Every time I watch an Iron Man movie, I drool. Tony Stark sits there, interacting with a hologram of his designs, instructing Jarvis to make this change or that one before offhandedly sending it off to production. Tony’s time in engineering has been reduced to developing new concepts and telling his ‘assistant’ how to improve it.

In contrast, today’s engineers must feel more than a bit of angst. I know many who work up to 60 hours and week, staying late at night and coming in on the weekends. And a large percentage of that time is focused on paperwork, meetings and other non-design activities. Sitting in engineering school, I know very few classmates who were just waiting to fill out another form. Almost all of them want to design big and important products.

Would an artificial intelligence technology like Jarvis improve the way engineers design and make them more productive? Absolutely. But that’s not possible. Right?

Well, it’s not quite here yet, but it is far closer than you might think. It’s called generative design.