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A mechanical design engineer uses the newest technology to design and build mechanical devices, equipment, and tools that are used in the manufacturing and production processes of various industries. They also analyze mechanical systems, components, and equipment for signs of structural fatigue, thermal stress, or vibration. Even though these engineers acquire a lot of knowledge and skill through on-the-job experience, proper education and training are necessary to get hired. These engineers may work in many different industries and collaborate with engineers from other disciplines. The various duties of an engineer include everything from initial design to building a working prototype.
Degrees available in this field range from an associate's degree in applied science to a doctoral degree necessary to teach mechanical design engineering. A bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or a related field is typically required by most employers. Formal training is important, however, the design engineers also get a lot of knowledge and experience from actually working on various types of projects. Some design engineers may have worked in more than one industry over several years and often acquire related experience and knowledge in those particular industries. For example, an engineer with knowledge of designing space suits, acquired in the aerospace industry, may use that knowledge to produce lighter equipment for firefighters while working in another industry.
The type of mechanical components or systems designed will likely be determined by the industry in which a mechanical design engineer works. For example, a design engineer working for the automotive industry could be designing various electronic components for cars. Those engineers working in the aviation industry will most likely be designing mechanical systems and modifications for various types of aircraft. Mechanical design engineers may work with other types of engineers or technicians in accomplishing these tasks.
Mechanical design engineers begin the process of creating something by producing a sketch or drawing. This drawing may be created on one of several types of computer aided design and drafting (CADD) systems. They may also supervise or direct other engineers in the creation of these initial design drawings. Another part of the overall design process is the analysis and troubleshooting of the mechanical processes, components, or equipment to ensure reliability. In some cases, a mechanical design engineer may be required to produce a fully functioning prototype of a design before it goes into final production.