Join your school's science clubs, participate in science fairs, and volunteer with local engineering organizations to learn more about the engineering field. Keep up with the latest news and trends in manufacturing engineering by reading industry publications such as Manufacturing Engineering magazine, https://www.sme.org/manufacturing-engineering-magazine. Learn engineering basics and find information about careers in engineering on the American Society for Engineering Education’s pre-college Web site, http://egfi-k12.org. Conduct an informational interview with a manufacturing engineer to find out their educational background and how they got started in their career. Ask your school's career services office for help with securing an interview. Join the Technology Student Association (https://tsaweb.org), a membership organization for engineering, science, and technology students.
Manufacturing engineers apply scientific knowledge and principles for practical applications. They design, test, and improve manufacturing systems, processes, and products. They identify and solve operational problems and come up with solutions that increase efficiency and productivity while reducing costs. They work closely with other engineers, technologists and technicians, and commercial and industrial designers to enhance the quality, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of manufacturing products and processes.
Examples of what manufacturing engineers may be hired to do include the following: use computer-integrated technology to automate a chemical manufacturing facility; help a company improve product quality and reduce costs by designing a circuit board manufacturing process; or identify a cost-effective facility and material handling layout for an aerospace manufacturing company.
There are five areas of work that manufacturing engineers may be involved in: research, development, application, management, and maintenance. Projects start with research. Engineers who work in this area investigate new materials, processes, or principles for practical applications of ideas and materials. Development is next, and these engineers study research results to determine how best to apply them to their practical functions. Application is the actual production of a developed idea. Engineers design and produce the materials, machines, methods, or other results of research and development. Engineering work is finalized with management and maintenance, and these engineers keep the developed idea working.
Manufacturing engineers use various software programs to gather and review information, develop and fine-tune designs, and create reports and other documents. Some examples of the programs they are well versed in include computer-aided design programs such as as Autodesk AutoCAD and Dassault Systemes CATIA; computer-aided manufacturing programs such as CNC Mastercam and Geometric CAMWorks; development environment programs like C and Microsoft Visual Basic; enterprise-resource planning programs like SAP; and computer numerical control software. They may also use project management software such as Microsoft Project, Microsoft SharePoint, and SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.