How to be a good mechanical design engineer

August 28, 2020

Mechanical design engineers work across a range of disciplines. It’s possible to carve your own career path and choose the areas that interest you the most, including defence, manufacturing, oil and gas or even transport. Once you are qualified and have a little experience under your belt, the world is your oyster.

Mechanical design engineers are in high demand throughout the UK. Women, people with disabilities and those from minority ethnical backgrounds are underrepresented in the industry. Companies are aware of this and actively looking for ways to diversify their workforce, so don’t let the current structure of the industry dissuade you from pursuing this career. 

In this guide, we will look at some of the key competencies you need to become a good mechanical design engineer. These are the things that Design Engineering Recruitment firms are looking for during interviews, so it’s helpful to be able to position yourself as the best candidate for the role.

What qualifications do I need?

There are vocational and academic routes into design engineering. To become a chartered engineer or a professionally incorporated engineer, you will need to gain your undergraduate degree in engineering. To achieve a fully chartered status, you will need to obtain your Masters. This is typically the point at which design engineers will specialise in mechanical design engineering.

If you are approaching the industry later in life, you may be able to undertake a postgraduate conversion course to give you the skills and knowledge you need to be able to start your engineering career. 

You could also enter the industry with an HNC, HND or a foundation degree. This would allow you to become an engineering technician. You would need to attend university to achieve chartered status. Engineering apprenticeships are also available, which would allow you to study and work your way towards an engineering qualification.

What other skills are employers looking for?

In addition to the obvious maths, physics and design skills, employers look for confident communicators. Being confident about the direction you want to take in your career and being able to communicate this in an interview setting is vital. Since engineers will work with many different stakeholders, many of which will be from a non-engineering background, you need to be able to communicate complex concepts as simply as possible. You also need good attention to detail and the ability to take pride in your work.

How do I gain the right experience?

If you are joining engineering on an apprenticeship, you will be well on your way to gaining a wide range of experience. Those on an academic route might feel disadvantaged, so it’s important to use summer holidays and half term to your advantage. Look for work placements and internships that will allow you to get a taste for the job. 

Some universities will also include a placement year in the course. While this might extend the duration of your course by a year, this experience will be invaluable. Employers don’t only want the academically strong candidates. They also want the candidates who bring commercial awareness to their role.

How do I stand out in interviews?

Here at Nolan, technical interviews are what we do best. We can help you to practice and hone your interview technique so that you can impress the hiring managers. Ultimately, to become a good mechanical design engineer, you need a strong foundation of education, a passion for the role and endless curiosity. The best engineers never stop learning and treat every single day in the office as a learning opportunity. Being able to convey this passion and drive for engineering in an interview setting will allow you to secure the best roles to help you progress your career.

If you need help with your Technical recruitment, please get in touch.

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