Entering the workforce, changing jobs, or are simply curious, Profiles series is the place to learn more about the career opportunities in the pump industry and the skills needed to be successful.
Hi, I’m a Design & Development Engineer. What do I do?
About me: As a Design & Development Engineer I provide engineering guidance to product development for the design and customization of new and production style pumps, or what is called a “packaged system”—this refers to a factory prefabricated pumping system that simplifies the installation process to provide water transfer, level control, recirculation, or pressure boosting assistance based on customer specification. As you can imagine, customers provide specifications based on application, hydraulic, and design features and it’s my job to make sure that the pump or packaged system is in compliance. I would say that my title is fluid. That is, my position is also sometimes referred to as mechanical engineer, which is my formal training. I know of other people who do what I do, and they’re called product engineers, still others may be called project engineers.
What I’m good at: I’m analytical, technical, and systematic on my approach to solving problems. I spend time doing computer-aided design work—known as CAD—to create 2D or 3D models and to provide analysis on the hydraulic and mechanical aspects of a design. Those of us who are recognized as pump development engineers are typically responsible for planning and executing the detailed phases of the design and development work on pumps or complex pumping systems. I’m good at creating and maintaining failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), bill-of-materials (BOM), design validations, product verification plans, and giving direction to drafters on geometric dimensioning and tolerances (GD&T) and dimensional/ tolerance stackups. I’m also good at preparing reports and submittals for evaluation during the preliminary, design, and completion stages of a project.
What I like: I like solving problems and providing engineering guidance to drafting personnel. Depending on the project, I may need to redesign a baseplate to help comply with vibration specifications or determine the correct bearing configuration or style to meet operating life requirements. In addition, this position allows me the opportunity to mentor and give direction to drafters on fit, function, and design standards.
What I’m looking for: I’m looking to grow and develop as an engineer. When I first started, I was only assigned projects that involved customizing a pump to meet a specification. But after six years, I got involved in larger more complex projects that required lateral and torsional analysis, shaft redesigns, and seismic calculations. After I complete 10 years on the job, I’ll have enough experience to design new pumps per customer request or market demand and perform computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite element analysis (FEA) on the pump and support structures.
My education: I have a mechanical engineering degree and have experience in a senior level manufacturing role with emphasis on pump mechanics. I also have product development experience with knowledge of being able to detect and resolve design and manufacturing issues. My personal experience is also with design for assembly (DFA), design for manufacturability (DFM), failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), design for experiments (DOE), design verification plan and report (DVP&R) and production validation plan and report (PVP&R) processes and with oil pumps. I am currently working with chemical pumps and my prior experience has proven valuable in my new career path.
Where I work: What’s cool about pursuing a Design & Development Engineer career is that I have options of where to work, depending on my interest. As I said, I work in the chemical pump industry, but I’ve also considered the nuclear industry, working for metering pump manufacturers, working in thermodynamics-related positions, and a career in fluid handling processes, amongst numerous other opportunities.
How much I make:
As a full-time Design & Development Engineer my starting salary is between $65,000 and $90,000. But it can grow to $120,000 and more, depending on what part of the country you live and years of experience. The average salary reported is $80,000. So, wages vary greatly.