What You Need to Know about Manufacturing Engineering

Engineering-edu“Manufacturing is more than just putting parts together. It’s coming up with ideas, testing principles, and perfecting the engineering, as well as final assembly.” – James Dyson

We love that quote from James Dyson because it blatantly contradicts some of the stereotypes regarding manufacturing that exist today.

It’s easy to think of manufacturing as just putting things together in a dark, dingy, factory; but the reality is that careers in manufacturing encompass many different skill levels, skill sets, and personalities to actually manufacture something from start to finish. If you’ll notice, Dyson also explains that perfecting the engineering is a very important part of the process. But who exactly does that?

Manufacturing engineers (often referred to as MfgE) focus primarily on design and operation systems for the production of “high-quality, economically competitive products,” according to Oregon State University. These types of systems include everything from computer networks to robots to machine tools, and sometimes even materials-handling equipment. This means that designing circuit board manufacturing processes, automating chemical manufacturing facilities, developing fabrication processes for nano-devices, and identifying the most cost-effective material handling for an aerospace manufacturing company all fall under the range of MfgE careers.

So, let’s say you want to learn more about what it takes to become a manufacturing engineer–what are your next steps? Well, as you might guess, a high-quality education is key (which is why we are lucky to have some really fantastic partners in education here in Nebraska). For calculations and value judgments in this type of engineering field, strong math, science, and communications skills are all vital.

A good MfgE program will give graduates the basis needed in mathematical calculations to be able to determine things like the most-cost effective material, etc. In manufacturing engineering, the production process from start to finish, just as James Dyson explains above, is the focus of a project. World Wide Learn explains that “successful students in manufacturing engineering degree programs are inspired by the notion of starting with a natural resource, such as a block of wood, and ending with a usable, valuable product such as a desk.”

Another way to determine if this could be the field for you is by actually stepping into the shoes of a manufacturing engineer for a day and seeing if it feels like a good fit. For support doing this, we’re always available to help you contact a manufacturer or educator— all you have to do is ask!

And if you just don’t have time, there are some great online resources available too. For instance, The Sloan Career Cornerstone Center actually interviewed some real-life manufacturing engineers, like Jason Belaire from Delphi Chassis Systems, about their advice to students and what their typical days look like. Other useful interviews are Ken Harshbarger, staff engineer at Lexmark International and Kimberly Wiefling, project engineer at Hewlett Packard.

Questions? Want to learn more than you already do? Leave a comment in the section below or send us a tweet anytime!

photo credit: OregonDOT via photopin cc