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What Does a Product Engineer Do?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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A product engineer has the job of designing and improving existing products. A person in this position typically works to create products that are useful and marketable. He often works as part of a team that may include other engineers and designers as well as teams of people who are in charge of marketing and sales. In many cases, a person who pursues this career is also responsible for the production and testing of new products. In fact, he may even play a role in their maintenance.

An individual who works as a product engineer is often responsible for analyzing design details, design and engineering processes, and production processes. He may use a range of testing programs and methods in order to help with the design, manufacture, and improvement of products. He may provide support for team members and help with plan coordination. When problems arise, he may also work with a failure analysis team to determine what went wrong.

A product engineer may also work on monitoring process and production data. In many cases, a person with this title is also responsible for managing product reliability and improving product yield. Additionally, the engineer may prepare a range of documentation, including technical reports and instructions.

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Often, a product engineer is called on not only to interact with other engineers, manufacturers, and sales teams, but also to attend meetings with customers and suppliers. In fact, he may even conduct some of these meetings himself. In many cases, the engineer will even communicate with sales personnel for the purpose of finding solutions to customer complaints and problems.

An individual who works as a product engineer typically needs good communication skills as well as leadership ability. He may be called on to exercise his problem-solving ability on a regular basis, so an analytical mind may prove helpful as well. Additionally, a person with this title may be required to work closely with others, so the ability to work well as part of a team is typically an important trait.

The requirements a person has to meet to become a product engineer may depend on the particular needs and preferences of potential employers in his area. Many employers, however, require new hires to hold a bachelor’s degree in an engineering field. Individuals who have technical or design backgrounds may find it easier to be successful in this career. Even marketing ability may be a desirable quality in a person pursuing this career.

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anon990008
Post 5

Are all product engineers male?

NathanG
Post 4

@everetra - I’d love to be a product engineer myself. I’m not so much interested in coming up with the new products; I don’t know how creative I am in that respect.

But I would very much be interested in testing and maintaining existing products. According to the article that is part of what the product engineer does.

I can see myself spending all day running a blender, testing a toaster oven, sleeping on a new pillow designed to ease neck tension, or playing a new online game, and writing the results in a report and making recommendations for improvements.

With this kind of a job no two days would be the same.

everetra
Post 3

@MrMoody - I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had an idea for an invention of some sort, failed to act on it, and within years or even months, I’d see that invention as a new product on a TV infomercial.

I then kick myself and say, “I could have done that” (and made money to boot). I think it’s clear that the same ideas for new products may come to more than one person or company. The thing that matters is execution time.

How quickly can the product engineer visualize the product, communicate it with his team, have the company put it together and be first to market? That’s really what matters.

I realize that as an inventor you can claim to have a “patent pending” on a concept or product, but you can’t really prove that someone else didn’t have the same idea. You just have to be first to market.

MrMoody
Post 2

@Mammmood - You make a very good observation. I agree that both the inventor and product engineer are similar, however the inventor does not necessarily need a degree in engineering; unless of course that is his field of specialty.

I also view the product engineer as someone who likes to collaborate on a team to come up with new ideas, and from what the article says, the new product doesn’t have to be a product per se, it can also be a process.

Both the product engineer and inventor have to anticipate what buyers would want however. They have to see a need and fill it.

Mammmood
Post 1

I think that the world will always need people who can build a better mousetrap. What I wonder is what determines whether someone becomes an inventor, or a product engineer.

I happen to think that both require the same skill set, and penchant for creativity. The inventor is always looking for a way to build something new, or improve upon something that already exists, in order to better our lives.

The product engineer is doing the same thing. In my mind however, I see the inventor as someone working alone, working for many hours in isolation, like Edison testing those first light bulbs.

I realize that this may not be an accurate description of how people work today; there is a lot of interaction with other people when new ideas are brought to the scene. I still have that image in my mind though.

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