How do I Become a Design Engineer?

Elva K.

Design engineers develop design plans for various types of things, such as medical devices, cars, phones, computer systems, and communications. The work involves reading engineering articles, conferencing with other engineers, analyzing test information, and helping to develop project goals. It also includes using computers to generate designs on a computer screen, calculating, analyzing models, making modifications, conferring with the project manager, and making products in such a way that the products are safe and cost-effective. If you aspire to become a design engineer, generally you will have to get an undergraduate and a post-graduate degree and some experience in the field.

Design engineers develop design plans for various types of things, such as medical devices, cars, phones, computer systems, and communications.
Design engineers develop design plans for various types of things, such as medical devices, cars, phones, computer systems, and communications.

Getting a bachelor's degree in engineering is generally recommended if you aspire to become a design engineer. You could specialize in areas within engineering such as material science, electrical engineering, or civil engineering. Your college courses will give you the skills you need when you get a job after college.

To become a design engineer a student often needs a bachelor's degree in engineering.
To become a design engineer a student often needs a bachelor's degree in engineering.

Doing a college internship in design engineering can be helpful. This will supplement your classroom learning experiences, but also enable you to get real-world experience that will help you find out if a career in this field is truly a fit for you as an individual. This job requires both the ability to work alone and in a team, so if you are a person who does not feel comfortable talking with other engineers or working as part of a team, this career may not be for you.

Design engineers in most industries must remain focused on staying within project budgets.
Design engineers in most industries must remain focused on staying within project budgets.

You will likely seek your first job during the last semester of college, although you can choose to continue and get a graduate degree. Although it is not necessarily required, getting a graduate degree in engineering can make you more competitive in the job market because many entry-level engineers do not have graduate-level education. The master of science (MS) degree or the doctor of philosophy (PhD) in engineering are generally recommended.

Having good problem solving and three-dimensional visualization skills are important to become a design engineer.
Having good problem solving and three-dimensional visualization skills are important to become a design engineer.

If you hope to become a design engineer, having good problem solving and three-dimensional visualization skills is helpful. Having good comprehension of math, physics, computer design software, and machinery is also important for the job. Being able to work patiently under stressful conditions and having awareness of how new products are likely to impact the environment are both important skills to have as well.

Most design engineers begin their careers with entry level jobs in their chosen field.
Most design engineers begin their careers with entry level jobs in their chosen field.
Design engineers interpret blueprints when constructing buildings.
Design engineers interpret blueprints when constructing buildings.
Three-dimensional visualization skills are helpful in becoming a design engineer.
Three-dimensional visualization skills are helpful in becoming a design engineer.
Design engineers may work on projects from inception through completion in order to make any design modifications that become necessary.
Design engineers may work on projects from inception through completion in order to make any design modifications that become necessary.
An aspiring design engineer should have skills in math.
An aspiring design engineer should have skills in math.

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Discussion Comments

anon289200

I've just scored a traineeship as a design engineer at Schaeffler. I have A level maths, physics and computing and also an HND in mechanical design. I scouted the internet and applied for a few different positions and to my surprise I was quite popular. I had offers from Calsonic Kensi, Tata Steel and other worldwide companies. Just learn the relevant fields.

anon243059

I am currently at school levels in year 11 and am wondering what are the best courses to take at college and uni for this. Please help!

hamje32

@Mammmood - I think that you hit the nail on the head. Usability is a big concern. For me, the difference between buying one device over another (here of course I am discussing consumer electronics) is all about usability.

Two devices may be functionally similar, but they are not as easy to manipulate. I have to believe, based on this, that usability is a big part of design engineering.

If you want my opinion, the device that "wins out" so to speak in the marketplace is one that reflects users' inputs and concerns. This feedback is then sent back to the design team to help improve the product.

Mammmood

I am not an engineer but I am a programmer. One of the things that we in the software industry concern ourselves with is usability.

I wonder if design engineering would have something similar to that. By usability, we mean how user friendly the interface is. You hear the term “user friendly interfaces” a lot in the software world, but I think even with hardware you have to build things in a way that is user friendly.

Often when I read a review of a device of some sort the reviewer will talk about the usability aspects of the device; for instance, are the buttons in the right place, are they accessible and so forth?

I would think that some courses in design engineering would address these concerns.

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