The Economic Effects on Engineering

The COVID-19 has impacted not just the health of people, but the health of engineering and manufacturing companies, from extreme unemployment to alterations in production.

Introduction

The manufacturing sector in the US has undergone massive transformation and developments, especially during times of crisis. This includes the World Wars, the nuclear and space races during the Cold War, the Information Era (and emergence of computers), and the COVID-19 pandemic of the early 2020s. These events can result in not only industry-wide developments, but also internal developments as well. How companies respond to crises such as the present one, COVID-19, can be seen in different facets of the engineering and manufacturing industries. Developments include changes in product demands, company revenue, national employment, and other aspects related to production and economy. How companies respond to crises such as the present one, COVID-19, can be seen in different facets of the engineering and manufacturing industries. Developments include changes in product demands, company revenue, national employment, and other aspects related to production and economy.

Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US was placed under quarantine, reducing physical contact and thus the need for in-person activities. This prompted many jobs in the digital industries to increase in demand.

Even at the beginning of the pandemic in the US, jobs related to software engineering and programming have increased in openings. “.NET Developers” experienced a 12% increase in job posts, with cybersecurity engineers experiencing a 20% increase in job posts.

The changes in the social and economic structures experienced by the US have also come with concerns and doubts regarding the operations of industries during the pandemic. The National Association of Manufacturers found that some of the top concerns included “potential global recession” and “financial impact.”

Changing Economic Status of Companies

Throughout the “lifetime” of an engineering company, the company will experience many “ups” and “downs” regarding financial and economic stability. Often, crises like the COVID-19 pandemic will result in a sharp imbalance in that stability. One example can be found in software engineering. The increased demand and use of computer software have pushed progress to be made. Another example is found in the production company, Honeywell.

As indicated in the graph, Honeywell experienced a decrease in its value in the late spring and early summer of 2020. At this time, the nation was first experiencing the changes due to the pandemic.

National Unemployment

In addition to changing the economic position for a particular engineering group, there can be large changes on national levels of the economy. Take for example the national employment. As the demands in different products changed, the input, in the form of labor, changed with it: the less a product was demanded, the fewer workers were needed to create it.

As seen in the graph, unemployment rates for architectural and engineering jobs were higher during the pandemic, when manufactured products and engineering were less needed. This change has not only made it hard for the individuals who were unable to maintain their jobs but for the companies whose production and revenue output was not to their potential.

New Manufactured products

Global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic have also prompted some production industries to create equipment and products to assist in the crisis. Some of these products include facial masks, ventilators, and plexiglass, which are commonly being used for protective measures during the pandemic.

In addition to a greater demand for items like facial masks, there have also been some specific demands that have required alteration of these masks. One example can be found in the Clear Mask, which was designed by undergraduate students at the Johns Hopkins University. Because some employees and workers are deaf, being unable to read lips while talking has greatly inhibited communication. Alterations such as these in type of material and the shape of masks has reflected changes in how the manufacturing industry is responding the the pandemic-related demands..

The specific demands and changes for facial masks required that manufacturers calculate different geometric and spatial alterations to the mask. This included extruding the front as seen in the image to the left, or forming triangular structures as seen below. Creating structures like triangles provides mask structure while providing room to speak clearly.