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Questions about Engineering?

  1. Nov 1, 2009 #1
    I'm don't know much about engineering jobs but I'd like to know whether engineers often fix stuff or design solutions to problems?

    For example, if an engine was broken or something was wrong with it, would a mechanical engineer be the one to fix it, or do majority of them design new engines?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 1, 2009 #2


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    Engineers design improvements in existing products, e.g., an engine, and also investigate failures. In fact, during development of a piece of equipment, components and the integrated equipment/machinery are tested to find weak points. These days, engineers use finite element simulation codes to simulate the operation of equipment and components.

    Of course, whether or not an engine failure is investigated depends on its commercial value or importance. Consumer products that fail are less likely to be investigated, but rather replaced, whereas an industrial product is very likely to be examined if it fails. There's often a significant liability associated with an industrial product/equipment.
  4. Nov 1, 2009 #3
    A car mechanic would fix that much faster and cheaper than an engineer.

    Engineers are relevant for the design process but they are not designing things, they are instead given a design with parameters that needs to be fulfilled and are then supposed to make it happen. Usually the requests are impossible so you need to be good at explaining to people why what they want is impossible and how you can fix that without ruining the whole deal.
  5. Nov 1, 2009 #4
    What do you mean engineers dont design things???? Of course they do. Where do you think the designs come from?
  6. Nov 1, 2009 #5
    Engineers don't design things since that is not their job, they are not educated on what people want, just how to make things. You don't make designs, you make all the behind work necessary to make others designs work.

    For example architects designs houses, then the structure and electrical engineers "designs" the parts necessary for the house to function as it should. As noted in this sentence it can also be called design but I want to point out that Engineers typically don't do the glorified work.

    Normally the marketing department is the ones coming with new designs since they are specialized in know what people wants.
  7. Nov 1, 2009 #6
    I find it very unlikely that architects or marketing people design engines, cars, jets, satellites, the shuttle.... Im quite certain its engineers that design those things.
  8. Nov 1, 2009 #7
    I couldn't agree more.
  9. Nov 1, 2009 #8
    Not satelites or shuttles (those are very rare exceptions), but yes everything you can see on cars, phones and such is not made by engineers but by designers. If you want to design cars you should be a car designer and not an engineer, for that you usually need a product/industrial design degree. Everything that is meant to be sold to the public usually is designed by designers.

    Read this for example, the main job for engineers is to make the designs work if possible or if not then give advice on what can be changed in order to make it work:
    http://www.cardesignnews.com/site/home/display/store4/item50380/ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Nov 1, 2009 #9


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    Not sure what people are thinking on here, but if you want to become an engineer, you will be designing a lot of systems.

    Design is a huge part of engineering. I've never met an engineer that takes a design from someone else and 'makes it work'.

    Klockan3 you are confusing the term 'design' with 'make it look good'.
  11. Nov 1, 2009 #10


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    Fix one engine? That's a mechanic's job (and they'll usually be faster / better at it than the engineer)

    Fix a design flaw in a million engines via a workaround? That's an engineer.

    Somehow avoid recalling those million engines? That's the job of your CEO / paid off member of government.
  12. Nov 1, 2009 #11
    I was just curious as to why so many people in this forum are against business. Everyone seems to think that every accountant cooks the books for the mafia and everyone that goes into business is immoral. Why so against it (not just MATLAB but lot of people in this fourm).

    Just an observation
    Sorry for the digression
  13. Nov 1, 2009 #12


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    That was just a sardonic comment, not a commentary upon business, business ethics, and the types that make up the upper echelons of management. I also don't presume to speak on behalf of the forum, especially since I play the role of the Fool here. I also didn't mention who'd be left dealing with the accounting problems of recalling those million engines, but there may or may not be any room for criminal enterprise to prevent the "voluntary recall" of those engines. Guess nobody wanted their engines fixed!

    Also, Corporate Psychopathy:

    When the Hare psychopathy checklist came out, the assumption was that it'd be used to weed out people. However, the possibility exists that it can be used to actually select for those having psychopathic traits...
  14. Nov 1, 2009 #13
    Definitely agree here.

    Also, I wouldn't consider it design when a marketing person goes to the engineers and says "The customer needs a product that completes task X." or " The customer doesn't like how this product completes task X."

    That is not design.
  15. Nov 1, 2009 #14
    In what sense of the word design are you guys using? As far as I know, at this moment, if I choose to I can go on to design propulsion systems, design aviation systems, design spacecraft systems ... also there is a little acronym that engineers commonly use: CAD which stands for computer aided design.

    If these systems are not designed by engineers, then by whom?
  16. Nov 1, 2009 #15
    I think differences in how we think of the word design is what is causing this whole argument in the first place.

    There are really different types of designs. People who major in design arts obviously design things but it is a very different type of design than what engineers do.
  17. Nov 2, 2009 #16
    But if he goes there and says "We want a product that looks like this, does these things and costs that much" then he designed the product, the engineers will then "design" the system to best fit the design goals and thus make the product be an actual product instead of a design concept.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2009
  18. Nov 2, 2009 #17
    Your view of design is very limited. While no one questions the importance of having a blue box with red letters, that is only one facet of design.

    Filling the box with something interesting is design as well.
  19. Nov 2, 2009 #18
    Another thing to note is that in general when people talk about engineers as engineers, they are talking about "design engineers." Design engineering is what anyone who deals with drawings or the creation of specifications is doing. This is what engineering departments do.


    The design engineer is distinguished from the designer/drafter by virtue of the fact that a design engineer takes care of the inner workings/engineering of a design. While industrial designers may create the visual parts of the deisgn. The design engineer usually works in a team of engineers and designers to designing the overall design and the most far reaching parts. He/she may work with industrial designers and marketing to develop the product concept and specifications He/she may direct the design effort from that point. Products are usually designed with input from a number of sources such as manufacturing, purchasing, tool making and packaging engineering.​

    Admittedly it's not Wikipedia's best piece of work, but you get the point. The designer/engineer designation also greatly depends on the industry. I've never met a designer for a gas turbine or jet engine.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2009
  20. Nov 2, 2009 #19
    Which is why I did use the word there as well, it is very important to make a distinction however which is what I tried to do.
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