While going through the new syllabus of Mechanical Engineering updated by University (AKTU), I was surprised to see the verticals of Elective subjects and introduction of some unique laboratory classes in third year. Internet of Things (IoT) lab was introduced for the first time in Mechanical Engineering curriculum. Obviously it made me to think how IoT is going to affect Mechanical engineering in coming future.
Let us first understand what IoT is? Most of us know that internet is connected to our smart phones, laptops and desktops. But the question arises whether other things can be connected or not? Yes off course we can connect large number of things with internet for some or the other benefit. That is the concept of IoT. “IoT” is about extending the power of the internet beyond computers and smart phones to a whole range of other things, processes, and environments. Now question arise why we are connecting things with internet. Let us understand by an example of railway reservations of thirty year back and that of today. Earlier there was manual booking and no one knew the status of seat availability. We had to go to reservation counter and had to ask if any seat was available. But today we can have real time information about seat availability in any of the trains. Now imagine, a sensor is installed on every seat than we can also know whether a passenger has boarded in the train or not i.e. seat is still vacant and this information can be used for real time reservations during the journey as well thus increasing the profitability of Indian Rail and can be a very helpful tool in reducing corruption during the journey in the trains. Hence we are connecting things and these are used to gather information, send information back, or both.
I personally feel every industry will be affected by IoT opportunities whether it is manufacturing unit, processing unit, logistics, supply chain, aviation, tourism, real state, home automation, cold chain, agriculture, infrastructure, cold storages, Energy management, Thermal power, wind power, solar power, cars, farm machinery or any other industry. Factories of future are going to be smart. Mechanical engineers will find a great scope in developing hardware which can operate in more challenging conditions-e.g. Factory floors, outdoor fields, mines, ships, submarines, satellites, missiles etc. It is to be ensured that seamless interaction between hardware is maintained all through. Just remember ISRO could not fulfill the dream (Mangalyan launch) as interaction between hardware was broken at the end.
From the point of view of mechanical engineers IoT will find wide use in manufacturing, automated guided vehicles, future cars, driverless vehicles, war weapons, military tanks, submarines, shop floor augmented reality and smart (digital) factories with enhanced operational performance. Technology and innovations are game changer for companies in today’s time. Tesla Motors Inc. an American electric vehicle and clean energy company founded in July, 2003 has become world’s most valuable (By market capital) car company beating Toyota in 2020.