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Do mechanical engineers design a lot?

Well I am about to go into the 11th grade and I believe that I have my mind set on the career that I am going into but one thing that I may want to know is what are the best steps in becoming a successful mechanical engineer and what other jobs may be somewhat similar so that I could put in the my thoughts to widen my job spectrum? mechanical engineer mechanical-engineering

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Timothy’s Answer

The amount of design work you may or may not do has a lot to do with the area of focus you choose (initially established by the coursework you pursue in college) and the company/role you work in. Mechanical engineering is a very broad field. The great part about it is that you can choose from a wide variety of sub-disciplines and career paths. To make it clear with an example, I was interested in and studied loads and vibration while in college. The first job I took was within this area of interest and my role was more involved with data analysis and computer programming. After some time, I decided to change course and pursue a product development job. This role had significant design responsibilities, but also had other facets to it as mentioned in the other responses to this thread. Bottom line is that you have a lot of control in what you do and don't do for the core responsibilities of your job. Find out through your schooling if design is something that you really enjoy or if there are other sub-disciplines that are of more interest (e.g. test, analysis, research, manufacturing/operations etc).
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Tyler’s Answer

Mechanical engineering can get you into a lot of different fields. It is a very broad field it just depends on how you want to focus your studies. If you like to design new products and devices you will have a lot of choices as well. Most of the products you use daily are designed and engineered by mechanical engineers.

As for career options that involve a lot of design work look into the following fields: medical, automotive, consumer electronics, robots, heavy equipment, defense industry and aerospace are few examples.

In order to become successful you need to be passionate about the field that you choose. This passion for learning and advancing the field is what will make you successful. So choose a field that you like and focus your studies around that field.

Tyler recommends the following next steps:

Take math, physics, CAD design classes before college
Pick a engineering discipline to major in
Look for opportunities to job shadow, this will help you see what is done on the job
Look for internships or research opportunities in college
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Asif’s Answer

It depends on the role you are choosing. It's very vague nowadays. If you are some sort of "design engineer" you will most likely be doing a lot of CAD work. Analysis is up in the air. If the company is large (Boeing for example) you are doing CAD work mostly and someone else is an analysis engineer. If you're a project engineer you're mostly in charge of the project and ensuring it's on schedule and budget. If you are a "development" engineer you are free form role. Both design, analysis, research, and etc. As a fresh engineer development role is my best recommendation for what you should look for it gives you a great breathe of knowledge.

Designing is a basic necessity for mechanical engineers though, knowledge of CAD tools and design concepts is minimum for most roles. Even if you aren't designing and simply project managing, it's important to know the process.

Asif recommends the following next steps:

Learn different CAD skills
Learn FEA software if you get the chance
Look for internships in an R&D environemnt
During internships/Entry-Level roles ask for a broad role and experience with tools to develop your skills
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Glenn S.’s Answer

You got some great answers. I have been in design roles for my entire career. There are specialist at some companies that just live on CAD doing design work. This may include surfacing or Analysis work.

As a junior engineer, I did a lot more hands on design. As a lead engineer, it was more working on critical areas of the design, doing research to make the best design decisions. For me, I was involved from early concept to production release. In some companies, we supported the product into sustaining to end of product life. Concept phase is to determine what is possible, cost, lead time, size and shape. Development stage is more about doing part and assembly design of what goes into production. Tooling phase is working with the people who build the equipment used to produce your parts. There are pilot builds, and product start. The design engineer is usually involved in all of these aspects of the project.

It is your call if this is design. But the better you understand the entire process, the better decisions you will make in the concept and development phases.

If you work for a design consulting firm, you tend to only do the front end work and rarely see your products into production.

Glenn S. recommends the following next steps:

Learn CAD, preferably solid modeling.
Learn analysis tool for FEA, CFD, Mold Flow, Etc
Intern when you are in college
Take project classes to work on design and try to take a lead role
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Jeff’s Answer

To answer your question, yes we do design a lot. Sometimes we have ideas on our own and sometimes we have ideas from someone else in the company. Either way, there is a lot more than just designing. We spend just about as much time on documentation as we do design work, or as I call it "the fun stuff". Depending on the company, there could be a mountain of paperwork for just a simple design. There are quotes you sometimes need to get to see if you are on track for cost, there are what we call an ECN (Engineering Change Notice) that will be needed to make a revision on a product or part, there are what we call a PPAP (Purchase Part Approval Process) which you will have to approve deviations on, there are also BOMs (Bill of Material) which you will need to create in order to have your product built (it's the parts that make it). You will have to do your research to determine what components are available and will handle what you are expecting them to do. The list goes on.

But no matter what jobs are similar, you will likely need a degree in mechanical engineering to pursue them. Like a sales engineer, applications engineer, project engineer, product engineer. I'm sure you can do a search on the internet and it will provide you with various engineering opportunities.

Jeff recommends the following next steps:

If you decide to pursue mechanical engineering tho, I would suggest learning different modeling and CAD software such as Solidworks and AutoCAD. Software companies offer free packages to students. You just need a student email address.
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Paul’s Answer

It depends on the position you hold.

Engineering, especially Mechanical Engineering, is a very broad area of study and can be an entree into many different careers. I know some that have gone into manufacturing or industrial engineering and never "design" anything. I know one engineer that has made a career designing finite elements. THAT is a specialty that is 100% design.

Add to that the fact that "a lot" is in itself a fuzzy threshold. I have a coworker that is overwhelmed by design projects that I consider trivial. His talents lay elsewhere. The point is I'm sure his "a lot" is a different amount of effort than my "a lot". Even that changes when you consider that when you get to work that is in his wheelhouse instead of mine and the balance swings the other way.
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