Taking first a look back at 2016, it was a year which will change the face of Europe and the UK. The Government was unrecognisable in the second half of the year from the one that launched us into the start of it. The lack of visibility in such a tumultuous political landscape, apparently, left many sectors undecided about investment and therefore in a state of uncertain stagnation.
Only it wasn’t like that. Maybe not every engineering post was filled, possibly not every new bit of kit that could have been bought was purchased, and not every contract that was on the agenda was put out to tender, but, as is the norm, the engineering community continued about its business as usual. Unless the rug is pulled from under the economy, as it was in 2008, there seems to be an inherent stability in the engineering sector.
Possibly this has much to do with the nature of engineering projects. Certainly time to market is important, but the end projects are typically long term. Any means of transport, medical device or piece of industrial machinery has a product lifecycle going into decades, and this awareness of the long term can reduce short term problems to the inconsequential.
Having said all of that, it will certainly do no harm if our position in Europe is resolved swiftly, and so it would be on a wish list for 2017. And perhaps progress on some of the big engineering projects – HS2/3, another London runway perhaps a further Thames crossing – would be on that list too. Endless consultations, appeals and enquiries does not, in my book, count as progress. As a magazine we do not delve into the world of civil engineering much but the draw through into all engineering disciplines from these big infrastructure projects is immense.
So I anticipate that, like clockwork, the engineering design sector will continue to progress in its dependable way, but a bit of clarity on Europe and progress on big infrastructure projects would be a bonus.