”
The new digital norm
“New technologies empower future engineers,” commented Engr. Onez Sueña, Senior Manager of Emerson Automation Solutions. Sueña used his background in electronics and communication engineering to make the shift toward digital technology, using it to address pressing, modern-day issues in the workforce.
Describing the Philippines as a progressive industry, Sueña discussed how the next generation of engineers will be the ones to dictate the future of new technology. “If it doesn’t work, then try something new,” Suena advises, envisioning that future innovations will be “safer, smarter, healthier, and more sustainable.”
To address an aging workforce, technologies such as Delta-V Mobile fundamentally increase efficiency in running operations as it seeks to remove the confines of the control room. With this system, engineers and managers can see data on current operations off-site, enabling them to have read-only access to vital information at their fingertips.
This trend toward digitalization is also exhibited in infrastructure. In his talk, Engr. Alden Ong, President and CEO of A.C. Ong Consulting Inc., explains how the different essential components of consulting firms, such as project management and engineering drawings, have seen an increasing shift toward the use of software.
In his talk, Engr. Gilbert Alvarez, Assistant Vice President and Plant Manager of San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corporation, commented that engineering is all about “working on a process”—that is, transforming inputs into outputs.
To explain this, Alvarez cited the sustainable glass industry he works in. “Glass can be used over and over again,” he said, describing the process of how glass, even when broken into shards, could still be utilized by glass manufacturers. He furthers, “[an industry] can only be called ‘sustainable’ if the sustainability [requirement] is applied to each of the [processes].”
Likewise, Ong shared his ideas on sustainability through Green Building, a project being brought to fruition in a resource-efficient manner. “In order to give them the right solution [or even] the right design, you need to be knowledgeable,” Ong explains, underscoring the complexities of sustainable design.
For this reason, meticulous examination of construction products should be prioritized by both engineers and architects as they will lead us toward a sustainable future. Envisioning an environment that promotes and guarantees public safety and good health, Ong and his team design their projects in a way that meets customer needs while considering environmental impacts.
The barrier to sustainability
“The challenge really is on the design” comments Alvarez, “it’s not really that sustainability means more expensive.” He brings up the idea of choosing between wood and more sustainable materials such as aluminum and glass for designing windows, and points out that choosing glass or aluminum does not necessarily equate to higher costs.
While sustainable design is one of the biggest challenges in the engineering industry, it may also serve as an opportunity to revamp how the industry can look in the years to come. With this, a variety of steps must be taken into account. Alvarez also entertained further questions on sustainability and social responsibility.
Ong and Alvarez both emphasize that sustainability is the future of engineering. Sueña highlights that the shift is “moving towards automatic, digital.” The realization of these visions is now up to our future engineers. As Sapit put it, “The Philippines, until now, is still waiting for their Kiichiro Toyoda.”