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Comment | Your chance to be part of the future

The silly season is upon us as the summer months see regular policy announcements slow down and more obscure stories dominate headlines in all the media.

But silly can sometimes not only be amusing but can actually be rather useful – even in the world of engineering.

That’s the thought that kept leaping to mind when I went to the opening of a new exhibition at the Building Centre in central London late last month.

Drawn to the Future juxtaposes the seemingly frivolous and too obvious crude comparison to engineering that is encompassed by the global gaming phenomenon Minecraft with the latest interactive fly-through of the engineering challenges of High Speed 2 between London and Birmingham. What it does really well is expose the nuances that link the two.

It’s all done in a way that appeals to passers-by of all ages and levels of interest, as well as those who work in heart of the world of infrastructure and built environment engineering.

There are virtual reality pods and building information models that feel useful at a detailed engineering and planning level and look inviting to outsiders.

And the best thing about the exhibits is how it does the job of communicating the challenge facing engineers in a brilliantly broad and accessible way using the latest technology.

How engineers use technology to increase their power to design and build increasingly complex and fit for purpose infrastructure is of growing importance to us at NCE, as it simultaneously becomes increasingly important to the industry.

Technology now has the added power of being able to demonstrate to the wider world – clients, planners, supply chain colleagues and hopefully a new generation of soon to be engineers – what your complicated technical abilities can accomplish.

These two equally important motivations are what prompted NCE’s launch of a new event called the Future Technology Forum, taking place on 1 October at the appropriately innovative Crystal building in east London.

We’re exploring all the emerging and future technologies that can inform and increase engineers’ abilities to meet the challenges of here and now but also of a changing, urbanising world.

And while we love our more traditional conferences, this will not only have a rather different venue but we hope to create a dynamically different feel inside too – with tech zones, TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) style talks, a design competition, big data, smart materials, automation and industrialisation all being presented to entertain innovators, technology leaders and the industry. We really hope you can come along.

  • Alexandra Wynne is NCE’s deputy editor. Mark Hansford is away

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