What Keeps Mechanical Engineers Up at Night?

Topics run the gamut from education and human resources issues to concerns around pricing and products.

During our 2016 Annual Salary & Career Report, one of the topics Machine Design surveyed mechanical design engineers on was what their biggest concerns were as an engineer. Those topics run the gamut from education and human resources issues to issues around pricing and products. Here’s Machine Design’s list of top concerns among mechanical engineers. Also, be sure to check out our 2017 Salary & Career Report, due out this fall.

10. Concerns about Job Security

It may not be an option, but one way to ease the stress about job security is to fully take up any and all employee development programs that your firm may offer. One noteworthy example comes to us from Festo, a firm which offers its employees a unique career development program. Machine Design Editor Jeff Kerns took a look at the program and how it works earlier this year.

9. Age Discrimination

From Sam Davis, Editor at Power Electronics:

“A 2013 report by Aberdeen Group asserts that there will be a limited number of engineers and additional challenges faced by manufacturers. As the supply of engineers goes down, the price it takes to attract this talent will increase: “This causes trouble for many companies; over half of those surveyed indicated a lack of willingness to pay enough for top talent. This means these companies will have to resort to hiring freshly graduated engineers. While it is true new graduates are cheaper to acquire, they are also unproven and may lack the experience or maturity to contribute immediately."

Check out the full article here.

8. Concerns about Financial Health of Your Company

7. Dealing with Reductions in Staff

Companies sometimes come and go and the resulting stress and instability of your firm possibly going belly-up is enough to give anyone anxiety. In the end, your firm’s financial help may be out of your control – but some more good news on the job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the ten years from 2014 to 2024, the mechanical engineering job market is anticipated to grow by 5%

6. Price/Performance Issues

When it comes to price and performance, it’s always best practice to keep up with the latest products on the market. Luckily there are industry experts looking out for you. One example of this is keeping tabs on the industry rankings of the materials and components you demand. One such example is Bosch Rexroth’s RDE 90245 Fluid Rating List. Need a high-performance biodegradable hydraulic fluid? Well, they’ve got you covered.

5. Concerns about the General Health of the Economy

Throughout the years of 2012-2014, mechanical engineers were faring better than their friends in civil engineering or aerospace engineering. According to economic modeling firm EMSI, the number of job postings during those years compared to the number of hires left plenty of jobs available for mechanical engineers. Want to make that career move or shore up your position in the labor market? Check out this article from Machine Design

4. Product Quality Issues

The threat of being conned by a firm producing or distributing counterfeit parts remains a point of stress for mechanical engineers. From counterfeit fasteners to polymers, it seems that all sourcing within the industry can at times seem suspect. Luckily, Machine Design has you covered when it comes to combatting counterfeit parts, with articles such as these:

Look Out for Counterfeit Polymers

Aviation and Aerospace Fasteners: Why it Pays to Buy Legit

The Dangers of Fake Bearings

3. Staying Current with New and Emerging Technologies

The biggest thing a mechanical engineer can do to be confident in their standing with an employer is stay current with new and emerging technologies and trends. Engineers need hands-on training and education in the in-demand industries of aerospace, high-tech, and transportation. Schools, luckily, are beginning to step up

2. Product Reliability Issues

You may be familiar with Pareto's Law, better known as the 80/20 rule, which states an almost universal truth that nothing is evenly distributed. Applied to hydraulic maintenance, the 80/20 rule means that 80% of equipment breakdowns are caused by 20% of the possible faults. Furthermore, an 80% reduction in your machine's operating cost can result from just 20% of your maintenance effort. Brendan Casey lays out 15 essential principles for effective maintenance here.

1. Looming Project Deadlines

The product development process can bring with it risks, pitfalls, and delays – none of which is something to help an engineer rest easy at night. Assessing risks properly, having a mature product development and innovation protocol, and preparing your firm for the future of technology are all important factors in managing deadlines and staying on top of the inevitable complications that will arise. Contributor Bradford Goldense explores all three in this series of articles:

The 5 Risks of Product Development

Measuring Product Development Maturity

Design Thinking for IoT in the Product Development Process



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