Designing in the mechanical engineering field has gone through many phases. In the ‘80s, a designer was different from an engineer, who was different from a design engineer. Nowadays, a single mechanical design engineer is responsible for all three job descriptions. You might be tempted to ask, what exactly is a mechanical design engineer? Instead of simply giving you a definition, we chose to define this profession according to the latest job postings from some leading companies in mechanics technology. These are the five most important skills that every mechanical design engineer should have:
1) Project Management
A mechanical design engineer should be able to develop a project from concept definition to production detail design. He/she will ensure design solutions meet the mechanical system’s requirements as well as applicable regulations and best industry practices. He should also be familiar with the associated manufacturing processes, assembly techniques and drafting conventions. Finally, he must be able to support the development and execution of project plans which could include schedule and budget planning, conceptual de
sign, prototyping, design for reliability and manufacturability, interfacing with vendors, qualification testing and documentation.
2) CAD Software Skills
A mechanical design engineer should master at least one of the popular CAD software programs (Pro-Engineer, CATIA, Solidworks, NX, etc.) at an advanced level, and be able to create virtual mock-ups and PoCs of required ideas. He should also be able to draft 2D detailed plans and modify existing CAD files if required. Knowing common drafting standards such as ANSI/ASME Y14 is a plus. In addition, a mechanical design engineer is expected to be able to provide CTF (Critical To Function) dimensions and a fully detailed 3D model that can be used for manufacturing. Finally, he must be able to create the complete BoM (Bill of Materials) of his mechanical system within any given software.
3) FEA Software Skills
A mechanical design engineer should be aware of the FEA solutions available, including both pre and post-processing software (ANSA, PATRAN, FEMGEN, and the solvers NASTRAN, SAMCEF, ABAQUS). He should understand the basics of finite element theory and be fluent in the classic main steps of calculation. A mechanical design engineer is expected to compute the results given by the software to define critical zones, improve the design, and generate reports.
4) PLM Skills
With Product Lifecycle Management systems gaining more and more followers, leading companies expect their mechanical design engineers to be familiar with PLM interface technology such as Windchill or ENOVIA. It is critical to know how to use a PLM interface to manage information, store and track files, and navigate administrative functions such as design changes and approvals on the company server.
5) Communication Skills
In addition to speaking English fluently, mastering another language is a big asset when working for an international company. The mechanical design engineer must be able to manage actions and deliverables while at the same time communicating and coordinating effectively with suppliers, customers, and other engineering disciplines. He must be able to work effectively with international teams consisting of multiple disciplines, and communicate effectively with engineers and supporting functions which could include pilots, flight mechanics, technicians, and management. Finally, he is expected to prepare general and technical presentations and communicate his ideas clearly to non-technical staff.