Moving from Mechanical Engineering to Product Design/R&D?

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
  • Moving from Mechanical Engineering to Product Design/R&D?
  • Duane…
    Member

    Hi all,

    I studied Mechanical Engineering at uni, and have just started an Engineering graduate scheme at a large engineering company.

    I would, at some point, like to make a move to more of a product design type role, not entirely sure in what industry, or doing exactly what, but would like to have a larger influence over the end product, have input through more of the requirements-concept-development-testing process, and be vaguely creative and innovative.

    Question here is really how do I go about getting into that place, both with regards to what jobs/companies to look into, and what skills I will need to get there

    On my uni course we did very little real design/creative work – we did a couple CAD modules (SolidEdge), bit of technical drawing, but no real conceptual design work, sketching, surfacing etc etc.

    I’m trying to do more drawing when I have a bit of time, just fast and rough sketching as it’s something I know I’m not very strong at.

    Had a very quick look at some product design jobs, and they required experience in using various CAD/surfacing/design software, which I essentially don’t have, and will struggle to pick up in my spare time.

    I’m therefore guessing that the best route may be to move to a more industrial/mechanical design role, where my mech eng knowledge will be useful, and then try to move over to more design related roles as I learn on the job.

    Has anyone done anything similar, or know about relevant industries? Any thoughts, input, advice etc would be much appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Duane.

    nickjb
    Member

    I did a pure engineering degree then moved to design. I did a design course at college that was specifically for graduate engineers. Steered me in the right direction. I went straight to college after leaving uni but the people who did a year or 3 in work generally did better on the course.

    I think you’ll struggle without good CAD skills unless you can find a job with training. There’s lots of web led courses to do in your own time. Pick a popular and proper 3D package like nx or solidifies but there is a lot of cross over once you have the basics.

    Failing that there are companies that take younger people on train them up. Dyson is a good example.

    Duane…
    Member

    Thanks. Was that a full time college course?

    I will be receiving training in NX in the next few months, and will be using it, although I’m not too sure.

    Premier Icon househusband
    Subscriber

    Sketching would be a really, really useful skill to develop for product design. Mine is reasonable after several years as a ‘techie’ teacher.

    Assume you’ve moved away from Edinburgh? (If you’re the Duane I’m thinking of we have several mutual mates in the area.)

    TheBrick
    Member

    Check your local FE college mine has some evening courses in CAD and some in 3dSmax. Maybe worht it to get you over that initial learning hump

    footflaps
    Member

    If you’re just starting out you have plenty of time to change course. You need to get a good few years solid experience first though. My advice (based on personal experience) is get the foundation skills / training in a large company and then move to a much smaller organisation where roles are much broader and moving role is much easier.

    Duane…
    Member

    Thanks again for replies.

    Yup, moved away from Edinburgh (guessing you know GW et al)?

    Not going to lie, doing an after-work course is going to be tough to manage, but will look into it.

    I’ll be in this role (well, the grad scheme anyway) for 1.5-2 years minimum (fingers crossed…), so not looking to rush away right now, just trying to figure out what I should be looking into improving sooner rather than later! And yeah, definitely plan to get the skills/experience/training available from a big firm.

    FF – interesting that you said it’s easier to move roles in a small company, as I’d have thought it would be tougher (simply as there are less roles in the company, less opening up etc) – I know my company suggest changing roles every 18-24 months!

    Those of you who do product-design-esque jobs, would you mind giving me a bit of info about what your role is, what you do day to day, how you got into your role, whether you actually enjoy it, etc etc?

    Thanks,
    Duane.

    Premier Icon moff
    Subscriber

    I’d have a hunt around for Junior Designer or CAD Technician roles as these will get you into a Design department.

    Hopefully you’ll have enough skill from your Solidedge work to allow you to drive the basics of a CAD package.

    You’ll find that Solidedge, Inventor, Soliworks, ProE etc are much of a muchness to operate it just a question of knowing where the relevent buttons are and the prefered work flow.

    I don’t think that CAD training is worth too much beyond the basics of the elements that you require, you learn much more by trying and failing to generate the shapes/forms you are looking for.

    At a junior level you are unlikely to be thrown straight into surface modelling and complex components without having time to practice and impart knowledge from your colleauges.

    Premier Icon househusband
    Subscriber

    Yup, moved away from Edinburgh (guessing you know GW et al)?

    Yeah! We may have met once, briefly, several years ago.

    I did Product Design Engineering BSc at Napier 2002-5… a mediocre degree compared to Heriot Watt but got into the 2nd year. There is the square root of **** all in terms of product design in the area so I guessed you’d moved away. It got me into teaching and I love my job; I’m happier working with people than things.

    maccyb
    Member

    Sounds like you have the complementary problem to me: http://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/advice-needed-re-what-field-of-3d-cadvisualisationmodelling-to-pursue

    I think we’re both ultimately looking for similar roles, except I’m looking at improving my existing CAD skills but I don’t have engineering design qualifications. I’m also not a fresh grad! I’d be interested to know how you get on – I suspect you’ll have more luck, at least to begin with. I’m going to have to try to persuade people that my ‘design business’ experience is useful even though it’s web design, and try to get back into the engineering side of things…

    I can certainly let you know what I find out in terms of what’s available/worthwhile in CAD courses (taught and self-taught), though I’m not starting that til I get back in the UK in a couple of months.

    footflaps
    Member

    FF – interesting that you said it’s easier to move roles in a small company, as I’d have thought it would be tougher (simply as there are less roles in the company, less opening up etc) – I know my company suggest changing roles every 18-24 months!

    Obviously it all depends on the organisation, but generally small companies don’t have enough people to have rigid roles, so there is much more flexibility and opportunity. So if someone was hired to do X but shows promise doing a bit of Y, they end up doing more Y etc.

    I went from a company with 90,000 employees to less than 100!

    I was a graduate Mech Eng sponsored by a very large company (Ford). I graduated back in 1991 and the prospect of designing bumper trims, exhaust brackets or maybe even door mirrors if I was lucky didn’t appeal. The career path of an engineer was also mapped out in depressing detail with little chance to do something out of the box. So I went into Motorsport with a much smaller company and soon found myself designing entire racing cars within a small but highly motivated team. The formal training was obviously less structured (actually almost non-existent) but the experience I gained from just working things out for myself and working with talented colleagues more than made up for it. To be honest I was well out of my depth early on, but I eventually ended up as a chief engineer with a leading F1 team, which was a dream come true.

    So my advice would be to look for a smaller company, but a forward thinking one with talented people around. It’s more of a risk, but I think the rewards can be higher if you make your mark. The big companies tend to pigeon hole their employees and while the training programmes are more professional and structured, they also tend to be inflexible. Obviously I’m generalising somewhat, but you get the idea.

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)

The topic ‘Moving from Mechanical Engineering to Product Design/R&D?’ is closed to new replies.