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What’s the Future for Mechanical Design Engineers?

12/01/17 Ricky Wilcocks Manager, Electronics & Technology

Since the invention of Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, mechanical design has been transformed. The first CAD systems served as mere replacements of drawing boards. The design engineer still worked in 2D to create technical drawing consisting from 2D wireframe primitives with 3D wireframe features beginning in the ’60s. However, there were still many aspects about the process that were rather rudimentary. Mechanical Design Engineers still had to manually input constraints for parts that may seem obvious and one minor mistake could corrupt the whole model.

In today’s mechanical design industry, software is becoming smarter and smarter, but for the most part, the Mechanical Design Engineer is still where the innovation and the skill lies. CAD programs are the foundation of mechanical design and we’re largely pushed forward by innovative code and programming. That has worked wonders for the diversity of CAD tools and programs available, but it also means that CAD tools have evolved into a largely keyboard oriented skills. Given that, this is commonplace in mechanical design, keyboard based design does however have its limits as the designer has to have the technical ability and knowledge of the specific CAD software, such as CATIA, Solidworks etc. There will always be a place for this, but computers will soon be able to allow freeform mechanical design within the confines of reality. Some anticipate 3D modelling without flat screens or mouse pointers -- a fully immersive 3D environment where modelling tools include special gloves and goggles. In the future, designing will be closer to sculpting.

This means Mechanical Design Engineers may be smart enough to input design constraints, however they simply won’t have to. It opens up the age for pure creative engineering. The echoing of this future reality has already been occurring. The age of touch screen computers and haptics has brought more natural mechanical design interface. Moving forward, it will likely be virtual reality and quantum computing that brings mechanical design into its ultimate realisation for the Mechanical Design Engineer. When you think about mechanical design as more of a skilled work form given the tools coming in the future, Mechanical Design Engineers may soon have more options of where and how they work. They will no longer be restricted to cubicles, rather they will be seen as ‘technical artists’ designing in virtual spaces.

Ultimately, the goal of advancing mechanical design is to replace the restricting confines of a computer interface and let the engineer create in a pure form.

If you’re interested in Mechanical Design jobs and would like discuss job opportunities and how this is being affected by new technology please feel free to give me a call on 01582 878810 or email Ricky Wilcocks, Key Accounts Manager at