graduate jobs

Engineering careers

Design Engineering

What makes design engineering unique?

Albert Einstein once said that “imagination is more important than knowledge.” If you choose a career in the design side of engineering, you’ll be putting this wonderful theory into action!

Well, not quite - but it’s certainly useful to having a good mix of the two. Of course, you’ll need a good knowledge of engineering to succeed, but you’ll also need to have absolute bags and bags of imagination, innovation and creativity.

Understandably, these guys are specialist engineers that spend all their time designing complex products, machinery, equipment and mechanical systems for all kinds of purposes. You’ll use creative thinking, technical knowledge and personal innovation throughout your working life.

They also use their expert design skills to make alterations to existing devices, gadgets and pieces of equipment in order to improve their functionality. For instance, they may tweak the designs of a specific car engine to make it more energy efficient.

What makes a good design engineer?

As far as skills are concerned, you’ve probably already guessed that you’ll need to have an acute eye-for-detail, as well as bags of patience. New product designs take time and you’ll need to be an absolute perfectionist.

Sure, creativity is a bonus, but design engineers would be absolutely nowhere without their in-depth knowledge and mastery of computer-aided design (CAD) software. After all, these guys are technical gurus, not fine artists. They need to have a logical brain and an expert knowledge of science, maths and engineering principles.

Understandably, a relevant engineering degree, such as mechanical engineering or design engineering, will provide you with all the skills and knowledge that you’ll need to succeed. You’ll even get the chance to hone your CAD skills to a very high standard. However, a degree is by no means essential. You can certainly pick up appropriate design engineering skills through apprenticeships and vocational qualifications too.

The life of a design engineer...

If you pursue a career as a design engineer, you might spend your time conducting research and conjuring up innovative ideas. However, often this will be left to the research and development departments.

Consequently, the majority of your time will be spent actually designing things based on your client’s requirements. You’ll be converting ideas and hair-brained schemes into detailed, technical designs using CAD or CAE (computer-aided engineering) tools. It’s very rare that you’ll be sketching things using a pencil and a piece of paper. It’s all about using high-tech computer programmes these days!

Hopefully your meticulously detailed designs will translate into components and contraptions which function effectively and meet your client’s demands. If not, then it’s back to the drawing board. You’ll be tweaking things, recalculating little bits and redesigning entire sections until everything has been sufficiently, tested, modified and refined.

Designing a new product or redesigning something that already exists doesn’t happen overnight. It involves hours, weeks and months of adjustments and alterations before it can be used in the big, wide world.

Everything considered, this would be a fascinating and immensely satisfying career path to go down if you have the necessary head for technology and engineering, with more than a dash of creativity. If that sums you up, then a career in design engineering may be exactly what you’re looking for. Why not head on over to our list of design jobs to see if any are particularly appealing to you?