How to become a Design Engineer

design engineer careers

What does a Design Engineer do?

Design engineers research and develop concepts for new products, production processes and manufacturing systems. They also modify existing products and systems to improve performance and efficiency.

Design engineers work in a variety of fields including mechanical, electrical, electronic, automotive, biomedical and civil engineering. Projects can differ in scale from redesigning a mobile handset to utilise new telecommunications technologies through to the design of a new range of vehicle models.

When working on a design, engineers take into account aspects such as functionality, strength, safety, reliability, aesthetics, efficiency, costs and the environmental impact of finished products and also the production processes used to make those products. Typical tasks include:

Research – working in a research environment, using mathematical modelling to carry out feasibility studies for new developments or innovations.

Design - using computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-assisted engineering (CAE) software to turn research ideas into technical plans and specifications for new product and system prototypes.

Testing - putting prototypes through testing programmes; collecting and analysing test data using computer models; modifying prototypes and re-testing - this process can go through several stages before a product is ready for manufacture or installation.

Design engineers work closely with other engineering professionals and technicians. They also write regular progress reports for project managers and clients.

What's the working environment like working as a Design Engineer?

Design engineers usually work 37 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday.

Much of the work is computer-based, working in a design or drawing office. Some travel to clients' sites may be involved, so a driving licence is helpful.

What does it take to become a Design Engineer?

To be a design engineer, you should:

  • have strong analytical skills and an innovative approach to problem solving
  • have a sound knowledge of computer assisted design software
  • have an excellent grasp of engineering concepts and principles
  • have excellent communication skills
  • be able to visualise ideas
  • have an understanding of manufacturing processes and construction methods
  • have an appreciation of the wider business and environmental impact of design ideas
  • have good teamworking skills.

Design Engineer Career Opportunities

Opportunities for design engineers exist in many industries including construction, construction engineering, building services, electronics, shipbuilding, aerospace, power generation, railways, electronics, and vehicle and consumer goods manufacture.

Promotion would normally be to project manager, strategic planner or consultant design engineer.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Design Engineer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

The Institution of Engineering Designers
Westbury Leigh
BA13 3TA

The Institution of Engineering and Technology
Savoy Place
Tel: 020 7240 1871

SEMTA (Science Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance)
14 Upton Road
WD18 0JT
Tel: 0808 100 3682

Women into Science and Engineering
22 Old Queen Street
Tel: 020 7227 8421

Engineering Training Council (Northern Ireland)
20-24 York Street
BT15 1AQ
Tel: 028 9032 9878

Engineering Council
10 Maltravers Street
Tel: 020 7240 7891

The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC)

Facts and Stats:

  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel was only 5ft tall and wore a top hat to make himself look taller
  • Engineering generates more than 40 per cent of the UK¿s national wealth
  • The Box Hill tunnel, part of Brunel¿s Great Western Railway, took five years to dig and at two miles long was the longest tunnel in the world at the time

Courses to help you become a Design Engineer