A manufacturing engineer is an industrial production expert who researches and develops methods of designing, building, and shipping various items. He or she determines the best ways of utilizing industrial machinery and assembly line workers to maximize efficiency. Manufacturing engineers decide when new machinery or policies are needed, and actively coordinate with management to ensure plans are carried out in a quick and economical manner.
Many industries rely on the expertise of knowledgeable manufacturing engineers to keep costs down and increase profits. Professionals aid in the production of prefabricated building materials, consumer electronics, furniture, automobiles, and packaged food, among hundreds of other specialty items. Regardless of the specific industry, a manufacturing engineer performs extensive research on existing technology and production techniques. He or she often determines the most appropriate equipment to build or purchase and decides how to efficiently situate machine stations on the factory floor.
In addition to increasing the efficiency of production techniques, a manufacturing engineer also focuses on improving worker safety and satisfaction. He or she may write training manuals, develop new worker classes, and perform regular facility tours and personal performance reviews to determine the effectiveness of company polices. The engineer also creates and enforces safety rules to keep workplace accidents and equipment malfunctions at a minimum. A professional understands how important a well-prepared, motivated workforce is to the overall success of a company.
Manufacturing engineers are generally very organized and detail-oriented people. The job requires expert math, physics, and computer skills to design schematics for new processes and systems. Communication skills are also important, as a manufacturing engineer must describe his or her recommendations to executives and explain new procedures to floor workers. In addition, engineers in many industries employ their knowledge of marketing and general business management to determine specific types and quantities of goods to produce in order to maximize profit versus cost margins.
A person who wants to become a manufacturing engineer usually needs to obtain at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. Many schools offer manufacturing engineering majors, and colleges without the specific major usually provide much of the same instruction in industrial or mechanical engineering programs. With a degree, an individual can begin applying for entry-level junior engineer positions. New workers typically receive formal on-the-job training and operate under the supervision of experienced engineers for several months. Some positions within the realm of manufacturing engineering require new professionals to pass licensing exams before they can begin working independently.