What Does a Hardware Design Engineer Do?

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  • Written By: Nick Mann
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2020
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It's the job of a hardware design engineer to develop, test and create hardware systems, such as computer processing units. To be successful in this field, it helps for an individual to have a creative mindset and the ability to work within a development team. While the specific types of hardware that a hardware design engineer works on can differ, his primary job duties are generally similar. These duties include identifying hardware needs, collaborating with a development team, developing product drawings, creating a product prototype and demonstrating how to use products.

Identifying specific hardware needs is typically the first step that a hardware design engineer must take before ever developing a product. This usually involves performing some preliminary research to pinpoint exactly what needs the hardware should fulfill. Determining these needs will often depend upon who will be using it. For example, a hardware design engineer might create one product that's designed for average consumers and a completely different product that's designed for a scientific laboratory. Knowing the user demographic is essential for creating a useful product.

The next phase of most projects involves a hardware design engineer collaborating with a development team. During this time, he will work with the team to determine the specifics of the hardware and work out any kinks. Once everyone is in agreement, the creation process can begin.


Developing some initial product drawings is usually the first step that must be taken when designing a product. In most cases, a hardware design engineer will draw out some rough sketches on paper to begin. Afterward, he will implement a computer-aided design program to create a more detailed drawing that focuses on specifics.

Once a detailed drawing has been completed, a hardware design engineer will create a product prototype. This is the stage where he develops a working model of a product and makes any necessary alterations. If there are any glitches, it's his responsibility to make modifications to address those issues. Before hardware can begin manufacturing, it's important for a hardware design engineer to solve any issues and create a flawless prototype. Once this is achieved, the actual manufacturing process will begin.

After a final product has been manufactured, a hardware design engineer is often responsible for demonstrating how to use the product. Since he is the utmost authority on the product, it's up to him to share his knowledge with others. This might include creating an instruction manual that explains every aspect of the product. In addition, he will typically create a troubleshooting guide in case users experience any problems.


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