Long hours, little time, multiple projects to juggle, and a constant push
to keep up with an ever-changing body of technical knowledge. That's the
professional life of a design engineer, according to Design News' most recently sponsored study of the field.
Here are a few of the specifics from the study, conducted by the independent Simmons Market Research Bureau:
You are busier than ever. Collectively, you work on an average of 18 design projects a year. Two previous Simmons studies commissioned by Design News, in 1989 and 1993, reported that engineers were working on 10.5 and 15.2 projects, respectively.
You're working faster too. Three-quarters of all your projects last less than 12 months. Nearly half last less than six months. In the last Simmons study, 40% of engineering projects lasted less than six months.
Your biggest design challenges remain keeping up with technology, shortening the design cycle, and computerizing the design function.
Your top two design objectives are ease of manufacture and higher quality, as was true in the last Simmons study. But, lowering the cost of product manufacturing has replaced increased reliability as your third most important objective. Controlling costs has become more important in your job.
As previous studies have shown, your responsibilities are wide. Besides design, they include R&D, management, testing, and quality control.
And your influence is growing. The Simmons study shows that design engineers are involved in specifying or approving five of the nine major product categories associated with design work vs. 3.3 in the 1989 study.
Although you use the Internet, your most important source of information for your job is engineering magazines.
We'll report on more results from the Simmons study in the next few months. Meanwhile, let us know your own experiences. Do the Simmons results match your own experience as a design engineer?
Advertised as the "Most Powerful Tablet Under $100," the Kindle Fire HD 6 was too tempting for the team at iFixit to pass up. Join us to find out if inexpensive means cheap, irreparable, or just down right economical. It's teardown time!
The increased adoption of wireless technology for mission-critical applications has revved up the global market for dynamic electronic general purpose (GP) test equipment. As the link between cloud networks and devices -- smartphones, tablets, and notebooks -- results in more complex devices under test, the demand for radio frequency test equipment is starting to intensify.
Much of the research on lithium-ion batteries is focused on how to make the batteries charge more quickly and last longer than they currently do, work that would significantly improve the experience of mobile device users, as well EV and hybrid car drivers. Researchers in Singapore have come up with what seems like the best solution so far -- a battery that can recharge itself in mere minutes and has a potential lifespan of 20 years.
Some humanoid walking robots are also good at running, balancing, and coordinated movements in group settings. Several of our sports robots have won regional or worldwide acclaim in the RoboCup soccer World Cup, or FIRST Robotics competitions. Others include the world's first hockey-playing robot and a trash-talking Scrabble player.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.