A composite engineer is an engineer tasked with a range of technical, production process, and administrative responsibilities in companies that produce composite materials or use them for the construction of their products. Composites occur naturally or are manufactured from two or more different materials combined into a single end product. The composite engineer is typically expected to oversee the production of composite materials or products, to make informed choices on the materials and processes used, and to develop and institute programs or systems that enhance the end product and profitability of the business. Most companies looking for composite engineers require that prospective candidates be in possession of a degree in either mechanical or chemical engineering and have solid experience in the composites disciplines relevant to their business. Preference is often given to those with experience in composite formulation, design and production techniques, and materials.
The role of a composite, or more accurately composites, engineer is a critical one in any facility producing composites or manufacturing products from them. Composite science is a combination of mechanical and chemical entities and requires close attention to detail and a deep understanding of its complexities when applied to the manufacture of commercial composite products. The composite engineer is responsible for applying this science to the day-to-day production activities in a composite-based business. These activities are generally centered around the materials used for production, the production processes and related systems, as well as any related logistic and administrative functions.
The materials used to make composites are diverse, with many standard components featuring extensive ranges of possible characteristic-enhancing additives. This is particularly true of resins used for reinforced plastic composites. The composite engineer in such a facility, for example, is responsible for choosing base resins, additives, and reinforcing materials that produce finished materials that best suit process or client requirements. The engineer will also have to decide on the best manufacturing process for the particular project. These responsibilities require a well-established knowledge of the materials and processes involved in any particular composite production arena.
The composite engineer is also typically required to institute peripheral systems to ensure smooth and profitable production. These may include inventory related issues, safety, and housekeeping policies or process procedures. The engineer may also be called upon to discharge process-related administrative duties such as purchasing of materials, invoicing, and supplier liaison. The formulation, implementation, and maintenance of relevant inventory control and store-keeping policies and procedures is also typically the responsibility of the composite engineer. Generally, most companies require a potential candidate to hold a relevant mechanical or chemical engineering degree in addition to at lease three years of composite production or design experience.