Engineering Fields With The Most Potential For Innovative Development

I recently received the following email (edited for clarity):

Recently I came across your blog and I found it quite constructive. I would like your opinion about which engineering disciplines  you perceive to be most linked with future technologies. I mean, which specialization seems to exhibit the most potential for innovation in the future. I am considering studying either naval architecture or  marine engineering. Although these fields covers a lot of engineering modules,  I just don’t think that there is no enough space for innovation in (comparing to automotive or aerospace). What do you think?

Here was my response:

I’m glad you have my website useful. Thanks for the feedback. At the moment, I would think that automotive has the most potential for break through innovation. The industry is at the crossroads of better communication (smartphone interfacing, city wide wifi, touch screen everything), better gas mileage (which WILL require some major innovation in weight savings as well as battery improvements), and consumer safety (crash avoidance). And look at what they are doing with self-driving automobiles. Here in Michigan, we are testing self driving fleets on the highway with remarkable success. Then again, automotive is a consumer product so we know what is happening their. Major innovations in the marine and aerospace are likely to occur in government (military) applications, so they will be classified and not visible to the public. But, hey, look at SpaceX. Private shuttles in space. Who knows where that will take the industry?