The continued demand for new and improved products, the increasing number of technological advances that impact our daily lives, and the growing need for more economical manufacturing and systems processes to remain competitive in a global market indicate that there is an exciting and dynamic future for engineers who pursue an industry career path. There are always exciting new possibilities in the field of engineering. Some of the emerging
technologies include: advanced materials, advanced semiconductor devices, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, business intelligence, digital imaging technology, flexible computer-integrated manufacturing, high-density data
storage, high-performance computing, Internet technology, medical devices and diagnostics, nanotechnology, optoelectronics, sensor technology, and superconductors. As you plan for the future, you may want to consider some
of these emerging technologies when selecting your area of specialization within your engineering discipline.
A special note: It is not necessary for engineers to begin their career in industry to have a successful career path in the private sector. For example, engineers who initially join federal or state regulatory agencies and gain several years of experience find it easy to move into industrial positions. Increasingly, industry places a high premium on both engineering knowledge and a strong understanding of government regulations. For example, the vice president
of government relations for a major manufacturer of household appliances has stated that the appliance industry’s greatest challenge comes primarily from governments. The industry is increasingly involved in reengineering
products to meet national and international regulations. To remain competitive, more and more companies rely on engineers to keep pace not only with technological advances, but also with government regulation, which can have the tendency to push technical feasibility further and further. It becomes the engineer’s job to manage these regulations with a sensitivity to cost, performance, manufacturability, and reliability.
This is particularly true in the health-care industry, which is heavily regulated by both the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. Likewise, companies seeking to do business in foreign markets seek engineers who are familiar with international standards, such as ISO 9000, the quality-management system in production environments or ISO 10006 the quality management guidelines for project management.
To remain competitive, industry must rely on research and development. Research efforts develop new technologies for the marketplace. Develop efforts result in addressing the applications of new technologies to the challenges that face manufacturing, suppliers, vendors, and/or customers. While much research and development occurs in academia and the government career paths, those industries that remain in the forefront of their field always invest a percentage of their profits in research and development, also referred to as R&D. Typical investment of profits ranges from 5 to 15 percent, depending on the industry. Industries that invest in R&D include:
R&D as % of Sales
IT Hardware 9.5
Computer Software 10.3
Pharma & Biotech 15.1
A sample of the job descriptions that one might find in the area of R&D is:
Junior R&D Project Engineer. B.S. or master’s degree in an engineering discipline with strong background in physical sciences. Exceptional performance in course work and extensive experience in independent completion of design projects incorporating optical and analytical elements.
Required skills: familiarity with optical systems, laser design, and test methods; knowledge of laser material processing or laser/tissue interaction; optical specification (polymer, glass, coatings, crystals, UV, and NIR materials); ability to model/program in LabView, MathCad, or MatLab, and in Excel; optical sensor design and testing; data analysis and reporting, presenting results to colleagues, project documentation; exceptional interpersonal skills for a fastpaced laboratory environment
Product Development Engineer. Ph.D. in materials science, chemical engineering, or mechanical engineering preferred. Candidate must demonstrate thorough capability of conducting research and development in the area of
materials science, tribology, friction phenomena, transport phenomena, friction and related systems, and computer modeling and of using analytical tools and facilities necessary for the research, development, and analysis of new
transmission systems friction products. Prior experience in friction materials development for “wet” clutch, dry brakes, or friction-related applications. Required skills are research experience in computer modeling, research
experience in friction test methods and test equipment, familiarity with analytical methods and computational methods, strong communication skills, self starter, demonstrated potential for project management, demonstrated
abilities in both research and development