A lift engineer is a professional who designs and operates heavy lift equipment utilized in the manufacturing industries, particularly the oil and gas industries. This type of engineering professional is skilled in designing models of large scale machines used in oil rigs and mining sites. In addition, a lift engineer may also be called upon to do project management, ensuring that site and drilling operations run as smoothly as possible.
Some lift engineers work on the operations side of the industry within multidisciplinary teams. These teams are responsible for surveying oil reserves to determine their suitability for drilling. The engineer will be expected to contribute expertise in different lift techniques such as gas lift, electric submersible pumps, progressing cavity pumps, and hydraulic pumping systems. Depending on the nature of the terrain at the drill site, this professional will determine which sort of lift method will be most efficient in obtaining the natural resources. He or she will also determine which method is more cost effective for the company which is financing the project.
Part of the lift engineer job description focuses exclusively on preliminary planning work, such as design and analysis. Engineers in these positions are charged with coming up with innovative yet reliable designs for tools, fixtures, and machinery that will eventually be used in onshore and offshore oil drilling operations. These planning stages require a great deal of structural analysis, which the engineer performs using specialized mechanical engineering design software.
There are a few lift engineer jobs that require the candidate to specialize in a particular type of material used for building heavy lift machinery. Structural steel is a very popular material for this sort of work. As such, lift engineers who understand and can manipulate structural steel to design and construct large scale machinery are highly favored. Other materials that lift engineers may come across include titanium, chrome, and brass.
To become a lift engineer, a strong grasp of mechanical engineering principles is necessary. Usually, a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, civil engineering, or structural engineering is required in order to be hired for these positions. During the undergraduate years, some lift engineers pursue internships within the oil and gas industry to gain a better understanding of the specific instruments and rigs used in this industry. A master's degree is not typically required, since on the job experience is highly valued. Most senior jobs in this field require the candidate to have at least seven years experience.