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What does an applications engineer do?

I've heard mention of the job title "applications engineer" at an optics conference I attended recently. It seems like they work with customers to develop a product based on the customer's specifications. I'm interested in science communication and hands-on physics / engineering. Is this the kind of job for me? I'll complete my undergraduate degree in physics this spring.

#physics #lasers #photonics #applications-engineer #engineering #science #science-communication #optics

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Douglas’s Answer

Hi,
In my experience, an Applications Engineer is an engineer (electrical, mechanical civil , etc.) that works with a potential customer to determine that the product that the potential customer is evaluating will suite his needs or how the product can be modified to suite the potential customer's needs. Applications engineers, design engineers and sales engineers (I have been a sales engineer) often work closely together in the sale of large, complex pieces of machinery or systems. Thus an applications engineers needs to be very knowledgeable about the "item" his company offers and the requirements of the purchaser. Sometimes the roll of sales engineer and applications engineer are rolled into one person.

Hope this helps,

Doug

Thank you comment icon Really interesting. Thank you! Abby, Admin
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Joseph’s Answer

It looks like the other answers come from a software background - and while they're correct that the job title is commonly used in software to refer to software applications programming, in other fields it means broader things.

Exactly what the job title means will vary from company to company, but generally, outside of software fields, the "applications" in the title refers to the ways a particular technology or product can be used or "applied" in different scenarios or systems.

Within Optics, it's likely to mean a customer-facing role, part technical, part sales - interfacing with the customers and determining what product combination (lasers, lenses etc) best meets their needs and how it can be integrated into their overall system. There will likely be elements of communicating the benefits of the technology with less-technical folk like project managers, so that will draw on your science communication, but there's still likely to be some hands-on work - so I'd say it could be a pretty good match for your skills - although obviously it depends on exactly how they do things at each particular company.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! I appreciate you explaining the role more in the context of physics/optics. Physics undergrads don't get a lot of career guidance outside of "go to grad school" so it's good to know that there are other options Abby, Admin
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Wayne’s Answer

Hi Abby,

An Applications Engineer, or an Application Engineer, is essential to the development and building of software. Their duties include assessing customer and business needs, designing and testing software and creating hardware components.

An Applications Engineer is responsible for designing and developing different forms of software. This process includes a number of duties:

- Gathering information from customers on their needs and designing the software to match their desires
- Designing all pieces of the program and analyzing how they will fit together
- Creating different diagrams and models that programmers may need for each application
- Making sure the software continues to work properly after maintenance and testing
- Take notes of all aspects of the application for future upgrades and maintenance

Good luck!
Thank you comment icon Seems like a pretty versatile role! Thanks for your help Abby, Admin
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Craig’s Answer

Designs and writes code and possible the user interface and engine of the application from requirements
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