Design engineer job

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David Brown works for Rolls-Royce and is a design engineer, designing pipes and cables for aero engines. Having originally trained as an apprentice, he is now studying for a degree on a part-time basis at Derby University.

What does your Design engineer job involve?

My job involves designing all the pipes and harness cables that make up the external parts of an aero engine. These are mounted on brackets and clips, which we also have to design and position. I do all my design work on a 3D-modelling tool and, on completion, I have to create a paper copy of every scheme to confirm that I have defined and designed the appropriate pipes before they can be manufactured.

What equipment do you use?

The main piece of equipment I use is a PC. The software we use to route the pipes, harnesses, brackets and clipstacks is called Unigraphix, which is an extremely precise 3D-modelling programme, accurate to 0.000000001 mm.

What was your route to becoming a design engineer?

I began working at Rolls-Royce as an apprentices shortly after leaving school. My Apprenticeship was a three-year programme, and my first year was spent at the company's learning and development centre, working on milling and turning machines as well as doing some electrical work.

Why did you choose this type of work?

I am interested in engineering and particularly in design engineering. I work on an engine project right from the very start, so I see how the engine is built from initial ideas to the final product, which gives me great job satisfaction. Much of the work is office based, which is a surprise for many people considering careers in this area.

What training have you received?

During my Apprenticeship I received Cadds5 training, which lasted for three weeks and is an advanced computer-aided design (CAD) programme for the design of aircraft wings. I also completed a three-month manual drawing course.

More recently I have been trained on Unigraphix (which lasted for three to four weeks). I am now studying for a degree on a part-time basis at Derby University. All of the courses have been funded by my employer.

What do you like most about your design engineer job?

The best thing about my work is interacting with colleagues from different departments and backgrounds, which makes it more interesting. I also like the challenge of meeting deadlines. I really enjoy my job!

What are the main challenges?

I have to spend most of my working day at my desk in front of a computer.

What skills and qualities do you need to become a design engineer?

As well as the qualifications – you'll need an HNC in an engineering subject as a minimum – you need a real willingness to learn. The ability to be a team player is essential, as are good communication and problem-solving skills.

David's route to his Design engineer job

  • GCSEs.
  • BTEC National in Engineering.
  • HNC in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.
  • HND in Product Design, Marketing and Innovation.
  • Product Design, Marketing and Innovation.

David's design engineer tips

  • Send in your Apprenticeship application form before the deadline gets too close.
  • Go to any open evenings organised by employers and take your parents along.
  • Decide if you would like to work in an office or a shop floor environment.

Design engineer job related jobs












  • Aerospace engineer
  • CAD draughtsperson
  • Design engineer
  • Engineering maintenance technician
  • Mechanical engineering technician

Salary of a design engineer

  • Apprentices typically earn around £10,000 to £14,000 a year.
  • With experience and qualifications this may rise to around £20,000 a year.
  • Senior technicians may earn up to £30,000 a year, and engineers up to £45,000

Design engineer job

  • Most apprentices start aged 16 to 18 years of age, but entry is possible up to the age of 25.
  • To get onto an Apprenticeship, applicants usually need four GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), including English, maths and science or technology. Another route is to take a full-time course leading to a BTEC national certificate or diploma, or an SQA national certificate group award in engineering. Applicants then apply to an employer for a trainee technician post.
  • Mechanical engineers build machinery and other equipment for a wide variety of sectors and industries. They are also responsible for keeping the machines and components working efficiently.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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