Last month, in an effort to learn more about the everyday challenges of design engineers, we began a series of Q&As with TechBriefs.com readers.
Our most recent interviews showcase a wide range of careers, including furniture makers, filtration system engineers, aircraft navigation specialists, and medical device designers. Despite the variation in job titles, however, many of the engineers share the same skills, interests, and demands.
Here are some of the highlights from last month's "Meet Our Readers" Q&As:
"The choices of 3D software have changed the way engineering operates. The ability to create a product and never have to cut a single piece of wood or metal to show the customer what they are getting, and how it operates, is very cost efficient...I thought when I started with AutoCAD that I would keep my drafting table at home available to do hand drawings. Now, I have a computer with a CAD program installed sitting on my drafting table." Ben Hager, custom engineer of library furniture
"When I write a specification, I try to get what the cutting-edge requirements would be and then make those with existing technology. Sometimes the vendor, who would potentially use this, doesn’t even know that that technology even exists. Pulling those things together is an art form in a way. They don’t teach you that in engineering college." Sid Wood, senior scientist enginer of Navy aircraft navigation systems
"Rapid prototyping has got to be the most exciting technology to come out of the twentieth century...It allows you to, in the same amount of time, create vastly different models of the same device. You can try different things and actually have it in your hand. When I first got into this, that was something that took weeks, and you had to have a model shop that would produce a prototype...With rapid prototyping you can send it off and say, 'Hey I want three of these,' and you can get it back in a matter of days, and it’s a lot cheaper to do." Michael Hudspeth, CAD Designer of medical devices
"Progress is usually pretty slow, just because of the nature of what we do. You can’t rush what we do. Everything has to be validated and tested, approved internally, then approved with the customer." Chander Saini, product engineer of filtration systems