Design Engineer

I am employed in house.

The position was originally advertised as a “design draftsman” but my job is basically designing and 3d modelling valves, taps and fittings which are cast from brass and aluminium and the associated tooling. I am doing a lot of tool design for gravity and low pressure die casting. I have modelled up the machines I am designing tooling for and I am designing and modelling the dies, ejector plates and mounting brackets.

I am also working on a set of valves which comply with Australian and ISO standards so I have learnt about thread forms and material specs which relate to the standards.

My question is: Is this Design Engineering? What I am doing isn’t the industrial design I learnt in my degree and I think it goes beyond what a typical “draftsman” would do. We have no engineers at my work, so I am working this all out myself. I have seen “design engineer” jobs advertised and they usually pay a lot more than what I am earning, but I don’t have an engineering degree.

Yes, what you’re doing is considered design engineering. I would guess that it’s difficult to get a job without a degree in an engineering discipline–especially if you are competing against those who do.

It sounds like your company may be small enough where they don’t want to pay a degreed professional, but that’s surely not the case elsewhere. So I see your options as:

  1. Stay on and continue to learn the trade until you can prove yourself elsewhere as qualified–despite lacking the degree. Look for roles where your Industrial Design background might be considered valuable.

  2. Get a degree, then go get those higher paying jobs.

  3. Use your ID degree. If you’re more interested/talented with the mechanical engineering attributes, look for an ID role where that’s valued. Companies that only have an engineering dept but would like to have an IDer might be particularly interested because it would hedge their bet (they could use you both ways) and you’d speak their language.

Best of luck!

I can’t add a single thing to what Chris has just suggested.

Over the years I was fortunate to have worked my way into a couple of positions that were “beyond” my degree and can only say that it never hurts to learn something new. Just keep all of your accomplishments and on-the-job “education” in mind (or better yet, a diary) for when your annual review comes up.

And as far as your future career in Industrial Design is concerned; industrial design is nothing without manufacturing … so what you are doing is all “portfolio work”.

Yes, this is design engineer work. In the US it is traditionally done by someone with a 2-year degree from a technical school. Not a BA or BSME. In my experience the people doing it have CAD skill and a thorough working knowledge of materials and methods, and plenty of trail-and-error and gut feel at how things should be done, but not the full depth of conceptual framework of a 4-year degreed engineer.