Mech Eng in New Product Development

Hi all, I’m a fairly regular on the board using a throwaway account. I’m aware this is a design forum but I figure a lot of you must work side by side with people in the role I’m looking to fill.

In short, I’d appreciate your advice in finding my next gig. I’m a mechanical engineer that’s fairly early in his career and I have been involved in new product development in one way or another since I’ve graduated, I was in research prior to that. I started doing analysis and early electronics proof of concepts in a startup environment and now I’m running the gamut from conceptual development, engineering, drafting, working things out with suppliers and manufacturing assistance in a mid-sized company doing very large scale work. I’ve also been doing some personal projects on and off that are more related to straight up industrial design, though I’m fully aware I don’t have the chops to solely hold that role.

As you can see, I’ve been exposed to a pretty wide scope of what mechanical designers do :laughing: but I don’t have any great specialization. I guess I’ve been getting into computational design lately but that’s not necessarily the most marketable skill right now.

So, for a variety of reasons I won’t get into, I’m looking at getting a new job. I would love something related to new product development in consumer products. I just love being a part of the group of people that are coming up with the hard solutions that solve the clients problems, look good are cost efficient and part of a vision. I also like taking those conceptual solutions and making them a reality.

I’m just not finding a lot of those job posting out there and I’m unsure how to shape my candidacy as I always feel like I’m the jack of all trade applying for jobs that require specific experience. I don’t have experience in true consumer product, plastics or CAD surfacing. I’m also not in a location where there’s a lot of design happening so I’m looking at relocating with this new jobs but I don’t have a lot of opportunities for one on one contacts.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I think you’ll find that this is near everyone in NPD :wink:

Are you looking for a mechanical engineer position, a design engineer position, or an industrial design position? All 3 are involved in product development, but focus on different requirements within a project. Do you have experience with a solid modeller like Solidworks or Pro E?

If you are wanting to get into consumer goods, it would be worth doing some relevant personal projects that show the skills needed for the positions advertised. Relocating yourself to a place with relevant work is also a good idea.

We will be posting 2 positing in medical NPD soon. PM me if interested.

I’d suggest researching firms that you’d like to work for and emailing them directly to introduce yourself and your skillset. Sometimes, you end up contacting someone around the that they’re bidding for a project or have identified a need to hire a new person. If you fit the bill… it is much easier to just hire you than post a job, sort through resumes, and interview a whole bunch of other people!

For smaller firms, this is easy and you can be relatively sure that someone will at least read your email that you send to “info@…” (of course there are no guarantees on getting a response!). For larger firms, sending a general inquiry email to “careers@…” will probably just go straight to a trash folder. So, you might have to do some LinkedIn research to seek out and connect with manager/director level people in the department you’d want to be in. Include an enthusiastic (and not too boilerplate) message about your desire to work for company and their work, your resume and a pdf of your portfolio (or maybe just a shortened teaser version).

As a youngish ME with an ID grad degree myself, I have found it to be a relatively difficult spot to be in. When I was looking for a job in a new city a few years ago, I found that a lot of firms were looking for highly experienced product design ME talent, which I wasn’t. And if there were openings for Junior ID positions, my portfolio wasn’t competitive for those positions either. So, I just started cold contacting every firm in the area that I found interesting. And that is how I found my current job for an ME design firm. I do more ME than ID work at this time, but I’m slowly working towards ID. Gotta start somewhere!

So… I understand your situation. Good luck with the search!

I agree with moczys, contacting firms directly is probably a good way to go. I think a lot of design consultants do need a jack of all trades, and you might just fit the bill for the firms needs even if they haven’t advertised yet. That’s how I got my job (I’m your mirror image, an industrial designer who can pretend to be a mechanical engineer) - a small ME firm was considering a project that required some ID and I just happened to contact them at the right time. I’m not saying happenstance is necessarily a good job search strategy, but you might at least get a good conversation with some of the firms out of it.

I know less about corporate gigs, but even though you may lack some of the specific qualifications I wouldn’t shy away from jobs you might be interested in. If you can get past an HR gatekeeper there may be some who are interested in getting some variety of background on their team. You’d might fit best at the fuzzy front end of R&D at some places if you can find those departments.

Regarding your skills, I’d make sure to brush up on at least the basics of designing for injection molding and other plastic processes (even looking on injection molders’ websites for their guidelines is a start), and try to learn some CAD surfacing and learn a little about curvature continuity. As a designer I cringe at the thought of anyone creating final CAD of a form without the ability to realize the subtleties that can really make a design shine. Not all roles require this, but it seems like the roles you are looking for might.

Thanks so much for the response everyone! :smiley:

I’m aware that doesn’t make me special, I just want to make sure my job allows me fulfills that need to get excited about problems and make things. :laughing:

I know I don’t have the chops to take on a full fledged ID role and I think I’d miss some of the engineering R&D type work. I’m unsure where the line would lie between a mechanical engineer and a design engineer position. It seems to me, a design engineer is a subset of mechanical engineering. Where other mechanical engineering jobs within a company making new products would include things like production engineers, material engineers, QA engineers…

I would like my position to be early in the process, being part of the group of people that figure out what the product is going to be: working out possible design solutions, make proofs of concept/prototypes, run simulations and computational design, and finally refine to a final design that solves the design criteria . More than I would want to work on the back end on production or testing duties.

I have some experience in solid modeling but most of my recent work has been in Rhino (not a whole lot of surfacing though), especially with Grasshopper doing computational design work. But I’m not seeing a lot interest from employers in the consumer product world for computational design, I only found a small group at Nike that’s actively seeking that kind of experience. I do need to brush up on my solid modeling work, especially in surfacing.

Luckily I do have a portfolio of personal work in consumer products. I’m willing to relocate, actually looking forward to the adventure of it, but I think I’d need a position to do so first.

I agree cold calling might be worth it in my case. Even if a company isn’t actively looking, if they see me as some kind of fit, they may keep my file around.

My experience with small design firms has been that few keep an ME on staff. But I should get a feel for the type of work that’s happening from their portfolio anyhow. I’d also be interested in a corporate gig as well if the fit is right possibly more for a company then a consultancy. For example the work that seems to be happening in Microsoft design labs would be really appealing to me.

I think I could broaden my scope as far as corporate gigs go. I’ve been shying away from a lot of jobs that require experience in consumer product but I think a lot of my work experience has brought me directly transferable skills, I just need to get through the HR gatekeepers.

You’re also right on my portfolio. I have some projects that I could rework to include nicer surfacing work as well as working out the injection molding details.