Design engineers research and develop ideas for new products and the systems used to make them. They also work to improve the performance and efficiency of existing products.
As a design engineer you could end up working in a number of different industries from electronics to synthetic textiles, on projects as diverse as the redesign of a mobile phone to the construction of motorcycle parts from carbon fibre materials. The majority of your working day will be based in front of a computer, working in a design or drawing office, but you’ll have the opportunity to occasionally travel to meet clients.
The work will differ depending on the project, but is likely to entail using mathematical modelling to work out whether new developments and innovations would work and be cost effective, turning research ideas into technical plans for prototypes using CAD and CAE software, collecting and analysing data from tests on prototypes, modifying designs and re-testing and writing or presenting regular progress reports for project managers and clients.
As a design engineer you consider a range of features when developing ideas for a new product including usability and safety, strength and reliability, the "look2 and "feel", efficiency and cost, and maintenance and life span. You also have to consider the environmental impact of new products, the manufacturing processes used to make them and how they would be safely disposed of once their working life was over.
You can get into this career by starting off as an engineering technician apprentice with a manufacturing or engineering company and then continuing after your apprenticeship on to higher education qualifications such as a foundation degree, BTEC HNC/HND or degree in a subject such as engineering product design, industrial design, engineering design or materials science.
Qualified engineers can earn between £20-25,000 a year, which can rise to over £40,000 as you gain more and more experience.
Further information on these apprenticeships can be found at www.semta.org.uk [new window].
This information comes from the National Careers Service [new window].