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How to become a Design Engineer?

  1. Oct 24, 2012 #1
    Hi all! I am happy to find this very informative forum!

    I have graduated with a degree in Production Engineering and Management and I am interested to gain more knowledge in CAD and work as a Design Engineer.
    While in University I had a CAD course where I learned to use Pro/E, but that's all.

    The question is 'How can I master my skills, and what certificate or degree do I need so to be a competitive design engineer?'
    I have seen that the leaders in the industry provide training courses on Solidworks, Pro/E, Inventor, CATIA, etc... however these courses are extremely expensive and last only a few days...
    On the other hand universities offer masters on design engineering, but most of the times are more theoretical than practical.
    What are the skills the employers ask for, how can I develop these skills and what kind of certificates are good for my CV?

    Thanks in advace!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2012 #2
    I'm a design engineer, all I have is a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering. No design related certificates at all. They just shoved me into a position and went, here, learn this yourself... Learning Inventor by yourself is a pretty daunting task, but hooray for youtube is all I can say.

    In terms of courses, I've never had an interviewer even ask me about anything I've done. All they seem to care about is that you have a degree and the behavioural balony. I think the best thing to do is just play around with a program yourself and do some tutorials. That way you can say you've used it before. Although, getting your hands on one is extremely expensive or illegal.
  4. Oct 24, 2012 #3
    Thanks for the quick reply Vadar2012! Did they shove you into that position straight away?
    Yes, I know that tutorials are a major help, I have used this method many times for various software and I find it really helpful!
    But I find it kind of hard to apply as a CAD designer or a draughtsman without having any certificates to prove that, or at least a portfolio.
    It's a tough market nowadays...
  5. Oct 24, 2012 #4
    I believe you can get Inventor for free with a student email address. Also, tryout Fusion too. My story is somewhat similar to Vadars.
  6. Oct 24, 2012 #5
    Yeah, my first job was designing things with Inventor and Strand7 (FEA program). Noone taught me anything it was 100% by myself. It was ok since I had done a lot of CAD and Strand7 at uni, but it would of been scary otherwise.

    I've asked comapnies about what courses they'd recommend at interviews, to seem interested in improving my skills in that area. They always say they don't care about that... and get you talking about what you did during your degree in this area.

    On another note, I didn't even know you could do a specific degree in production engineering...
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
  7. Oct 25, 2012 #6
    I had no formal CAD training, I just taught myself, did some personal projects designing an engine and a racing car and used those to show prospective employers that I could use CAD to a decent level. Got the first job I went for.

    Four years in and I've still had no training, just teaching myself on the job. :)
  8. Oct 25, 2012 #7


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    And people wonder why "engineering" has a problem begin taken seriously as a profession - or why so much work gets outsourced to the "third world"!

    Not to mention that fact that "CAD monkey" ##\ne## "design engineer" (or at least, they shouldn't be equal).
  9. Oct 25, 2012 #8
    To be fair, Aleph, there is a difference between an unlicensed designer and a practicing professional engineer...
  10. Oct 25, 2012 #9
    Given the amount of pressure on them to cut costs, can you really blame them for putting us through that. It's tough, but engineers are smart and very adaptable, it's a good test of your abilities if you ask me.

    Also yeah, I'd rather be taught exactly how they wanted me to do things instead of me just making it up, but what can you do...
  11. Oct 26, 2012 #10
    Thanks guys for your replies!

    Ok, thats another point of view... so what do you recommend Aleph?

    What is the difference? Could you be more specific please?

    Would be interesting to read more opinions and points of view! Share your stories guys!
  12. Oct 26, 2012 #11
    I don't tout myself as a design engineer, I'm a draughtsman. You don't need training/qualifications in CAD to be a draughtsman, so if you're a qualified engineer I would assume you do not need any additional CAD training to be a 'design engineer' (whatever that actually is) provided you can use it to a competent level.
  13. Oct 27, 2012 #12
    You should have some experience with AutoCad as a minimum. You should also be familiar with at least one modelling program (Inventor, Solidworks...) and at least one FE program. If you know one of each of the above, you can always learn a new one relatively easy.

    However, I think it's far more important to have mechanical aptitude and hands-on skills than mastering all the software packages out there. Learn how to weld, machine, braze, solder, wirewrap or do whatever is relevant to what you're designing. In design engineering, practicality is just as important as the theory you learned in school. The software is just another tool in your chest.
  14. Oct 30, 2012 #13
    Hi guys, well I am actually a design engineer.
    ptrpan: The difference between a designer and a practicing pro engineer is that a designer/draughtsman is responsible for modeling 3d models of what needs to be build and produce drawings for that, you can not call this a design engineer.

    My personal experience: I have been working for 3 years now, as it is I am a South African, so there are not too many guys here with the actual skill set to be engineers, I got sent to the designing department straight after finishing my mechanical engineering degree at varsity, and they told me to start designing, haha.

    My first year I spent mostly doing draughtman work. I then registered as a candidate professional engineer, after which I have to complete reports on all work I do for 3 years before they assess the final big report to be qualified to write designs off.

    My current work intails that I do most of the calculations on any mechanical part to ensure it is adequate to do the job and then I model the part and run an FEA on the part and write a report on it. It goes from choosing the correct material to use as a float in an air valve to calculating the Cv values from tests for example a nozzle check valve, to designing the springs for the valve to open and close at certain speeds. This sounds fascinating and rest assure, it is awesome and very satisfying work, but it intales a lot more than just being a pro engineering specialists which we have 8 draughtsman for.

    So all in all I think you should go for it and if you like designing mechanical parts from scratch, and with that I mean calculating strengths and choosing the material and modeling, this is definitely the right way to go.

    Hope I got the difference between the two accross well... haha, english is not my first langauge.
  15. Nov 21, 2012 #14
    Thanks for the advice guys!
    Seems like personal training is needed to improve skills in this field...
    At the moment I am looking for a decent laptop (thread here) to begin...
    Any suggestions at a reasonable price?
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