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Are Engineers Designing Their Robotic Replacements?

The profession could be putting itself out of work

2 min read
Are Engineers Designing Their Robotic Replacements?
Illustration: Greg Mably

“The robots are coming for your jobs!” That was the gist of numerous news reports following the release of the 2016 U.S. Economic Report of the President. My first thought on reading this was that anyone who saw the videos of clumsy robots falling helplessly during the recent DARPA Robotics Challenge must have been incredulous: “That’s what’s coming after my job!?”

My second thought was more sobering. Robots are, after all, only a subset of the computerization leading to the automation of traditional jobs. As engineers we can see steady progress in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data. Contemplating this, it suddenly occurred to me to worry about engineering jobs. Are they threatened as well?

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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