Tackling the world’s most pressing global challenges will require increased international engineering collaboration across many disciplines to develop sustainable solutions, according to a new report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
- Collaboration needed despite global trends towards nationalism and isolationism
- Engineers have a unique role in developing holistic approaches
- Managers need to have the right skills to understand cultural sensitivities
Solving global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and future pandemics will require worldwide collaboration in contradiction of the current trends towards nationalism and isolationism.
In the report “The Future of International Collaborative Engineering – A Manifesto”, the Institution explores the nature of engineering collaboration, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and considers how engineers have a unique role in integrating scientific, social and economic knowledge into holistic approaches.
Dr Tim Fox, the report’s author and Fellow of the Institution, said:
“It is vital that the engineering profession comes together around the globe to advocate for collaboration, work towards reversing isolationism, and ensure that engineers at all stages in their career journey have opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for successful multi-discipline, multi-sector, multi-nation collaborative engagement. The need for such collaboration has arguably never been so acute.”
The report features three case studies on collaboration during the pandemic- FujiFilm’s work to support vaccine manufacture, the University College London (UCL) – Venture project to develop a new breathing aid for COVID-19 patients and the experience at Brunel University of working with engineering students exclusively online.
In all three cases, the legacy is a previously unthinkable way of collaborating to achieve high standards of engineering and creating a new approach to innovation which has yielded impressive results.
The report calls on Governments to develop and implement strategies to drive greater international collaboration to support countries which do not have the resources to design and implement the complex holistic programmes needed to solve global challenges
It notes that international collaboration will require managers to have the right skills to lead teams to work successfully across cultures.
“Such skills include having an ability to perceive cultural sensitivities and build and manage teams accordingly, as well as create working environments that help engender mutual awareness of, and respect for, cultural differences and alternative behavioural norms,” the report concluded.