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How Cloud Computing is Changing Engineering

Trevor English
March 7, 2017

Cloud computing is becoming one of the most integral capabilities in the engineering and technology fields. Many companies are basing their entire business model on the ability to utilize cloud computing, and it is changing our engineering capabilities for the better.

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The way we make and design things is rapidly changing with the onset of cloud computing. It isn’t necessarily a new technology, rather it has only recently reached a level that can be adopted and utilized on a grander scale. Cloud computing is allowing CAM and CAD to be done on remote supercomputers. This means that engineers and designers no longer have to rely on a powerful machine in their office if they want to run groundbreaking simulations or create intensive designs. Storing much of a CAD software’s computing power off site also allows for better efficiency in data and power management.

The other advantage cloud computing brings is that all of the data is centralized in the cloud. This means that engineers can have the same plans available to them across any device. You can make edits and the files will be updated on every other machine you work on. This is the advantage of being connected to one central cloud.

We are seeing utilization of the cloud in its most pure sense, data management on a global scale. When engineering data is managed so effectively, it enables us as engineers to collaborate with ease. Instead of having to share bulky files through email or online folder, we can work together with other engineers across the world seamlessly through the cloud. Integration of the cloud into modern engineering software is breaking down walls, but the biggest wall it’s breaking is for small businesses.

In the past, larger companies were set apart from smaller companies by how much computing power they had. Only the engineering giants had access to powerful supercomputers and cutting edge technology.

Now, any engineer with a laptop or even tablet can access supercomputers to design through the connected cloud. This means small businesses and contracting engineers have the same access to technology as the giants. Cloud computing is leveling the playing field.

Utilizing the cloud to its fullest extent also means extending our knowledge beyond simple CAD design. For manufacturing plants, integrating the Internet of Things (IoT) with cloud computing has meant that entire assembly lines can be monitored by engineers across the country. In some senses, cloud-integrated IoT means that engineers can understand a manufacturing plant without ever setting foot on the production floor. For an engineer working to optimize production flow or redesign a manufacturing process, these capabilities are invaluable. 

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Where we currently stand with cloud computing right now won’t stay static either. As innovation continues, we will start seeing software packages float away from hardware restrictions. Centralized computing means a user’s machine doesn’t have to be as powerful. Connecting others to information will grow easier, and computing will transition from a personal endeavor to a social one. Much like how the internet brought people together across the world, cloud computing will bring the cycle full circle and allow us to work with others on different machines like we were right next to one another – no delays in response.

Not buying into the cloud just yet? Let me propose to you an interesting idea about our future. In the next 5 to 10 years, the new CIOs and the CEOs of technology companies will be men and women raised on cloud computing. Young engineers right now are being raised on the mentality that software is a service industry, not a product industry. The way we interact with programs and computing power is radically shifting. As we start seeing more leaders taking charge raised on the understanding of cloud computing as integral to software, the future will become even more set in stone. It is ultimately a good thing. It’s a future that will empower creators across the world who previously didn’t have access to powerful computers. Cloud computing will slowly but surely give everyone the ability to make anything.

Sources: Engineer Live, JBace, Wall Street Journal, Forbes

Images: [1] 

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Trevor English

Trevor is a civil engineer by trade with an extensive background in technical writing and content production. He is inspired by finding new and interesting technologies and bringing them to the world.

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