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What Does It Takes to Become a Design Engineer: Know How & Build Your Passion

Career As a Design Engineer

There are many fields in engineering that although quite different have one common aspect. Automobile engineers, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, electronics engineers, and biomedical engineers, all of them require someone who is good at designing their products, vehicles, bodies, equipment, etc. So, if you have an artistic bent of mind and an affinity for engineering, design engineering is one of the promising careers that you can consider.

Design engineers are the specialists who create the conceptual designs of products or equipment. They solve design problems using mathematics, computer software and designing prowess. As designing engineering, you will work on products, to first create their designs through CAD (computer-aided design) software. Then you might even work on a prototype to see all the engineering issues the design may still face. You will also work on the material that can be used to make the final product. You will test these prototypes and once confirmed (after several iterations), you will present the final design to the production team for final production.

Why become a design engineer?

A design engineer is a specialist who works in different engineering disciplines of civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical, textiles, aerospace, nuclear, manufacturing, systems, and structural /building/architectural. Design engineer work on designing equipment, products, machinery, and systems in these disciplines with the help of complex scientific and mathematics tools and techniques. They work to use engineering and design for creating solutions for society.

As a design engineer, you will work with a team of engineers and other designers to conceptualize the designs that ensure a working product with all functionality. As a design engineer, you will ensure that the products perform as per the requirement. Thus, the design engineer has a major role in the success of any engineering product. You may also work with marketers to develop product concepts and specifications to meet the needs of customers.

You will design electrical appliances, gadgets, industrial products, medical equipment, and consumer products etc. such as cycles, mobile phones, toys, etc.

  1. Design Engineers (Aircraft & Spacecraft) specialize in researching, designing, and manufacturing different kinds of air vehicles including aircraft, helicopters, space vehicles, etc. They design both aircraft and its engines.
  2. Computational Designer is a design engineer expert who uses computational strategies to the design process. While other designers use the experience to solve the design process, the computational designer uses computer language and models. They do not use computer models to design the final product, rather they use modeling to create a method of designing a product. So, they modify the process of designing through computational modeling.
  3. Industrial Designer is a specialist who applies the process of design to the product that is to be mass manufactured. An iPod is the creation of an industrial designer. The industrial designer work before the manufacturing of the product to decide its key characteristics like form, features, usability, functionality, etc.
  4. Machine designer is a specialist who uses design techniques to design machines or processes that can use resources or energy and convert them into mechanical form to obtain a useful output. Designing a gearbox is an example of a machinery designer as they design a gearbox that can convert energy into mechanical energy (thus car runs).

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What does a design engineer do?

As a design engineer, depending on your field of specialization, you would have the following roles and responsibilities:

  • As a design engineer, you will work with other designers to create drawings and prototypes of products/ buildings for production or construction.
  • You will use Computer-aided Design software or solid modeling software to create a drawing.
  • As a design engineer, you will work on the prototype of the product once the drawing is ready. Thus, you will create a model of the product and review it. Sometimes, the prototype can be functional.
  • You will test the functional prototype and check the non-functional prototype for form and fit checking. You will do this to find any flaw in the design. And if found out, you will be required to correct them.
  • Once the design prototype is approved, you will do the next beta prototype. In this prototype, you will work with other engineers including manufacturing and quality engineer to review the assembly for design compliance, and manufacturing methods. You will check different variants on production and eliminate any differences.
  • Now you will work with the manufacturing engineers to set the production of approved designs.

How to become a design engineer – eligibility criteria

To become a Design Engineer, you can do a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering in a field of your choice or you can enroll for a Bachelor’s degree program in any of the following fields or in a related field:

  • Electronics Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Automobile Design
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Design
  • Vehicle and Transportation Design
  • Industrial Design (Engineering)
  • Product Design (Engineering)
  • Civil Engineering
  • Manufacturing Engineering
  • Other branches of Engineering

After your Bachelor’s degree in Engineering or in Industrial Design, you may opt to do a Master’s degree in your chosen field of Engineering or in any of the following fields or in a similar field:

  • Electronics Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Automobile Design
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Design
  • Vehicle and Transportation Design
  • Computational Design (Engineering)
  • Engineering Design
  • Industrial Design (Engineering)
  • Machine Design
  • Manufacturing Design Engineering
  • Plant Design Engineering
  • Product Design (Engineering)
  • Manufacturing Engineering
  • Other branches of Engineering

Educational fees

To become a design engineer you need to pay Rs. 80000 to 9000000 as educational fees.

Job Opportunities

  • If you are into the design side of the engineering career, then you may join as a design engineer/ Design engineer trainee.
  • If you are into teaching, then you may join a college or university at the profile of an assistant professor.
  • If you are into scientific research/ design, then you can join as a Scientist with a Grade “C”.
  • Many private manufacturing firms will hire you as a design engineer or software engineer.
  • After your PG, you will be hired as an Assistant Manager in the production departments of many engineering, and manufacturing firms.

You can find job opportunities at the following facilities:

  • Government defense departments like DRDO in India.
  • Space departments like ISRO
  • Private space programs and departments
  • Institutes of scientific learning like IISc, IIA, RRI, TIFR, etc.
  • The design department of all IITs and Engineering colleges.
  • Leading equipment, vehicles, etc. manufacturing industries like Tata, Hyundai, Larson & Turbo, etc.
  • Research centers and laboratories.
  • Aeronautical manufacturing companies like Airbus, Boeing, etc.
  • Electronics and Electrical manufacturing companies like Apple, Samsung, LG, etc.
  • Heavy machinery and equipment manufacturing companies.

Salary of Design Engineer

  • As a Design Engineer/ Trainee at the entry-level, you will be earning anything between Rs. 30,000 to 2,00,000 per month. At the entry-level, as a Scientist (grade C) you would be earning around Rs. 80,000 to 100,000 per month. As an assistant professor, you would be earning anything between Rs. 65,000 to 70,000 per month. As an assistant manager in production, you might be earning between Rs. 40,000 to 1,00,000 per month. Graduates from IITs and leading institutes will earn on the higher side with few even earning above Rs. 2,00,000.
  • At the junior level with a work experience of 2-6 years, you would be earning anything between Rs. 50,000 to 3,00,000 per month.
  • At the middle level with an experience of 10-12 years, you would be earning anything between Rs. 1,40,000 to 1,90,000 per month as a scientist and Rs. 1,20,000 to 1,60,000 as a professor and designer anything between Rs. 1,00,000 to 4,00,000 per month.
  • At the senior level of over 15 years of work experience, you would be earning anything between Rs. 1,60,000 to 2,00,000 per month as a professor and Rs. 2,10,000 to 2,50,000 per month as a Scientist. As a production engineer or designer, you would be earning anything between Rs. 1,20,000 to 10,00,000 per month.

Career progression in design engineer profession  

  • If you have joined as a design engineer/ Design engineer trainee, then you will become a design engineer. Soon, you would either become a design engineering manager or design manager or project manager.
  • If you are into production and joined as a production engineer trainee. Soon, you would become a production engineer. You may be then promoted to production manager (Manufacturing) and then plant manager (manufacturing).
  • My career growth in university and college states from Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor, Professor and Professor Emeritus. Professors can also get administrative positions such as Director/Dean/Vice Chancellor, etc
  • Research laboratories will hire you as a scientist/scientist officer with the lowest grade and the grade changes from low to high. In India, grades are “Scientist “C” as the joining level and then D, E, F, G, H, etc. A senior-level scientist can also get into administrative positions like Principal Scientist, Assistant Director, Deputy Director, Director, etc

Design Engineers are in demand in several sectors. From automobiles to industrial machines they are required for their knowledge and skills. From mechanical to civil to electrical engineers; everyone needs their assistance to create products. Thus, with an eye on manufacturing in the coming year, through Make in India, there is a growing future prospect for design engineers. The more the production more is the need for designers to create new products. Thus, the increase in production has led to an immense increase in industrial engineering products. In 2017, the market size of capital goods manufactured in India was US 70 billion. In 2018 US 76 billion worth of engineering products were exported from India, a big increase from US 65 billion from the previous years.

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