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Comment les mégaprojets stimulés par les STEM façonnent-ils l’avenir ?

Les mégaprojets sont des monuments de l’ingéniosité humaine. Que nous disent les problèmes résolus par les mégaprojets les plus visionnaires du moment sur nos priorités collectives ?

Megaprojects are monuments to human ingenuity. These large-scale, transformational ventures enable modernity, connecting people and countries, powering cities and allowing us to peer deep into space at the origins of the universe.

Long after the pioneering minds behind megaprojects are gone, the structures endure, standing testament to the priorities of the societies that built them. The pyramids reach up to the heavens, the Great Wall of China stands sentry, Roman aqueducts stretch neatly from countryside to town.

Today, a megaproject is one that costs more than $1 billion and has a big impact on communities. They are pinboards for our hopes, often spearheaded by leaders wanting to create growth and draw investment and talent to a region.

They are also the source of innovation and problem-solving, galvanising STEM professionals around the challenges of the day.

So what problems are being solved by the most visionary megaprojects today, and what does that tells us about our collective priorities?

Defining green ways of life

When we build from scratch, it is an opportunity to redefine how we do things, unencumbered by the legacy of the past. Today’s megaprojects are attempting to set precedents for how society responds to climate change, arguably our most urgent challenge.

Neom, a visionary new economic area rising steadily out of the Saudi Arabian desert, is one example. The $500 billion megaproject is made up of four regions – The Line (a futuristic, mirror-clad city), Oxagon (a centre for advanced and clean industries), Trojena (a mountain tourist spot) and Sindalah (a luxury island resort).

The developers of The Line are targeting net zero for the project. But they are not just deploying well-established ideas, such as 100% renewable energy, greener production materials and carbon sequestration. They are thinking big with original engineering and design that seeks to establish a greener way of life.

The entire idea behind the city – which is to be laid out in a 170km line – is to enable sustainable transport. Whether you like the concept or not, it is a visionary statement about bending societal norms around the priorities of the day.

In an interview with Dezeen, Tarek Qaddumi, Neom’s Executive Director for Urban Planning said: “The Line will have no cars, no pollution and will provide access to people and services in ways previously unimaginable.”

Qaddumi went on to say that one of the megaproject’s objectives is to be a source of research, innovation and human capital around the future of everything. “We believe that everything around us deserves to be rethought in light of our aspiration for a better human life and a different attitude toward nature.”

That is an exciting brief for STEM talent, who tend to prioritise values-based work. SThree’s How the STEM World Evolves survey shows that 53% of STEM professionals would rather work with organisations that align with their personal values than earn a higher salary or rate.

Neom is drawing on an international pool of STEM professionals to make this level of innovation possible, and investing in technologies that could move the dial on sustainability.

Its investment in US-based electric seaglider company REGENT will expedite development of the latter’s technology. REGENT’s team of MIT-trained, ex-Boeing engineers has reimagined regional transport between coastal cities with its zero-emission, high-speed seagliders that are part boat, part aeroplane.

There are already more than 3,000 employees working on Neom from more than 90 countries.

However, while top talent may be drawn to Neom based on its sustainable vision, others may be put off by the controversies around human rights and the project’s full sustainability credentials.

But when Neom and The Line are complete, they will likely stand for generations as emblems of a greener conception of modernity and the power of international collaboration among STEM talent.

Pushing healthcare frontiers

Increasing computing and processing power is opening the door to a new era of healthcare, characterised by tech-enabled, precision solutions. From genomics to the microbiome, we are starting to understand health in a new level of detail.

Pioneering data scientists, technologists, life science professionals and mathematicians are trying to find answers in the complex datasets that are being built up in these fields, searching for breakthroughs that could transform health outcomes.

One megaproject has been designed with this in mind. Plans for the floating, ring-shaped Dogen City promise a smart healthcare facility that responds to climate change and is backed by powerful data architecture.

People living in Dogen City will be offered telemedicine and remote robotic surgery. Their health will be assessed through sensors, blood samples and genome analysis. Health professionals will combine this information with medical and genome data, leveraging the latest research to get a clearer picture of individuals’ health.

Alongside these healthcare facilities will be medical data research and development functions, including a DNA bank and drug discovery simulation.

This high-tech healthcare provision will be enabled by an undersea edge data centre.

Success of the project will rely on creating a cohesive team from industry, academia and government.

If Dogen City does become a reality, it will surely be a magnet for top talent looking to put their mark on the future of life sciences.

Digital firsts

As Dogen City’s edge computing capability shows, all megaprojects today involve an element of advanced technologies, designed to complement our data-driven lives.

Digital transformation has permeated most industries in advanced economies and continues apace with each new wave of technology. According to the Harvard Business Review, 89% of large companies globally have a digital and AI transformation underway.

Megaprojects integrate the latest technologies to bring them in line with this trend, both in their core functionality and in the build. This is increasing demand for tech talent across the board.

The construction of megaprojects is becoming increasingly digital, from the well-established building information modelling (BIM) to AI, which is evolving as the next frontier in traditional civil engineering.

Colin Inglis, EDF’s Digital Architecture Director, spoke about the digital transformation taking place at the Hinckley Point C nuclear power plant megaproject in the UK during an interview with Tech Informed. “You already have product lifecycle management systems that manage all the data and processes at every step of a product’s lifecycle in oil and gas, aerospace, defence… but that’s not the case in nuclear. So we’ve been constructing a first-of-a-kind model and moving from a document-centric to a data-centric model,” Inglis explained.

With technology cutting through every sector, top tech talent wanting to get involved in megaprojects with long-term legacies can take their pick. From Europe’s largest data centre that will enable data-driven economies, to the Trans-European Network for Energy that will interconnect the nations of Europe with smart electricity and gas grids, making supply more secure.

The STEM skills that will answer these megaproject briefs will come from international pools of collaborative professionals.

Whether today’s megaprojects will last as long as the pyramids, you and I will never know. But while they do stand, it will be as emblems of what STEM collaboration can achieve and of our collective priorities in the 21st century.

Bron: SThree

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SThree is a global staffing organisation providing specialist services in the STEM industries (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Our five specialist brands operating in Belgium, Computer Futures, Progressive, Huxley, Real Staffing and JP Gray, place professionals across IT, Engineering, Oil & Gas, Banking, Pharma and Supply Chain. Voir tous les articles de SThree