How involved are Mechanical Engineers involved in the production process of a new design?
on top of Shoshana's answer (and also to exemplify it), let me add a little of my experience... Nowadays, I'm not directly working in the field, but just after graduating, I was working as Product Engineer for an Automotive company. There, my division was responsible for the development and adjust of alternators for the cars/trucks. We had to, based on the vehicle needs, develop (or adapt) new components - that includes the physical shape measurements to fit into the space as well as that the product could then generate the output needed. So far, it was only calculations and "computer design"; then, once we had the alignment that the design was good, there was a need for proving it - and here, i guess, is the hands on you look for.... This part consisted in making sure the materials were the proper ones, test them, make prototypes, support the production process, coordinate the tests, field tests with the final customer (maker of the vehicle) and, in some cases, post support to adjust components due to defects/recalls etc
All this "hands on" portion took ~70% of my time as engineer.
Of course, this was one example, but to answer your question, yes there is a possibility to be a mechanical engineer and support the end-to-end design process.
Great question. The answer is that it depends on your role. As an ME you could do any of the following:
- Design for a consulting firm and not be very involved in the production process, but you need to know it well enough to design for it.
- Work in design for the company that sell the product. They may use in house manufacturing or Contract Manufacturing. You would generally support the production line during the pilot builds.
- NPI (New Product Introduction) engineers are responsible to transfer the design from the R&D group to the Production. This role is involved with both the design team and the production team.
- Manufacturing engineers are more focused on the production side, but give input to the R&D team in the form of design for manufacturing.
I hope this helps.
Mechanical engineering is an amazing field. There is no one answer on how hands on or off you would be in a production environment. This is something that will depend in large part on the product itself, and the go to market strategy of the company. These would be things you should research when looking for employers and a great question to ask in a mentoring /interview setting.